Relief after Irish “Yes” to Nice Treaty and enlargement

A sense of relief hit the EU’s Member States and candidate countries as the positive Irish referendum removed one of the obstacles to the coming enlargement.

The final results of the Nice 2002 referendum in Ireland showed 62.89 per cent of the voters saying "yes" and only 37.11 per cent sticking to the earlier "No". The turnout was much higher than 15 months ago and reached 48.45 per cent of the electorate.

Welcoming the positive outcome of the referendum, Commission spokesperson Jonathan Faull said that enlargement was "not a done deal yet". He added: "There's still a lot of work to be done yet on our side and on the side of the candidates". European business also welcomed the "Yes" vote. "This is an historic decision, which will allow Europe to unite at last and which will spread stability, growth and welfare across our continent", saidUNICE's Secretary General Philippe de Buck.

The movement ofEuroscepticsadmitted its defeat but said that the Irish did not really have a vote on the Nice Treaty. "The mixed elite of media and politicians in Dublin succeeded in making the referendum a "moral choice" for and against the poor applicant countries. They convinced the majority that enlargement would fail without an Irish Yes. The politicians and the business world also succeeded to convince the Irish that jobs would be at stake if they voted no and that a yes would safeguard Irish neutrality", stated Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde. TheGreens/EFA Groupin the European Parliament underlined that the Nice Treaty "is a bad treaty as the Greens/EFA have always stressed. Consequently, the European Convention has to intensify its work and work out a constitution, which remedies the weaknesses and shortcomings of the Nice Treaty".

The positive outcome of the referendum opens the door to this week's difficult talks between the political leaders of the 15 EU Member States, who will meet in Brussels for their European Council. The Brussels Summit from 25-26 October will have to find a compromise on the difficult financial issues still on the table.



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