France won't try to force Lisbon Treaty through

25th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

French European Affairs Minister says France won’t seek to force the bloc’s reforming Lisbon Treaty through.

25 June 2008

BRUSSELS - France, which takes over the EU's rotating presidency next month, won't seek to force the bloc's reforming Lisbon Treaty into being following the Irish "no" vote, a government minister said Tuesday.

"Forcing it through won't be on the agenda," during France's six-month EU presidency, French European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet said in Brussels.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Ireland on 11 July to "get a sense of the discontent and questions of the Irish," he confirmed.

"We must leave the Irish to tell us what they need.... Their leaders need to tell us how, when and on what basis they could consult their population."

Ireland, the only EU state constitutionally obliged to hold a referendum on the charter, rejected the treaty by 53.4 percent, throwing the bloc into crisis, as it must be ratified by all 27 member states to come into force.

The issue dominated a summit in Brussels last week and EU leaders asked Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to report back in October on what he thinks the best options are for the reform treaty, aimed at streamlining the EU's institutions as the bloc expands.

"We know that it's going to take time," said Jouyet.

"Do they want guarantees on their neutrality, reassurance on their religious values, notably on abortion, guarantees on aid? Right now I don't know," he admitted.

"Then we must analyse the consequences of the Irish demands, knowing that the great majority of EU member states are not in favour of reopening the treaty" for alterations, Jouyet told a round-table debate in Brussels.

He also opposed sidelining the member states which fail to ratify the treaty, signed by EU leaders in the Portuguese capital last December.

Seven of those 27 member states, have still to approve the treaty via the parliamentary route, including the Czech Republic, whose eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus poses the greatest additional threat to ratification.

"I don't think that we can pursue the European adventure by isolating certain countries," said Jouyet.

"There has been a derailment, even if Europe has not come to a halt," he said. "We cannot remain immobile."

"An important part of the French (EU) presidency's work will be to put the 27 back on the rails," he concluded.

[AFP / Expatica]

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