Enlargement threatened by Nice No vote - Commission


The European Union's enlargement into

"One thing is sure: if there is a second no, enlargement is in trouble," said Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

"Enlargement may suffer a serious delay," he told reporters. "It's as simple as that."

Jonathan Faull, spokesman for European Commission President Romano Prodi, went further.

He said: "At the very best, failure to ratify Nice would cause delay, uncertainty and a considerable amount of unsettled relations for a while."

He added that it was possible that the European Commission's lawyers were already looking into the legal implications of a second Irish no vote.

The Nice Treaty, named after the French Mediterranean city where it was agreed by EU leaders in December 2000, comprises key institutional and power-sharing reforms to enable the European Union to add up to 12 new member states from as early as 2004.

To go into force, however, it needs to be ratified by all of the 15 current EU member states.

Parliamentary ratification has already been completed in 12 countries, with lawmakers in Belgium and Greece still to give their stamp of approval.

In Ireland 54 per cent of those who cast ballots in a referendum on the issue last June last year voted against it.

Only about a third of the electorate turned voted.