In a few days the Irish rejection has turned the dull Treaty of Lisbon into explosive stuff. The treaty, as it stands, can not enter into force without 27 ratifications.
On the other hand, an end to treaty reform is a fundamental change of circumstances, since it contravenes the founding principles on which the European Union is built.
France and Germany have declared that the Lisbon Treaty is necessary to make the European Union more democratic and effective. They expect the remaining states to proceed with ratification.
In practice this means that the Lisbon Treaty would have to be suitably amended to serve initially and a new European Union would have to be established, at least if the unwilling want to make things difficult on the inside rather than to seek alternative arrangements.
If Great Britain decides to pull the plug on ratification, the group of non-ratifiers grows to at least two. This is a clear strategic shift from obstructionism to petrification. If we believe foreign minister David Miliband, Great Britain will throw its weight but also its fate into the ring.
In that case the Franco-German will have a stark choice: to accept the UK’s age old quest for a none-speed Europe or be ready to embark on the 21st century road towards an evolving European Union with less participants.
While fudge and immobility have been the traditional answers to difficult questions, France and Germany just might be resolved enough to do what it takes.