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Cablegate: Irish Prime Minister to Seek Continued Eu Patience

VZCZCXRO9717
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHDL #0660 3401553
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051553Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9623
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST PRIORITY 0845

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBLIN 000660

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL EI
SUBJECT: IRISH PRIME MINISTER TO SEEK CONTINUED EU PATIENCE
IN RESOLVING LISBON TREATY CRISIS

REF: A. DUBLIN 653
B. DUBLIN 628
C. DUBLIN 577 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Charge Robert J. Faucher; Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen will meet
with other European Council leaders for the third time on
December 11-12 to discuss the way forward following Ireland's
defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008. Cowen will seek
continued patience and constructive ideas from the European
Council; the European Council will be looking for a realistic
roadmap. End summary.

2. (C) In recent weeks, the political focus in Ireland has
shifted from the ongoing global financial crisis and
accompanying domestic economic downturn (Ref A) back to the
other most vexing political issue in Ireland: how to deal
with the European Union following Ireland's defeat of the
Lisbon Treaty in June 2008 (Refs B and C). Over the past ten
days, Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen has been
touring European capitals (Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin,
London, Paris, Luxembourg) in an effort to pave the way for
his meeting with the European Council on December 11 and 12.

3. (C) During a meeting on December 3, Martin Fraser,
Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister, told the
Charge that Cowen intends to seek new, constructive ideas
from the European Council during its December 11-12 meeting,
as well as more time, to craft a resolution of the crisis.
(Note: Twice already, in June and October 2008, the European
Council has granted Ireland "time for reflection" to study
the outcome of the referendum and determine a way forward.
Of the 27 EU member states, only Ireland and the Czech
Republic have not fully ratified the Treaty. End note.)
Martin indicated that Cowen would offer to hold a second
referendum on the Treaty if each EU member state is allowed
to retain a full-time EU commissioner (one of the more
resonant criticisms of the Treaty by the 'No' campaign during
the June referendum). Cowen will also be seeking assurances
that Ireland's neutrality, abortion laws, and tax policies
will not be infringed. Martin added that Cowen would not
agree to hold a second referendum until after the European
Parliament election, which coincides with local elections in
Ireland (Ref C).

4. (C) Martin reported that, in spite of some favorable
press surrounding Cowen's recent travels and public
statements by other EU leaders that they want to help Ireland
find a solution, his European counterparts are beginning to
take a harder line with him privately, insisting that he
resolve the problem before the European Parliament elections
in June 2009. (Note: Most EU member states want the
European Parliament election to be conducted under the new
Lisbon Treaty rules rather than the old Nice Treaty rules
(Ref C). End note.) In Berlin on December 3, Cowen said, "I
am hopeful that we can identify elements of an acceptable way
forward for our European partners, but one that takes into
account the grounds why the Irish people rejected the
Treaty."

5. (SBU) Meanwhile, Irish EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy,
responsible for EU internal market affairs, spoke out
publicly on December 4, arguing that the rejection of the
Treaty by Irish voters should be respected. (Note: With an
referendum turn-out of 53.1 percent of voters, 53.4 percent
rejected the Treaty, while 46.6 percent approved it. End
note.) McCreevy's influential voice makes it more difficult
for Cowen to justify calling for a second referendum.

6. (C) Comment: Cowen is struggling with a thorny problem
-- how to move Ireland forward in harmony with the changes
occurring within the EU (as reflected in the Treaty), while
satisfying the expectations of Irish voters who soundly
defeated the Treaty in June. Meanwhile, European Council
leaders appear increasingly unwilling to delay reforms
throughout the entire EU solely to accommodate tiny Ireland,
which has less than one percent of the EU's population.
Cowen will seek continued patience and constructive ideas
from the European Council during its December 11-12 meeting;
the European Council will be looking for a realistic roadmap.
FAUCHER

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