Dublin rejects Steinmeier’s plan to leave Ireland behind

The Irish government has rejected German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s suggestion that the EU continue its integration process without Ireland after voters failed to approve the Lisbon Treaty on Friday.

Dublin rejects Steinmeier's plan to leave Ireland behind
A press conference at the Department of the Taoiseach after the vote. Photo:DPA

“The no to the Lisbon Treaty was not equivalent to a no to Europe,” spokesperson for Dick Roche, minister of state for European affairs, told German daily Berliner Zeitung on Monday. “The Irish are not anti-European. We don’t want to be thought of as Euro-sceptics like the British,” he said.

Over the weekend Steinmeier said had said the EU should find a temporary way of continuing the integration process without Ireland, describing the Irish rejection as a sharp setback for Europe and the integration project.

Later on Monday news agency AFP reported that the German foreign ministry said it was “conceivable” that Ireland would not take part in EU decision-making after its the vote, but stressed this was not the preferred solution.

“No one wishes or wants to exclude another member state against its own wishes from the EU decision-making process,” ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told a news conference. “But there could be … scenarios where for example a member state under certain circumstances says, ‘I am refraining from taking part in certain decision-making processes’,” adding that this was “exactly what we do not want.”

Jaeger said that Ireland had signalled a will to take part in the integration of the EU over the weekend.

“Our aim remains clear. We want to stick to this treaty,” he said. “The treaty is necessary for Europe. It makes Europe more efficient, more democratic and more transparent.”

The carefully drafted treaty was to have saved key parts of the EU draft constitution that failed when voters in France and The Netherlands rejected it in 2005. Ireland is the only country of the 27 EU members that requires a referendum vote to approve treaties. Voter turn out was low.