UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, rejecting calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, said it was "fundamentally different" from the constitutional treaty: "Because we have a very different document with our protocol, with our opt-ins, with our emergency breaks, with all these protections of the British national interest, there is no fundamental change and that is why I believe the proper way of discussing this […] is parliamentary debate."
Disagreeing with the prime minister completely, a report published on 20 January 2008 by the Labour-dominated Foreign Affairs Committee in the UK House of Commons concluded: "There is no material difference between the provisions on foreign affairs in the Constitutional Treaty, which the government made subject to approval in a referendum, and those in the Lisbon Treaty, on which a referendum is being denied."
UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas called for a referendum on the treaty in the UK, commenting: "Gordon Brown wants to deny us a say on whether to adopt it or not and that's fundamentally undemocratic, whatever you think about the rights or wrongs of the treaty." She added: "It's clear that the proposed EU reform treaty is substantially the same document as the EU constitution, on which Tony Blair promised the British people a referendum."
The UK-based 'I Want a Referendum' campaign has commissioned the Electoral Reform Services to run a series of 'referenda' on the Lisbon Treaty across Britain, and is organising a mass lobby of Parliament calling for a nationwide referendum on 27 February.
Neil O'Brien, the director of UK-based, euro-sceptic think-tank
, said "governments must keep their promise to hold referendums". Declaring that the Treaty of Lisbon "will fool no-one," he said that after considering the details, it "is just the old EU Constitution in everything but name".
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to put France "back in Europe" after the 2005 referendum debacle by being among the first countries to ratify the treaty.
But the French Socialist Party boycotted a vote in Parliament that allowed ratification to go ahead "to show its displeasure at the procedure chosen" to approve the treaty, according to Bruno Le Roux, the party's national election secretary (EURACTIV 05/02/08).
France's European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet stressed the importance of proceeding with the ratification process in other countries after the irish 'no' vote. "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.
Ireland's EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy stressed that the Irish 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.
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.
After the Czech Republic's highest court ruled that the Lisbon Treaty was consistent with the country's constitution (EURACTIV 26/11/08), Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said he welcomed "the decision of the Czech Constitutional Court as it will enable us to proceed with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Parliament. I perceive as positive that the procedure has taken place and the Constitutional Court in its capacity answered all questions of the Senate and of the president concerning the compatibility of the Treaty with the Czech Constitutional order. The ruling of the court should dispel possible doubts in this regard which have so far characterised the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic".
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg agreed with the deputy prime minister's view of the ruling, saying: "It is good news not only for us, but also for Europe. The Lisbon Treaty is not against the Czech Constitution and for this certitude we have to be glad".