The Church Jesus Built, German version

What Happens After Death?, German version

Is The Bible True?, German version

Heaven or Hell?, German version

Bible Prophecy, German version

After Irish "No" vote: A Nice future for the EU?

June 13, 2008: With a surprising 53.4 percent of the vote, Irish opponents of the EU's Lisbon treaty have put a damper on hopes to give the European Union a new internal structure by January 1, 2009. The Lisbon treaty mandates a majority vote system for most decisions of the EU Council of Ministers and would create the new offices of EU President and foreign minister. Ireland is the only member of the 27 nation EU where a national referendum will decide whether the treaty is ratified. In all other countries approval is expected since the national parliament will decide the issue. Of the following options, the Nice one is really no option at all.

Continue operating under the Treaty of Nice: If the Lisbon treaty is not ratified, the EU would continue to operate under the Treaty of Nice, which took effect in 2003. However, the current setup requires unanimous agreement on most major decisions made within the EU. Some legal experts now question whether the EU can even accept any new members under the present arrangement. If they are correct, Croatia's entry into the Union would be on hold for as long as the current situation prevails. The Treaty of Nice is no option for Europe's future.

Agree on a new treaty: Another option considered unlikely is the draft of a replacement for the Lisbon treaty. The Lisbon treaty itself was the result of compromise reached at the end of long and at times tense negotiations conducted by German chancellor Angela Merkel last year. At this point it seems very questionable whether EU members could agree on yet another draft text.

Ireland leaves the EU: Some analysts are already calling on Ireland to leave the EU, especially if the other 26 EU members ratify the Lisbon treaty. However, Ireland has financial and economic advantages from its membership in the EU. It is unlikely that the Irish would leave the EU voluntarily, and just as unlikely that the EU would force Ireland out. The latter move would require legal maneuvering that might be difficult to achieve, since under the current Nice treaty any new legal arrangement to oust Ireland would required Ireland's own vote of approval.

A special arrangement with Ireland: If the other 26 EU members ratify the Lisbon treaty – which is widely expected – the EU could offer Ireland special "opt-out" provisions for those portions of the new treaty that would otherwise require the Irish constitution to be amended. Since the Irish referendum on ratification is only necessary because of the need to amend the country's constitution, "opt-out" provisions would mean that the Irish parliament could ratify the treaty. A majority of the Irish parliament supports the Lisbon treaty.

A follow-up referendum in Ireland: In 2001 Irish voters initially rejected the treaty of Nice. A follow-up referendum was held later, and pro-EU Irish voters turned out in sufficient numbers to overturn the first referendum. EU supporters are generally considered less likely to go to the polls for a referendum, so mobilizing them will be a challenge – though not insurmountable – for a later vote. A follow-up referendum also means that all other 26 EU members ratify the Lisbon treaty – which is widely expected.

A "two-speed" Europe: If the proposed Lisbon treaty fails, then the most likely option for the future will be a "two-speed" Europe – the long discussed "core Europe" made up of those EU members desiring closer political integration. Existing EU provisions allow member countries to forge ahead with agreements without requiring all EU members to participate. Examples are the euro zone and the Schengen treaty.

The "opt-out" and new referendum options are real possibilities for getting the Lisbon treaty ratified after all. However, even if the treaty should fail, the "core Europe" concept is a viable option for the continent's future development, which will eventually see ten nations or groups of nations forming a short-lived political union.


God's Sabbath Rest, German version

Making Life Work, German version

What is Your Destiny?, German version

Gospel of the Kingdom, German version

The Ten Commandments, German version