(AFP) – Jul 17, 2008
LONDON (AFP) — Britain has formally ratified the European Union's beleaguered new reform treaty, whose future was plunged into doubt when Irish voters rejected it last month, a spokesman said Thursday.
The final stage in approving the Lisbon Treaty was completed when the "instruments of ratification" were filed in Rome, some four weeks after it was passed by parliament in London.
"The documents were lodged in Rome yesterday," said a Foreign Office spokesman, referring to the official papers, sealed and bound in blue leather, which were handed to the Italian foreign ministry.
The Lisbon Treaty, which is designed to streamline decision-making in the expanding bloc, was thrown into limbo after Irish voters rejected it in a referendum on June 12.
Leaders of the 27-nation bloc are grappling with how to salvage the treaty after the Irish "No" vote, since it has to be ratified by all member states to come into force.
Britain's parliament passed the treaty on June 18, and it was given Royal Assent the next day, despite fierce opposition by the main opposition Conservative Party and other eurosceptic critics.
The final stage in ratification was to "deposit the instruments of ratification" in Rome, since the Lisbon Treaty is formally an amendment to the 1957 Rome Treaty which founded the European club.
The British approval comes as French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces possible protests in Ireland when he travels to Dublin next Monday, in his role as current EU presidency holder.
EU leaders met in Brussels shortly after the June 12 Irish "No" vote, and agreed to discuss the issue again in October.
A key adviser to the French president said Wedesday that Sarkozy could ask Ireland to hold a second referendum on the document, but with some minor changes.
Sarkozy's comments were described as "deeply insulting" by Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh, who speaks for the party on international affairs. Sinn Fein was the only major political party in Ireland to oppose the Lisbon Treaty.
"In the month since the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to reject the Lisbon Treaty, we have listened to a succession of EU leaders lining up to try and bully and coerce us into doing what they want," O Snodaigh said.
"The fact is that the people have spoken and the Lisbon Treaty is dead."
Eamon Gilmore, leader of Ireland's opposition Labour Party which backed the treaty, told the Irish Independent that Sarkozy should be told "in blunt terms" that Irish leaders needed time and space to consider their options.
French and Dutch voters torpedoed the EU constitution by voting against it in popular votes in 2005. The Lisbon Treaty replaced it, but critics say it is basically the same document with a different name.
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