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Lisbon Treaty

October 5, 2009

Ireland's endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty has been largely saluted across the 27 nations of the EU. Here's what some of Europe's papers have to say about the resounding 'yes' vote and the future of the reform treaty.

European newspapers welcome the Irish 'yes'Image: BilderBox

Germany's Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung welcomed Ireland's acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty, but said it was primarily motivated by money. "Nothing fanned the flames of love for Europe among the Irish as much as the thought of having to fight their way out of the crisis without cash injections from Brussels." The paper was critical of the fact that the Irish were the only people in the 27 nation block allowed to vote on a treaty "with such reach". It said all citizens of Europe should have been allowed to have their say at the ballot box.

In the Netherlands, de Volkskrant said the second Irish poll was no longer really about the treaty, but about whether or not the people of Ireland wanted to remain in the EU at all. "The mood has changed radically since the last referendum. The financial crisis has taught the 'Celtic Tiger' that it is safer to be in the EU harbor during a storm."

In Paris, the conservative Le Figaro said it was now up to the Czech president to do the right thing by the citizens of Europe. "The resounding 'yes' from Ireland ought to have cleared the path for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The resistance - albeit fierce - from one man cannot oppose the will of 500 million Europeans." It added that Vaclav Klaus might like, against the wishes of his government and his people, to hold the treaty hostage until the Conservatives take up the reins of power in Britain. But such a manoeuvre, it concluded, would be "dishonourable."

Irish people hold up 'yes' banners in the streets
'Yes' was the word on the lips of 67 percent of voters in IrelandImage: AP

The British daily, The Times says the Ireland vote represents another surrender to Brussels and laments the fact that the British population never got their chance at a referendum. "If the British saw the Lisbon Treaty as a genuine agreement among independent nations, which had been ratified either by a referendum or a general election, they might accept it. But it is not, and they do not. They are now asking themselves whether the benefits of belonging to a complex bureaucratic regional block of ageing powers and declining economies outweigh the sacrifice of British sovereignty. Whether it is in Britain's interest to remain in the European Union has become a matter of legitimate debate."

Poland's left-liberal Gazeta Wyborcza said the green light from the emerald isle meant the EU was now going to have to face some major challenges. "The first test of the effectiveness of the EU under the new treaty will be expansion. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said expansion would not be possible without the Lisbon Treaty. Now that its implementation is as good as guaranteed, they will have to take their foot off the brakes." It added that Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo are waiting to join. "In 2010, Ukraine will apply for membership and sooner or later, Belarus and Moldavia will follow suit."

Austria's Der Standard praised the Irish for their 'yes' vote, saying they had left little room for Czech President to throw a last minute spanner in the works. But the question now, the paper wrote, is whether or not the treaty will prove a success. "Can labored joint policies push through planned reforms on migration, domestic security, external relations and increased democracy in EU institutions?" In order to do so, the paper wrote, member states will have to stop demonstrating signs of "national small-mindedness and egotism."

Editor: Andreas Illmer