[JURIST] The Irish government agreed Friday to hold another referendum on the European Union (EU) reform treaty, also known as the Lisbon Treaty [EU materials; text], after EU leaders agreed to certain concessions [presidency conclusions, PDF]. At a conference in Brussels, members of the Council of the European Union [official website] agreed to legal guarantees that the Lisbon Treaty would not affect [Guardian report] taxation, abortion, or military neutrality laws. The presidency conclusions declared:
the Protocol will in no way alter the relationship between the EU and its Member States. The sole purpose of the Protocol will be to give full Treaty status to the clarifications set out in the Decision to meet the concerns of the Irish people. Its status will be no different from similar clarifications in Protocols obtained by other Member States. The Protocol will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The new referendum is expected to be held in early October.
Last month, the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic [official website] voted to approve [JURIST report] the Treaty of Lisbon, sending the document to Czech President Vaclav Klaus [official website] for ratification. Klaus has refused to sign, to avoid putting pressure on Irish voters. If the treaty is ratified, Ireland would be the only remaining EU country not to have ratified it. An Irish Times poll [report] published in November suggested [JURIST report] that 52.5 percent of Irish voters would approve the Treaty of Lisbon if it were modified so that Ireland kept a EU commissioner and clarified Irish concerns over neutrality, abortion, and taxation. In June, 53.4 percent of Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty [JURIST report] in a referendum. In 2003, Ireland famously conducted a revote on the Nice Treaty [backgrounder] on the institutional arrangements for EU enlargement after initially rejecting it in 2002. Ireland has been the only nation to hold a referendum to approve the Lisbon Treaty. All 27 EU states must ratify the pact for it to become binding.