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(01/31/08) -

EU Treaty Not First Thing in Mind of Irish

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – An overwhelming number of people in Ireland have not made up their minds about a new European Union (EU) treaty, according to a poll by TNS mrbi published in The Irish Times. 64 per cent of respondents hold no opinion or are undecided about this year’s plebiscite, up two points since October.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – An overwhelming number of people in Ireland have not made up their minds about a new European Union (EU) treaty, according to a poll by TNS mrbi published in The Irish Times. 64 per cent of respondents hold no opinion or are undecided about this year’s plebiscite, up two points since October.

In addition, 26 per cent of respondents would vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, while 10 per cent would vote against it.

The heads of state of the European Union (EU) officially signed the European Constitution on Oct. 29, 2004. The project for a continental body of law was practically abandoned in 2005, after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the proposed document in two plebiscites.

In June 2007, the leaders of the 27 EU member nations reached an agreement in Germany to revise the proposed Constitution, create a new European Union Constitution Treaty (EUCT) before the end of this year, and achieve its ratification by mid-2009.

In October, leaders of the 27 EU member nations reached an agreement on the Lisbon Treaty or Charter of Fundamental Rights, which will become legally binding in all EU member states except Britain, which negotiated an exemption. The provisions call for the creation of new posts, such as a foreign policy chief, and a High Representative who will answer to EU governments and serve as vice-president of the European Commission.

The EU leaders would also choose a president of the European Council for a two and a half year renewable term. This will effectively eliminate the current six-month rotating presidency among member nations. The Lisbon Treaty also provides for the creation of a mutual defence clause, in case one of the member states is attacked.

If all countries ratify the treaty—whether through a referendum or a parliamentary vote—the body of law will become effective in January 2009. Ireland, due to its internal regulations, is the only country that must hold a nationwide vote on the Lisbon Treaty, while other governments can decide whether they want to do the same.

The Fianna Fáil party of Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern is in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. On Jan. 19, the Green Party—a junior member in the current governing coalition—announced it would urge party members to endorse the document as well. However, Green Party European affairs spokeswoman Deirdre de Burca said many party members might not follow the leadership’s suggestion to vote "Yes", saying, "I sense a lot of positivity towards the treaty, but I also hear people who are very concerned about it."

Polling Data

The leaders of the European Union (EU) member states have agreed to a Reform Treaty that is to replace the projected European Constitution. A referendum on the Reform Treaty is expected to be held in Ireland this year. Will you vote Yes to ratify the Reform Treaty, or No against the Reform Treaty?

 

Jan. 2008

Oct. 2007

Yes

26%

25%

No

10%

13%

Don’t know / No opinion

64%

62%

Source: TNS mrbi / The Irish Times
Methodology: Interviews with 1,000 Irish voters, conducted on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, 2008. No margin of error was provided.