The deal clinched at the EU Summit on a ‘Reform Treaty’ to replace the stalled Constitution could still face a backlash during the ratification procedure as a number of member states, including Ireland and Denmark, prepare for referenda. In Britain, incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under pressure from the opposition to hold a national vote.
The biggest question following the agreement among EU leaders on the outline of a new EU Reform Treaty appears to be: which countries will hold national polls?
While France’s President Sarkozy has announced that his country – one of the two responsible for derailing the Constitution – will not be holding another referendum, other countries will do so.
Ireland’s Constitutional provisions make it difficult not to call a national vote on a proposed treaty, and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced on 25 June 2007 that he would be calling a referendum.
In 2001, Irish voters threw the EU into turmoil when they rejected the Nice Treaty – also centred on institutional changes with a view to adapting the Union to enlargement. However, the vote was reversed in a second poll the following year.
Denmark is also a possibility, with the far-right Danish People’s Party, (which supports the governing coalition), calling for a referendum. Furthermore, a poll published on 23 June showed around 70% if Danish voters to be in favour.
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has yet to announce a decision.
There is also a chance that the Netherlands will hold another vote, although the decision is being left in the hands of Dutch judges.
The other 24 member states are expected to opt for the simpler option of parliamentary ratification – although some observers are doubtful that Tony Blair’s successor as British prime minister, Gordon Brown, will be able to resist opposition calls to put the new text to the British people.