Irish voters to decide on Nice Treaty on 19 October

The Irish Government has decided to hold a second referendum on the EU Nice Treaty on 19 October, a week before the decisive Brussels summit on enlargement. The Nice Treaty represents a legal basis for the EU’s enlargement to up to 12 new Member States.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Bertie Ahern set 19 October as the date for a second referendum on the Nice Treaty, so that EU leaders can take decisions concerning the first wave of enlargement at the Brussels summit on 24-25 October.

Mr Ahern stated he would urge the Irish voters to say “Yes” for “jobs, growth and the future of this country”. He underlined that the context of this referendum “is entirely different” because the EU made a declaration at the Seville summit in June that Irish neutrality would not be affected by the Nice Treaty. Ireland also amended its constitution to include an opt-out from any EU defence commitments.

 

Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament,warned that "a second rejection of the Nice Treaty would plunge the European Union's main strategic agenda, that of enlargement, into a period of uncertainty and potential crisis."

Officially, noalternative planexists to go ahead with EU enlargement if the Irish voters reject the Nice Treaty again. Nevertheless, EU officials admit there are ways of circumventing a potential rejection, for example by including the change of voting rights and the EU's institutional set-up in the Accession Treaty with the candidate countries. However, such a move could be challenged in the European Court of Justice.

 

Irish voters rejected the Nice Treaty in a June 2001 referendum with 54 per cent of the vote. The Treaty includes institutional and decision-making reforms that represent a legal basis for EU enlargement.

 

The second Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty will be held on 19 October.

 

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