Rerun of vote ahead of European elections unlikely, says Pöttering


SECOND REFERENDUM:PRESIDENT OF the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering has admitted that it is unlikely a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty will take place before next June's European elections.

Speaking in Brussels after meeting EU leaders, including Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Mr Pöttering said: "We hope a solution will be found by the end of next year. That would be a good development but we would prefer it if it entered into force before the European elections. But from a realistic viewpoint, we have to assume that won't be the case."

If the treaty doesn't enter into force before the June elections, a draft French presidency document stipulates that 18 extra MEPs would be added but not directly elected to the European Parliament, to compensate for the losses that would otherwise be imposed under the existing Nice Treaty.

The commission and its president, however, would be nominated as usual straight after the elections.

The draft document also says that Ireland will retain its commissioner (along with all other member states) and will get "the necessary legal guarantees" on taxation policy, family, social and ethical issues, and security and defence - provided the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by the end of October next year.

Mr Pöttering said he had urged Mr Cowen and other EU leaders to clear the way for ratification of the treaty as soon as possible, and added that Ireland should be allowed to retain its commissioner if it made possible the passing of the treaty as a whole.

However, he advised the Government to learn from the mistakes of the June referendum.

"The people took the referendum too lightly the first time around and the contact with the population was not as intensive.

"It just shows that the dialogue with citizens was not serious enough. You have to learn from the past."