The results of the Irish referendum – an unpleasant surprise for some Lithuanian politicians

The most important Lithuanian politicians declared their concern about the negative results of the Irish referendum. Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament (“Seimas”), Andrius Kubilius, emphasised that the results of the Irish referendum might have a negative impact on the Lisbon Treaty ratification procedures in other EU member states, first and foremost in the Czech Republic. He claimed to be concerned about the further development of European matters.[1] On the other hand he said that the negative Irish decision cannot be a handicap towards further development of the EU, for its further and deeper integration and enlargement. Both these elements are important to Lithuania.[2] Shortly before the Irish referendum, with a fear that the Irish would vote ‘No’ for the Lisbon Treaty, one of the best know European Parliament members from Lithuania, Justas Vincas Paleckis,[3] declared that in this case 4 million Irish people can prevent 496 million of the EU’s citizens from getting a new and much more powerful engine for the European Union.[4]
 
Some of Lithuania’s politicians did not hide their surprise by stressing that Ireland is one of the EU member states that have profited the most from its membership in the EU. For example, the member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament, Emanuelis Zingeris, said he was surprised how Ireland, who had received so much financial support from the EU, could have voted against the Lisbon Treaty.[5] The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament, Justinas Karosas, said there should be no panic; it is better to wait for the discussions and proposals.[6]
 
While most of the important Lithuanian politicians and political forces were disappointed about the Irish ‘No’ on the Lisbon Treaty, some Lithuanians demonstrated their support for the Irish decision. For example, a newly created political party ‘Front’, which claims to support the European integration, declared that they congratulate the Irish people who have rejected the Lisbon Treaty, which is distant from the people’s interests and is promoted by both trans-national corporations and bureaucrats.[7]
 
Support for the further ratification of the Lisbon Treaty
 
All major Lithuanian politicians claim that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should be continued. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus declared that despite the results of the Irish referendum the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should be continued.[8] He called the results of the Irish referendum a big puzzle for everybody, and he hopes that Irish politicians will propose a way out of this situation.[9] Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Petras Vaitiekūnas reported: “the history of the EU has proven that we can find solutions even in the most difficult situations. I have no doubt that this time we will also find a solution. We have to continue the Lisbon Treaty ratification procedures”[10].
 
On the other hand, some Lithuanian political scientists have doubts about this possibility. For example, the editor of the magazine “The State”, Darius Varanavičius, doubts if this could give any tangible results except for political pressure on Dublin to organize a second referendum - the possibility which has been rejected by the Irish Prime Minister.[11]

Bad consequences for Lithuania
 
It can be said that there is a common consensus in Lithuania that the results of the Irish referendum can only bring negative consequences for Lithuania.
 
A well-known professor of Vilnius University, Gediminas Vitkus, is paying attention to several possible outcomes if the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified. According to him, these events mean that no further enlargement of the EU and, possibly, no common foreign policy in the future. The good news, according to him, is that the results of Irish referendum will have no impact on the formation of the EU budget. Former chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament Vytenis Andriukaitis seconds this opinion. He claims that there is no doubt that the solution will be found in this situation.[12]
 
Another political scientist, Darius Varanavičius, warns that in case Lisbon Treaty fails, a common European energy policy would stay only a declaration (and Lithuania favours a lot a common European energy policy).[13].
 
According to the European Parliament member from Lithuania, Justas Vincas Paleckis, the EU could survive following the Nice Treaty, but then there would be a possibility for a ‘two speed Europe’ to emerge. According to him, different rules already exist – for example Euro and the Schengen area. In these circumstances Ireland would find itself on the ‘slow train’ together with their British neighbours and most of the countries that have entered the EU after the 20th century. He claims, that Lithuania has always been against a ‘two speed Europe’, because in this instance the weaker states find themselves in a less favourable position. If different rules emerge, Lithuania wants to be on the ‘faster train.’ This has been proven by the Lithuanian attempt to adopt the Euro and our membership in Schengen area, but we might not succeed to get on that train.[14] Another scenario is highly possible – having lost the referendum Ireland would become totally isolated – if other member states ratify the Lisbon Treaty, then 26 member states would step forward leaving Ireland behind.[15]
 
The leader of the Liberal Union, Artūras Zuokas, claims that the results of the Irish referendum demonstrate to the EU leaders that the people do not understand what their leaders are doing. They indicate that there is a need for a serious discussion on the future of the EU, but this discussion should not be held among the EU leaders, but instead among the EU citizens. And this might be ‘plan B’[16].
 
Considering the results of the referendum, another European Parliament member from Lithuania, Eugenijus Gentvilas, raises the question whether or not it is worth it to allow the member states to approve such complicated documents, instead of approving only the basic principles of the reform[17].



[1] Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo žinios, June 18th, 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6b-bd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[2] Valdas Adamkus: reikia tęsti Lisabonos sutarties ratifikavimą (ratification of the Lisbon treaty should be continued), News agency ELTA, June 16th, 2008, available under: http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=17409387 (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[3] Justas Vincas Paleckis was also an ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Great Britain and Ireland.
[4] Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo žinios, June 18th, 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6b-bd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Front: FRONTAS sveikina airius, atmetusius elitinę Lisabonos sutartį (FRONT congratulates Irish on the rejection of the elite Lisbon treaty), press release by a political party FRONT, June 19th, 2008, available under: http://www.elta.lt/zinute_pr.php?inf_id=867680 (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[8] News agency ELTA: V. Adamkus: reikia tęsti Lisabonos sutarties ratifikavimą (V. Adamkus: ratification of the Lisbon treaty should be continued), June 16th, 2008, available under: http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=17409387 (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[9] Dialy Lietuvos rytas: V. Adamkus: Referendumo Airijoje rezultatai - nemenkas galvosūkis (V.Adamkus: results of the Irish referendum is a serious puzzle), June 13th, 2008, available under: http://www.lietuvosrytas.lt/-12133657861212578067-p1-Lietuvos-diena-V-Adamkus-Referendumo-Airijoje-rezultatai-nemenkas-galvos%C5%ABkis.htm (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[10] Romas Gudaitis: Lietuva vėl liko padlaižė (Lithuania again was a creep), Daily Vakaro žinios, June 16th, 2008, available under: http://www.vakarozinios.lt/lt/naujienos/lietuva/lietuvos_politikos_kryzkeles/lietuva_vel_liko_padlaize (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[11] Darius Varanavičius: Airiškas galvosūkis Europos Sąjungai (Irish puzzle for the European Union), June 21st, 2008, available under: www.geopolitika.lt (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[12] Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo žinios, June 18th, 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6b-bd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[13] Darius Varanavičius: Airiškas galvosūkis Europos Sąjungai (Irish puzzle for the European Union), June 21st, 2008, available under: www.geopolitika.lt (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[14] Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo žinios, June 18th, 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6b-bd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[15] Justas Paleckis: Galingesnis variklis ir Airijos referendumas (A more powerful engine and the Irish referendum), Internet news site Bernardinai, June 9th 2008, available under: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles%2F80168 (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[16] Artūras Zuokas: Europos sąjungos planas (‘Plan B’ of the European Union), June 14th, 2008, available under: http://www.elt.lt/2008/06/14/europos-sajungos-planas-%E2%80%9Cb%E2%80%9D/ (last access: August 28th, 2008).

[17] Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo žinios, June 18th, 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6b-bd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: August 28th, 2008).