EU reaction: How Europe views the decision


EU:THE EU authorities adopted a relaxed public response to the referendum but officials privately acknowledged risks to Ireland's bailout and the wider campaign against the debt crisis.

Insisting it was unquestionably in Ireland's own interests to ratify the treaty, certain officials went so far as to say any rejection of the treaty could lead the State into a default situation if no aid from the permanent ESM rescue fund was available.

Although it was speculated that the vote might strengthen Dublin's campaign to ease the cost of rescuing the former Anglo Irish Bank, well-placed EU sources said Europe would be very reluctant to raise accusations that it was seeking to "bribe" the Irish people. A senior European official, well-versed in history of previous Irish plebiscites, said the terms of engagement in the fiscal treaty were not the same as in the Lisbon and Nice treaties.

"The question facing Ireland is not 'are we going to block this or not?' but 'are are going to join this or not?'" the official said.

The official was quick to recognise that any rejection could pose serious problems for Ireland on debt markets.

"If Ireland were to vote No, then that would pose a question for Ireland because it would be much more difficult to Ireland to raise funds and it may have to pay a higher rate of interest."

Saying any such development might also have an adverse impact for Ireland's credit rating, the official also acknowledged that there would be negative implications for the effort to overcome the debt debacle.


GERMANY:OFFICIALLY, BERLIN held its tongue on the referendum news from Dublin yesterday but there was no mistaking the message behind the scenes.

"We see a direct connection between the treaty and further bailout payments," said one senior government official, saying the referendum decision vindicated Berlin's demand to link bailouts and future reforms.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said the German leader had "taken note" of the decision but "would not comment on sovereign Irish decisions" - a line repeated by all political parties.

However, Dr Michael Meister, a budget and finance spokesman for Dr Merkel's ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) said: "Whoever doesn't accept the treaty has no protection from the ESM bailout fund.

"If the Irish people think they don't need any ESM protection they can, of course, reject the fiscal treaty."

Dr Günther Krichbaum, CDU European spokesman in parliament, said the fiscal treaty would "immunise" Europe against debt-driven politics.

"The question Ireland has to vote on is: do we want to stand together, do we want a stable and prospering union from which future generations can benefit?" he said.

Dr Merkel's junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) made a similar link between the fiscal pact and future financial solidarity. A vote against the pact would call into question Ireland's membership of the euro zone, but not the EU.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) expressed concern that the Irish people were being asked to make an impossible decision - with consequences far beyond their own national borders.


FRANCE:AS THE news of the plan for a referendum in Ireland was being digested in Paris last night, political parties were bracing themselves for a renewal of France's own debate over the pact.

The Government's decision came just 24 hours after President Nicolas Sarkozy firmly ruled out a referendum in France on the grounds that "when you're dealing with a treaty with 200 articles, 250 articles, I can't see how you'd formulate a clear question."

He has come under pressure to consult the people on the deal after promising to hold referendums on significant issues if he is re-elected this spring.

Neither of the main political camps spoke on the record last night about the news from Dublin, but once the appropriate diplomatic response has been formulated, the question that will preoccupy French politicians is how this could play here.

The treaty has become one of the main dividing lines on foreign policy between Mr Sarkozy and his socialist challenger François Hollande.

The Socialist Party has misgivings over the pact's requirement to enshrine a budget-balancing "golden rule" in law, and Mr Hollande says that if elected president, he would seek to renegotiate the pact to give a more central role to economic stimulus over austerity.

The French electoral calendar means the treaty cannot be passed by parliament until after the election in May. For that reason, Mr Hollande's stance is being closely watched in other European capitals.


ITALY:IT MIGHT not mean a revisiting of the bad feeling generated by the Irish No votes in referendums on the Nice and Lisbon treaties, but this could still be a negative development in terms of Ireland's standing in Italy.

Michele Comelli, a senior researcher at the Rome-based foreign affairs think tank IAI, said that while everyone acknowledged Ireland's right to hold such a poll, the decision could still have negative repercussions, especially if the result was No. Dr Comelli suggested that an Irish No, while not binding for the compact treaty, could still generate a negative, domino effect by way of a loss of EU confidence.

That view was echoed by Italian financial daily Il Sole 24, which suggested that the Irish decision could yet cause problems at this week's EU summit in Brussels.