EUROPE A LA CARTE
The Irish, after stunning the European Union by rejecting the EU’s latest attempt to consolidate power, will have to decided whether they want to remain in the 27-nation bloc, a leading member of the European Parliament predicted Wednesday.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of Germany added that the EU might even have to consider a new type of membership for nations that do not support all EU efforts to reform its political structure and streamline its bureaucracy.
“It raises the question: Should the Irish stay in [the EU], or should they simply leave?” he told the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. “I believe it is fair to ask if you want to remain. The question is very serious. We have never lost a member.”
He added that he, personally, would not want to see Ireland withdraw from the EU, “but the question has to be asked.”
Mr. Lambsdorff, deputy chairman of the German Free Democratic Party in the European Parliament, is the second visitor in Washington this week to reflect on the June 12 Irish referendum that rejected the EU’s reform treaty, which required unanimous approval from all member nations.
Declan Ganley, who led the opposition to the treaty in Ireland, told the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday that the treaty is “dead.” However, he warned that the “cabal of the unelected elite sitting in Brussels” at EU headquarters will try to force Ireland to vote again. Mr. Ganley reminded his audience that voters in France and the Netherlands rejected an earlier attempt to expand EU powers in 2005.
“What part of ‘no’ do they not understand?” he asked.
On Thursday, Mr. Ganley will address NDN, previously known as the New Democrat Network. Also on Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb of Finland will discuss the future of the EU when he speaks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In his remarks to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Mr. Lambsdorff added that member nations that reject certain parts of the EU’s programs but endorse others act like “Europe a la carte.” He warned that the trend could result in the EU establishing different levels of membership for different countries.
He urged the Irish government to hold another referendum and hope voters endorse the treaty.
“It is absolutely necessary to convince the Irish that the treaty is good for them,” he said.
However, he said, if the Irish reject it a second time, that “would only accelerate the discussion of a multilayered EU.” Officials would have to decide whether to give top priority to the most pro-EU nations and second-class membership to others.
“If we fail to carry the Irish,” he warned, “you can be prepared for another round of navel-gazing in the EU.”
‘STUCK IN PAST’