Barroso to be briefed on progress of Lisbon campaign


EUROPEAN COMMISSION:THE MOST senior Irish official in the EU returns to Brussels today where she will brief Commission President José Manuel Barroso on the progress of the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign.

Catherine Day, who is secretary-general of the commission – effectively head of the EU’s civil service – has spent the past week in Ireland undertaking a series of media appearances and public-speaking engagements to support the Yes campaign.

She said the outcome “is still all to play for” and that the Yes side would have to “redouble” their efforts to convince people of the benefits of a Yes vote. Asked if she was confident she said: “I have to be confident because this is a really important vote about Ireland’s future” and that “the stakes are enormous”.

However, Ms Day also told The Irish Timesthat if the country voted No, on October 2nd, that “the EU is not punitive and there would be no question of throwing Ireland out [of the EU] or taking repercussions” against the State.

But “speaking personally” she believes “the other 26 countries would not understand and would ask ‘‘what more does Ireland want in addition to the guarantees” already given to the Government.

While a No vote would not affect her position as secretary-general, “as an Irish person” she would be “very sad”.

Ms Day said the treaty will help Europe “to speak with one voice in helping to shape the new world order”.

She claimed that EU officials were “not faceless bureaucrats” and that “the EU did listen after the Irish No vote [last year] and provided the guarantees”.

During her visit, she had noticed “a hunger for information” about the treaty and “a greater awareness about the significance of this vote” among the public than last time. She was speaking in Kilkenny where she attended a pro-treaty event.