Politicians Trying to Keep EU Treaty AliveBy Lisa Bryant
16 June 2008

Politicians are scrambling to keep the European Union treaty alive after Irish voters rejected the charter in a referendum last Thursday. European foreign ministers met in Luxembourg, while President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which takes over the rotating EU presidency in July, held talks in Prague. Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

Where should Europe go after more than half of Ireland's voters rejected the European Union treaty in a referendum last week? On Monday, European politicians had no answers.

Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic (l) and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Luxembourg, 16 Jun 2008Meeting with fellow EU ministers Monday in Luxembourg, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel of Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters it is too early to talk about reviving what is known as the Lisbon Treaty.

"I would be risky to say we are going to bring the treaty back to life now, at the moment when we are facing a blockade or how shall I put it, this moment of truth. It is time for a little bit of thinking and analysis and listening," said Rupel.

Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin was equally cautious, saying the Irish rejection of the charter must be taken into account.

"We have to consult widely with our colleagues and we have to seek a way forward in view of what has happened," he said. "It is equally important to point out that there are consequences arising from the vote last Thursday - consequences for the union itself, for the treaty and indeed for Ireland."

In theory, all 27 members of the European Union have to approve the new treaty for it to go into effect. The document paves the way for creating a full-time EU president and a more powerful foreign policy head. So far, 17 nations have approved the treaty, with only Ireland rejecting it by referendum.

Now, Britain, France and Germany are among those members pushing for the rest of the EU members to vote on the charter. If they approve the treaty, it may step up pressure on Ireland to hold a second vote.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, whose country takes over the EU presidency in July, met in Prague with government leaders of Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to try to find a solution to the crisis. EU heads of state are also expected to address the matter during a summit Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
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