The problem that now faces the EU is not so much that some more enthusiastic member states might break away to launch a "multispeed" union. In some ways this is already uncontroversially the case as attested by the Schengen area, the euro zone, and the so-called "G6" police-cooperation scheme. Also, a selective political union with a president and a foreign minister would be very difficult to establish -- given that it would need to include Britain (or lack global clout) and would probably be unacceptable to Germany in view of Berlin's overwhelming interest in stability at its eastern borders.
More likely is an attempt to isolate Ireland, moving ahead with the rest of the 26 member states. Ireland would then have to hammer out its own individual arrangements with the rest of the EU. This would set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the skeptics, openly undermining their powers within the EU combined with the threat of possible exclusion. The Lisbon Treaty could yet be rejected by the Czech Republic, where it has been submitted to the Constitutional Court for approval. Many other countries in Eastern Europe are also intensely skeptical of further political integration.
Russia, which increasingly vies for influence at the EU's eastern borders, will no doubt be following events with keen interest.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Ratifiers and Rejecters
RFE/RL's Ahto Lobjakas considers the implications of the Irish "No", and concludes: