European leaders are gathered for a two-day summit in Brussels to
search for a way forward for the European Union after Irish voters
rejected the EU treaty in a referendum last week. From Paris, Lisa
Bryant reports it is unlikely a breakthrough will be achieved during
At a news conference with Irish Prime Minister Brian
Cowen, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso dismissed
chances the 27 European Union leaders gathered in Brussels will reach
any kind of quick solution to the crisis facing the bloc after
Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty.
"We agreed that the
decision of the Irish people must be respected," said Barroso. "We
equally agreed that the right of other member states to reach their own
position on the treaty should also be respected. At this evening's
dinner of the European Council the [Irish prime minister] will share
his analysis of the results of the referendum. I fully agree with his
view that the vote was not against Europe."
Union countries have approved the treaty, with the British parliament
giving it the green light Wednesday. Ireland, with a population that
constitutes less than two-tenths of one percent of the entire EU
population, is the only member holding a referendum on the treaty and
the only country to have rejected it.
A number of member states
are pushing for the other EU countries to vote on the treaty. That
may increase pressure for Ireland to hold another referendum on the
document although Irish voters could vote "no" once again.
told reporters he expected more discussion on the future of the
European Union and its treaty at another summit this October.
Minister Cowen said Ireland would begin talks with fellow EU members,
agreeing that a quick fix during this summit was not in the cards.
is far too early yet for anyone to put forward proposals," he said. "I
fully accept that we will need to work intensively in the coming months
to identify what possible solutions may be available to us."
rejection of the treaty is particularly a blow to France, which takes
over the rotating EU presidency next month. French President Nicolas
Sarkozy has a number of ambitions plans, including a new
European-Mediterranean partnership, and aligning the bloc more closely
in matters of immigration, defense and taxes. Those plans may now face