Crisis likely to favour Lisbon Yes - Barroso


EUROPEAN COMMISSION president José Manuel Barroso has said the economic crisis gripping Ireland was likely to make people vote Yes in a second Lisbon referendum.

At an employment summit in Prague yesterday, he said the Lisbon Treaty and further EU integration would provide a more social Europe that could help tackle unemployment.

“It is very difficult times that we are living in but it is obvious that countries like Ireland, Britain, France or Germany alone have much less instruments to cope with the crisis than if we act together,” he said. “I think that if there is some impact of the crisis on the attitude towards the Lisbon Treaty it would probably be in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.”

The summit, which is being held against a backdrop of fast-rising unemployment and sporadic social unrest in Europe, proposed a series of measures aimed at helping people to remain in work and find new jobs.

It asked EU states to consider measures to reduce non-wage labour costs such as removing regulations on small business and helping firms to cut working hours rather than lay off employees.

Cash from the European Social Fund is being made available to states and a €500 million globalisation adjustment fund – to help with retaining activities and job counselling – is being amended to make it easier for EU states to access.

Mr Barroso, who has welcomed the Czech senate’s ratification of Lisbon, said the treaty would help Europe to combat the economic crisis and create a more social Europe. “I really think citizens will rationally try to see that the European dimension of the Lisbon Treaty helps them in the face of the crisis,” he added.

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency in July from the Czech Republic, was more cautious about predicting the result of the second referendum. “I can’t say how that referendum would end because that’s up to the Irish people. It is not for me to say. Everyone understands that we want of course the Irish people to say Yes because we think it’s good for the Irish people.”

Some EU states have expressed nervousness that Mr Klaus, who is deeply hostile towards the Lisbon Treaty, could cause problems at the June summit if he is its chairman.