Irish PM expects new EU treaty referendum in early October
The announcement came after the end of a two-day summit on the treaty in Brussels.Brussels -- Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Friday that he expects a new referendum to be held in Ireland on a vast European Union reform treaty in early October.
"I am confident now we have a solid basis to go to the Irish people and ask them again to ratify the treaty so that Europe can move on," he said, after EU leaders gave guarantees the Lisbon Treaty would not limit Dublin's sovereignty.
"I would expect that we would be ready to have a referendum in early October," he told reporters at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels.
The guarantees affirm Ireland's military neutrality and taxation system, as well as its stance on issues like abortion.
The Irish government had sought to make the document a protocol and an integral part of the treaty, which countries like Britain had feared would oblige them to re-open the tortuous ratification process.
Cowen said the "protocol has treaty status, there is no debate about that."
Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum almost exactly a year ago. The agreement means they could return to the ballot boxes in October, and opinion polls suggest they will vote for the package a second time.
Almost all the 27 EU members have endorsed the treaty, meant to streamline the way the expanding bloc operates, through parliament. Only the Czech Republic and Poland must complete the technical ratification.
A legal challenge is pending in Germany.