Cablegate: Ireland Unlikely to Resolve Lisbon Treaty

DE RUEHDL #0569/01 2890854
P 150854Z OCT 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000569


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2018


Classified By: Charge Robert J. Faucher; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (C) Ireland will tell the European Council on October 15
that it is not ready to resolve its rejection of the Lisbon
Treaty. Irish political leaders believe that the European
Council will give it until the December meeting to reflect
further on the way forward in resolving the crisis. Minister
for European Affairs Dick Roche has told us that a second
Irish referendum will likely be necessary, but that the Irish
don't want to revisit the Treaty until after the June 2009
local and European Parliament elections. Roche is worried
that Ireland could end up in some sort of periphery status in
a "two-tier" EU, if France and Germany decide to drive EU
reform forward in spite of Ireland. End summary.

Lisbon Treaty

2. (C) EMBOFFs and EUR/WE Office Director Pamela Spratlen
reviewed the Lisbon Treaty referendum defeat with Dick Roche
(Member of Parliament and Minister for European Affairs),
Senator Eugene Regan (Fine Gael), Professor Brigid Laffan
(Principal, University College Dublin, College of Human
Sciences), Jill Donoghue (Research Director, International
Institute for European Affairs) and Rory Montgomery
(Political Director, Department of Foreign Affairs) on
October 7-8. Roche, who will accompany Irish Prime Minister
Brian Cowen to the European Council, October 15-16, to report
on Ireland's proposals for a way forward following the defeat
of the Lisbon Treaty referendum on June 12, 2008 (Ref B),
said that a second referendum would probably be necessary,
but declared that such a referendum would not occur until the
autumn of 2009 at the earliest, echoing recent analyses in
the press of a number of political commentators. Reasons for
the delay, in Roche's view, were a need to respect the
voters' 'No' decision on June 12; a need to allow time for
the government and EU to craft a coherent 'Yes' message; and
wish to keep the issue of the Lisbon Treaty separate from
local and European Parliament elections in June 2009.

3. (C) Roche indicated that the Prime Minister's message at
the October European Council meeting would include a read-out
on the results of the government-funded research study into
the reasons for the Treaty's defeat, which was completed in
September (Ref A). Roche said that Cowen would inform the
European Council of the formation of a new select
parliamentary sub-committee of the Foreign Affairs Committee
that would study the government's response to the rejection
of the Treaty referendum and Ireland's future in the EU.
Roche added that no decision on how to proceed would be made
until the sub-committee finished its deliberations, scheduled
for early December). Cowen, said Roche, would also tell the
European Council that Ireland needed further time for
reflection and would remind the European Council that the
views of the Irish voter must be respected. The end result,
predicted Roche, would be a decision of the European Council
to defer further discussion of the future of the Lisbon
Treaty until its December 2008 meeting.

4. (C) Montgomery noted that French (and EU) President
Nicolas Sarkozy had already been informed by the Prime
Minister that during the October European Council meeting the
Irish would make a presentation that would not contain any
proposals for the way forward. He indicated that Sarkozy
accepted this. However, Montgomery predicted, Sarkozy would
likely push hard for Irish proposals during the December
European Council meeting; the last meeting of the French
Presidency. Although the Irish Attorney General is reviewing
possible ways to bring parts of the Lisbon Treaty into force
without a referendum, Montgomery characterized such efforts
as "pie in the sky" and said that the only legal and
political solution to the dilemma appeared to be a second
referendum -- which would likely include "opt-outs" from
aspects of the Lisbon Treaty that were problematic for Irish
voters. Montgomery agreed that no referendum would be held
until late in 2009.

5. (C) In the meantime, Irish experts are increasingly
worried that a backlash may be building within the EU against
Ireland as a result of its rejection of the Treaty.
Donoghue, whose husband is the Irish Ambassador to Berlin,
reported that anti-Irish sentiment seems to be growing in
Germany. She noted that some people see the Irish as being
unappreciative of the great benefit realized from membership

DUBLIN 00000569 002 OF 002

in the EU over the years. (Note: When Ireland joined the EU
in 1973, it was the poorest member per capita. It is now the
second richest. Since 1975, Ireland is estimated to have
received 85 billion euro more from the EU than it has
contributed. End note.) Montgomery reported some
"bitterness and resentment" against Ireland in Europe, though
he went on to say that Irish have not felt marginalized
within the EU as a result of the vote ) at least so far.

6. (C) Roche, Donoghue, and Laffan went into some detail in
discussing the outcome of the research study, highlighting
that 40 percent of those who voted 'No' did so because they
didn't understand the Treaty and that workers, women and
youth voted predominantly 'No.' Ironically, they noted, 70
percent of the Irish say they have favorable views of the EU
and support Ireland's membership. Donoghue and Laffan
pointed out that many voters rejected the treaty because they
perceived it ) often incorrectly ) as having a negative
impact on a single issue of concern, e.g., higher taxes,
legalization of abortion, conscription of sons and brothers
into a European army (which doesn't even exist), loss of
neutrality, etc.


7. (C) No one in Ireland has yet suggested a strategy for
dealing with the rest of the EU at the European Council
meeting in December. Most likely, the Irish will ask for
further time for reflection. What the mood of the rest of
the EU will be at that time is hard to predict (especially
given the current world financial crisis), but there is
clearly a divergence of purpose ) the Irish don't want to
deal with the Lisbon Treaty for at least a year, or at least
until after the June 2009 local and European Parliament
elections. However, as Montgomery pointed out, much of the
rest of the EU (and especially the French and Germans) want
the Treaty finalized before the June 2009 European Parliament
election so that election, and the subsequent selection of
the new College of Commissioners, can be conducted on the
basis of the reforms in the Lisbon Treaty rather than on the
basis of the existing Nice Treaty. However, Dick Roche
admitted that it was untenable for a single small member
state with less than one percent of the population of the EU
to hold up European progress for long. While the Irish
government would abhor a "two-tier" EU that leaves Ireland in
some sort of periphery status, Roche acknowledged that this
could happen.

8. (U) This message has been cleared by EUR/WE Director
Pamela Spratlen.

© Scoop Media

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