Ireland eyes full-time commissioner in Treaty rescue plan

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The Irish government is considering asking the Union to guarantee every member state a permanent commissioner as one option for agreeing to put the Lisbon Treaty to a second referendum late next year, Irish dailies report today (30 July).

Quoting unnamed government sources, the Irish Independent writes that the guarantee of holding on to an Irish Commissioner will be the carrot for a “yes” vote, in a fresh referendum that would be held in September or October 2009. 

Currently, the Treaty foresees a reduction in the number of commissioners, from 27 to 15 by 2014, with a rotation among member states. 

In addition, Dublin’s Treaty rescue plan, following the rejection of the treaty by Irish voters last month, would involve: 

  • a delay in the appointment of the new Commission (due to be inaugurated in November 2009) until after the second Irish referendum; 
  • written assurances on the sensitive issues of on taxation, neutrality and abortion, which is outlawed in Ireland; 
  • a further reduction, next year, in the number of some countries’ MEPs, although not for Ireland. Currently, the Treaty foresees that the number of MEPs will be cut from 785 to 736, affecting several countries, including Ireland, who would have 12 MEPs instead of 13. 

The Belfast telegraph is somewhat more cautious in its reporting of the plans, writing that these are only options currently under consideration by the Fianna Fail-led government coalition.

As they are formulated by the press, the Irish proposals on guaranteeing a permanent commissioner and further reducing the number of MEPs stand little chance of being accepted by other EU governments, because they would require amendments to the Lisbon Treaty. Yet most EU countries have already ratified the Lisbon Treaty and are opposed to reopening the long-fought text. 

Officially the government has denied having taken any decisions yet. The Pime Minister Brian Cowen is expected to present his EU counterparts with plans for the way forward before the end of the year. 

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