Ireland's Cowen to meet Barroso ahead of Brussels crisis summit
Cowen meets Barroso for talks after Ireland’s rejection of EU’s Lisbon Treaty…
19 June 2008
BELGIUM - Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was to hold crisis talks with European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday, a week after Irish voters rejected the European Union's Lisbon Treaty.
It is to be the first meeting between the head of the EU's executive and the Irish Taoiseach since the Irish referendum of June 12 threw EU plans to ratify the treaty into chaos.
It comes a day after Britain's parliament approved the treaty and hours before EU heads of state and government hold a summit in Brussels which is expected to be dominated by the crisis.
"There is no rapid solution; however, the forthcoming European Council (summit) is undoubtedly the first opportunity for a discussion on this issue," a statement from the Slovenian presidency of the EU said.
EU leaders have already indicated that it will be up to Cowen's government to propose a way out of the institutional deadlock, although experts do not expect any concrete proposals until the autumn.
Officials also insist that the handful of EU states who have not yet approved the treaty should do so, praising Britain's move on Wednesday to back the document in parliament.
"Another endorsement of the treaty proves that it is still a living document. Every ratification counts as an important step towards the ultimate goal, i.e. the enforcement of the Lisbon treaty," the presidency said.
Barroso also welcomed the decision from the notoriously Euro- sceptic Britain, congratulating the government and parliament and thanking them for "the constant support for the new Treaty during the negotiation and ratification process."
The treaty is intended to speed up the EU's decision-making process and strengthen its international profile.
It has now been approved by parliaments in Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Greece and Britain.
The parliaments of Sweden, the Czech Republic, Spain, Cyprus, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy are still to ratify the treaty. Ireland was the only EU member state to hold a referendum.