Wednesday 23 September 2009

Irish Lisbon treaty referendum: The facts

The mission of the Irish government’s Department of Foreign Affairs is to advance Ireland's political and economic interests in the European Union and in the wider world, to promote Ireland's contribution to international peace, security and development both through the European Union and through active participation in international organisations, in particular the United Nations, to protect Irish citizens abroad, and to pursue reconciliation and partnership on the island of Ireland.


EU instrumental

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that much of Ireland’s capacity to pursue its interest hinges on its standing in the European Union and its relationship with the other EU member states.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, in daily contact with the EU institutions and the member states’ capitals, must be acutely aware of the European dimension of the Lisbon Treaty, approved by 26 national parliaments, but still hanging in the balance in Ireland.

A negative outcome in the Irish referendum on 2 October would be a major setback for the European Union, the other EU member states as well as for Ireland’s standing and interests.

Even without guarantees and assurances, any responsible government in Ireland would recommend a Yes vote, but governments also have obligations to inform the public in a factual and correct manner.


The Lisbon Treaty 2009 web pages of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs contain the relevant facts about the referendum issues, for the voters in Ireland and for other interested Europeans.

The pages are easy to navigate, and their contents are:

• Home (
• Legal Guarantees and Assurances
• Legal Guarantees and Assurances Explained
• Lisbon Treaty Explained
• Proposed Amendment to the Constitution
• Your Questions Answered
• 30 Minute Guide
• White Paper
• Publications
• Speeches & Media
• Related Documents
• Links
• Contact Us

In addition, there is a search function.

Further links on the thematic pages offer access to all the facts an informed voter can wish for, including the consolidated (readable) Treaty of Lisbon.


Another Department of Foreign Affairs web site,, offers general information about Ireland’s membership of the EU, with thematic pages on:

• Home – What’s new (
• The EU & You – How the EU is relevant to your life
• About the EU – History, how Ireland became a member, how the EU works
• Ireland & the EU – What EU membership means for Ireland
• The EU in the World – Foreign Policy, Development Aid, Peacekeeping
• Your Questions – Ask us a question; Frequently asked questions

These web pages offer readers suitable background information about European integration from an Irish perspective.


… and opinions

The Treaty of Lisbon is far from ideal, but what can we expect from a document which required unanimous agreement between 27 governments and approval in all the EU member states (where 26 national parliaments have given their consent)?

Still, the incremental improvements are not negligible. The European Union would work better under the Lisbon Treaty and the democratic legitimacy of EU legislation would increase.

For me as an EU citizen, reverting to the prospect of the unsatisfactory Treaty of Nice for the foreseeable future would be deeply disappointing.

I hope that on 2 October 2009 the Irish voters turn out a resounding Yes for the future of Europe and for Ireland’s future in Europe.

Ralf Grahn

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