From The Sunday Times
October 18, 2008
EU plans to force second Lisbon vote
French politicians hatch plan to isolate Ireland and force second treaty poll
PLANS to isolate Ireland and force the country to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty by next March were discussed at a European Union meeting 10 days ago.
Minutes of the event, and of a separate dinner with the French minister for European affairs, record how key French politicians and other MEPs said that Ireland should be put in an "untenable position" by pressing Poland and the Czech Republic to ratify the treaty by December.
The minutes were made available by a high-level source who attended both events. They tally with publicly available EU minutes but include direct quotes rather than the diplomatic language of the official record.
The meeting and dinner heard how Ireland's "intellectual mediocrity and lack of political courage" led to the rejection of the Lisbon treaty and included discussions of how to "cuddle and pamper" the Irish voter ahead of a new vote while at the same time "making pressures on them".
The meeting between the European parliament's committee for constitutional affairs and the European affairs committees of both the French senate and national assembly was held in Paris on October 9. It was followed by a dinner with Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French equivalent of Dick Roche, Ireland's EU affairs minister.
Jacques Delors, former European commission president,warned that Europe should be wary of conceding to Ireland on Lisbon and criticised the Irish government for "going solo" on the bank crisis.
The official minutes record that members of the delegation discussed "the necessity of ratifying the Lisbon treaty as soon as possible" and an anxiety that a second referendum should be held before the European elections next June. The delegates were concerned that the elections could become a proxy referendum on the treaty.
Pierre Lequiller, a French politician, said it was necessary to get the Czech Republic and Poland to ratify the treaty quickly as this would "modify the situation of Ireland". Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP, said the Irish people should be made aware of the "consequences" of a second refusal.
Delors, according to the minutes, expressed concerns "about the price that Europe was willing to pay in order to obtain a ratification of the treaty by the Irish". He said: "The Irish have since gone solo in the financial crisis. They must understand, however, that to be a member of the EU also includes certain demands."
The minutes from the Sunday Times source show French politicians want Ireland to believe the EU will respect the country's sovereignty and demands, while telling the Irish people how the other 495m Europeans are watching them and "will be really angry" if the answer is no again.
The meeting discussed the option of ensuring the next referendum in Ireland should involve a question to which the Irish could not say no.
This, according to German and French politicians, could be achieved by giving Ireland guarantees of sovereignty over issues such as neutrality and abortion.
It would then ask the Irish electorate to vote on whether or not the country's membership of the EU was compatible with the constitution.