Quiet… And not very interested?

Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty
In general, the main attention after the European Council was on the decisions about economy and climate, with the conclusions on the Lisbon Treaty getting only scant attention. Officially, optimism towards the treaty entering into force was maintained: Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for enlargement, said that he is confident that the Lisbon Treaty will take effect.[1]
As to what kind of end result the decision to hold another referendum in Ireland will have, many pointed out that the financial crisis has shown Ireland how much it has to gain from its membership; without being a member of the monetary union, it would have suffered the same fate as Iceland. It is hoped that the financial crisis gives the key to unlock the situation and get the Lisbon Treaty ratified.[2]

A threat to Estonia’s long-term priority of enlargement?

University of Tartu
Attitudes towards the EU in Estonia must be interpreted in the context of the economic crisis that hit Estonia full force in the end of 2008 (GDP is forecasted to decline by 5.5 percent in 2009). In this context, membership in the EU is seen as a source of stability. In a recent speech to the Parliament on the government’s EU policy, Prime Minister Ansip called on the public to reflect on the situation that Estonia would be in today were it not a member of the European Union. According to Ansip, it would be clear that in that case: “Estonia’s security would be more fragile, the economic decline would be deeper and it would be inappropriate to use the word welfare to describe the ability of the citizens to cope economically. All European countries that do not belong to the EU, be they more prosperous than Estonia, such as Iceland, or poorer, such as Moldova, are having a harder time today than the countries that are members of the Union”.[1]
This sentiment appears to be shared by the general public: according to the recent Eurobarometer survey, Estonians are more confident than any other nation in the EU that their country has benefited from being a member of the Union (78 percent responded affirmatively to this question).[2]

Lisbon Treaty and Danish opt-outs

Danish Institute for International Studies
In general, the solution to the ratification crisis was met with great satisfaction in Denmark and was conceived as a sign that the EU, despite crisis, is still able to find a common way forward. The renewed will to reach consensus and produce results was interpreted as a result of the effective leadership of the French Presidency, and as a result of the current financial crisis and the economic recession which have created a need for the member states to move closer together.[1]
Prior to the European Council meeting, the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, voiced satisfaction with Ireland holding a second referendum with concessions from the EU on the right to keep one Commissioner per country. The concession was easy to grant for the Danish government as the Danish debate on the Lisbon Treaty had also showed concerns about reducing the size of the Commission.[2]

Croatian concerns about the enlargement prospects after the Irish ‘No’

Institute for International Relations
After the negative outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, Croatian media mostly focused on its impact on the further enlargement. In this context the media quoted optimistic statements from EU officials like the one made by Luc Van den Brande, President of the EU Committee of the Regions – during his visit to Croatia – that the country had made excellent progress toward the EU membership and should not be discouraged with the results of the Irish ‘No’.[1]This was also a central message of the international conference “Croatia Summit 2008” held in Dubrovnik on the 5 July 2008, as journalist Luka Brailo summarised. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader stated at the Summit that the Irish ‘No’ should not stop the enlargement and leave this part of the continent in undefined, disordered and uncompleted shape.[2] Journalist Bruno Lopadić wrote that Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty came at the most unfortunate moment when the Union was expected to show all of its capabilities for cooperation and mutual work in facing the needed changes and the upcoming financial crisis.[3]
The conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty welcomed with a relief in Croatia

Hope for an early second Irish referendum but no major concern about the future of the EU

Belgium                                                                                                                                                                                         Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles

Conclusions of European Council seen mainly positive

Wolfgang Schüssel, former Chancellor and current foreign affairs spokesman of the Austrian Peoples Party (ÖVP), stated that the solution found at the European Council in December 2008 was a good proposal for Ireland and that he expected the schedule for the Lisbon Treaty to stay on time. The Lisbon Treaty is in his words “the central core for the EU for the next years”.[1]

The decision to maintain the “one state – one Commissioner” principle was generally perceived positively, only Johannes Voggenhuber, MEP of the Greens, expressed his concern that this decision would lead backwards into a re-nationalisation of the Commission.[2]

European Elections: Payoff or new chance?

The European Parliament elections in June 2009 are seen by the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) as an opportunity for a payoff with the parties which denied Austrians a popular vote regarding the Lisbon Treaty. The party keeps emphasising that it is not against the EU as such, but that it wants the EU to change, as they see current developments as a huge mistake.[3]

The parliament will finally decide on the Lisbon Treaty

Czech Republic

If we look at the political discourse in the country, the long term consequences of the problems of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty are discussed only to a limited degree. Since the Czech Republic has not yet ratified the treaty, the debate is still primarily about whether to ratify it or not. It is foremost the critics of the treaty that actively stress that the treaty would radically change the EU. The advocates, on the other hand, tend to emphasise that the treaty will improve the functioning of the EU without providing any radical changes.[1] In the academic debate, some of the think tanks have engaged in more long term reflections on what could be the consequences of a failure to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, if, for instance, it could open the door to an EU based on flexible integration.[2]

European Council’s decision will help to overcome the institutional crisis

Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies
The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was perceived by the vast majority of Cypriots as a serious setback in the efforts for a stronger and more democratic European Union. The conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 regarding the fate of the Lisbon Treaty, even though it was not widely covered by the Cypriot mass media, was perceived by many of our interlocutors as a step forward towards a more coherent and efficient European Union.[1]
Commenting on the conclusions of the European Council, Cypriot President, Demetris Christofias, expressed his overall satisfaction, adding that the decisions taken by the EU leaders during the European Council of December 2008 will help the EU to overcome the institutional crisis caused by the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.[2]