“The process of ratification must continue where it has not yet been completed,” Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in Gdansk, northern Poland, in a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel late on Monday.
Merkel said the Lisbon Treaty was necessary for the EU's future work and expansion, but stressed that that any solution would have to be agreed with Ireland and all the signatories.
All EU countries have to ratify the treaty for it to take effect. So far 18 out of 27 have done so. Ireland was the only member state legally required to put the issue to a public referendum.
Tusk said it was crucial that the Irish decision not be allowed to block further EU enlargement.
“The referendum cannot serve as a pretext to say the EU is closed. The EU must present a clear European perspective for Croatia and also Serbia,” he said.
But while Tusk rallied against the idea of a two-speed EU, with some states pursuing integration more quickly than others, Merkel was not as clear. “If we are speaking of reinforced co-operation in the political domain, everyone inside the EU must decide unanimously whether some member states can take a fast-track,” Merkel said.
Meeting briefly in the Polish Baltic port city of Gdansk, the leaders focused on looking for ways out of the crisis sparked by Ireland's torpedoing of the Lisbon Treaty, a series of reforms designed to streamline the bloc's decision-making.
The Polish parliament has already ratified the treaty, which is still awaiting the signature of conservative Polish President Lech Kaczynski. Kaczynski is demanding guarantees from Tusk's liberal government on opt-outs which Poland's previous conservative regime negotiated in the drafting process.
Germany's Merkel gave her “full support” to a Polish-Swedish initiative to reinforce the EU's ties with post-Soviet eastern states such as Ukraine and Georgia, among others.