European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said it was "clear" that the result should not be seen as a vote against the EU, adding that he expects Ireland to continue to play its part within the EU. He dismissed calls from some quarters to isolate Ireland, stressing: "The voice of the Irish does not matter less than the German or the French."
He highlighted the "joint responsibility" of all 27 member states in addressing the situation and said a "joint decision" would be taken at the EU Summit next week.
In the meantime, he called on the EU to deliver on "issues like growth and jobs, social cohesion, energy security, climate change and fighting inflation". "Working together in the EU remains the best way to deal with the challenges affecting Europeans today," he said.
Irish Commissioner Charlie McCreevy stressed that the vote should not be interpreted as a sign of Irish ingratitude but as a vote against "a myriad of other issues," including rising food and oil prices, an economic downturn and the threat of rising unemployment. "There will be those who won't understand and think we have forgotten all the benefits Ireland has obtained from its membership of the EU. But that would be a wrong interpretation. I have no doubt that the vast majority of Irish people want to be fully engaged participants in the European Union," he said.
He downplayed the Irish 'no', saying the EU would "not grind to a halt" as a result and pointing out that his country was "not alone in being unable to secure a popular endorsement of a European Treaty". "As politicians this is something we need to learn from," he concluded.
Former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering stated that the results of the Irish referendum confront the EU "with one of the most difficult challenges in its history". He called on the EU summit on 19-20 June to "take the appropriate steps to make the reform Treaty a reality". "The ratification process must continue without reservation. We call upon the Irish Government to submit proposals as to how we can jointly progress beyond this difficult phase in European politics," the Parliament President said in a written statement, adding that the goal is to see the Treaty enter into force before the June 2009 European elections.
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin blamed a lack of information for the result, saying there was a sense that the treaty "just didn't register" among citizens and the 'no' vote demonstrated a persistent "disconnection between Europe and its people".
Czech President Vaclav Klaus called the Irish referendum result a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue". His view was echoed in the Czech Senate. The Lisbon Treaty ratification process has already been slowed down in the Czech Republic, where at present, the Czech Constitutional Court is analysing the treaty at the request of the Senate, the upper house of the Czech Parliament, in a move initiated by the governing Civic Democratic Party (ODS). The eurosceptic, right-wing, neo-liberal ODS of Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek seems concerned that the Czech EU Presidency, starting on 1 January 2009, will be overshadowed by the future permanent EU Council President.
Former Irish Prime Minister Garret Fitzgerald expressed his surprise that "the 'no' vote is far higher than we had expected or hoped for". He said he feared the consequences for Ireland in the EU were "not good".
"We'll see how other countries react and then respond. Nobody can say exactly what will happen at this stage," he said, adding that "it'll be quite a while before this particular fog clears".
Speaking just two weeks before his country takes over the EU Presidency, France's EU Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet stressed the importance of proceeding with the ratification process in other countries. "Then we shall see with the Irish what type of legal arrangement could be found," he said, pointing to the fact that he believes the Treaty is not dead.
The UK government has already signalled that it will continue the parliamentary ratification process, as have Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden.
Meanwhile, German Socialist MEP and chair of the Parliament's constitutional affairs committee Jo Leinen lashed out not only at the Irish, but the entire European establishment for being incapable of communicating with citizens.
"Communicating Europe is a disaster," Leinen said at a press conference in the European Parliament held before the results of the referendum were known. He lashed out at the Council, which failed, in his words, to develop a common communication strategy of the European institutions and has made special efforts to keep the Parliament isolated. "The Council says communication is the duty of the member countries. But when the countries do nothing, or too little, nobody can do something about it," he went on to say. Then he attacked the Irish Government for the way it had conducted the referendum campaign, saying it was "late, defensive and complicated".
Speaking to EURACTIV, ALDE spokesperson for constitutional affairs in the Parliament, UK MEP Andrew Duff, said the results were no surprise to him as "the whole pro-EU campaign in Ireland was a real mess" and "completely unprofessional" with political in-fighting.
While he expected the UK House of Lords to complete ratification next week, he said this would only bring a temporary "moral lift" before the bloc falls into "deep paralysis with no exit strategy". Indeed, he added, "the current situation is worse than in 2005 when the French and the Dutch rejected the Constitution, because the Lisbon Treaty was already the EU's Plan B".
Monica Frassoni and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-presidents of the European Greens/EFA group in the Parliament, blamed the referendum tool itself for the crisis, saying: "The Irish 'no' has once again demonstrated that national referenda are not an adequate instrument to decide European questions."
"It is not truly democratic that less than a million people can decide the fate of almost half a billion Europeans," they commented. Looking to the future, they said the EU could not go on under the Nice Treaty rules, saying EU member states would have to choose if they wanted "a more integrated Europe or if they opt to be members of little more than a free trade area".
They suggested "a short Constitution focusing on selected points that are understandable and relevant to citizens". This, they said, could for example include the Charter of Fundamental Rights, more democratic decision-making procedures and more instruments for positive policies, in a text that would be put to European citizens in a Europe-wide referendum on the same day as the European elections.
But the leader of the EU-critical UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage on the other hand demanded that the implementation of the Treaty be stopped immediately.
"The third reading of the treaty in the House of Lords next week must be halted because the project now has no legitimacy," he insisted, pointing out that "the only people to have a say on the Treaty have kicked it into the long grass".
He accused those that attempted to "simply try to ignore" the Irish 'no' as they did the French and Dutch results, of being little more than "EU extremists".
Francis Wurtz, president of the Parliament's GUE/NGL Group, argued along the same lines, saying he welcomed "with enthusiasm the result of the Irish referendum because, without this kind of jolt, there is no chance that the debate can open up about what must change in the orientations and structures of the current European Union".