Irish attitudes to Lisbon researched

Wednesday 16 September 2009 17.26
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EU - Study into Irish attitudes
EU - Study into Irish attitudes
Vaclav Klaus - Criticises pressure from France
Vaclav Klaus - Criticises pressure from France

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said the Government is carrying out a research survey to better understand Irish attitudes to Europe and the Lisbon Treaty.

Micheál Martin, speaking to a joint sitting of the Committees of European Affairs and European Scrutiny, said he expected it to be published in the autumn.

Fine Gael Deputy John Perry said politicians were partly to blame for a negative response to the EU and the No vote on 12 June.

He said politicians use the EU as a scapegoat, blaming the EU for unpopular directives, such as the Nitrates directive, even though they have been agreed to by Ireland at the Council of Ministers.

Gay Mitchell MEP also blamed politicians in part for the No vote, saying they blame the EU for everything.

He also questioned the role of RTÉ. He said that as the provider of a public service, RTE 'was not fair' in its provision of information.

He said he did not think RTÉ intended to be unfair but that there should be an examination of its public service role in relation to referenda.

Minister Martin responded by saying he thought RTÉ's output in the run-up to the referendum was balanced. However, he said he would have liked more substantive treatment of the issues.

Cyprus ratifies Lisbon Treaty

Cyprus has ratified the Lisbon Treaty despite the opposition of the Eurosceptic communist party of President Demetris Christofias.

A total of 31 MPs out of the 49 present in the 56-seat parliament in Nicosia voted for the treaty, while the 17 communist members present voted against and there was one abstention. The vote capped six hours of tense debate.

Christofias's AKEL party had already voted to oppose the treaty in a June 23 ballot, but the president had insisted that his government would back the treaty despite his own party's stance.

AKEL is the senior partner in a government coalition and joint largest party in parliament with 18 seats, the same number as right-wing opposition party DISY.

But DISY had pledged to back ratification, as had AKEL's coalition partners the centre-right DIKO with 11 seats and socialist EDEK with five, thus ensuring the treaty's safe passage.

Czech President hopes treaty will be blocked

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he hopes the Czech Republic's highest court or its senate will block ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

'I hope that the Constitutional Court or Senate will not allow adoption of the Lisbon Treaty here,' Mr Klaus, who is well known for his euroscepticism, told the Lidove Noviny newspaper.

Mr Klaus also hit out at French efforts to put the treaty back on the ratification track after its rejection by Irish voters last month. France took over the rotating EU presidency on Tuesday.

'I expect a lot of pressure to create a European Union 'a la France',' he said. 'Our view is necessarily different and therefore we must make an effort that the European Union does not develop in the way France and the refused Lisbon Treaty is pushing for.'

The Czech head of state backed Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski's declaration on Tuesday that he will not sign the Lisbon Treaty, but he refused to say in the interview if he would do likewise himself.

While some EU member states are keen to push on quickly with ratification, the Czech Republic is a notable exception, with a strong faction within the senior governing party, the Civic Democrats, sharing Mr Klaus's viewpoint.

EU leaders had to accommodate Prague's reservations at their recent summit in Brussels.

Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is currently stalled in the Czech Republic while its highest court examines whether it is in conformity with the nation's constitution.

The Civic Democrats have an overall majority in the upper house of parliament, the Senate, and thus could block ratification of the treaty there, political analysts say.