From the European Jewish Press to which I give thanks.
DUBLIN/BRUSSELS (EJP)---Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said his counry has given a "clear and resounding" backing to the Lisbon Treaty, a package of reforms to make an EU of 27 members more "streamlined" and efficient.
Speaking after about two-thirds Irish voters on Friday approved the EU blueprint, he added: "This is a good day for Ireland and a good day (for? word missing in article.) Europe. "We as a nation have taken a decisive step for a stronger, fairer and better Ireland and a stronger, fairer and better Europe."
Voters had rejected the treaty in the first referendum 18 months ago.
But government ministers, opposition politicians and CEOs from international companies lined up during the campaign to warn Irish voters that rejecting the treaty for a second time risked plunging Ireland deeper into recession.
All 26 other EU countries have ratified the treaty by parliamentary procedures but the Polish and Czech presidents have delayed a final signing until the Irish vote.
Ireland is the only country out of the EU's 27 to hold a popular vote on the Lisbon Treaty, a text that is largely the same as the Constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters four years ago.
Following the Irish Yes vote, the Lisbon Treaty could enter into force by January 2010. (I love the choice of words here.)
The new treaty creates completely new institutions, including the post of EU President (Tony Blair?)and a "Foreign Minister" who will lead a new European diplomatic service.
Following negotiations, Ireland was given guarantees that the reform programme would not interfere with tax, neutrality, family values and the right to life or the rules on Commissioners.
"I believe that the European Union needs the Lisbon Treaty so that we can be more effective, and more accountable, in delivering an agenda that produces concrete results for our citizens," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso commented after the Irish vote. "Now that all Member States have democratically approved the Lisbon Treaty, I hope that the necessary procedures for its entry into force can be completed as quickly as possible in Poland and the Czech Republic."
Joseph Daul, leader of the center-right European People's Party, the largest in the European Parliament, said the vote result would boost European unity.
"The EU will speak with one voice and act with one voice when the Lisbon Treaty is ratified on the basis of a set of common values precious to all Europeans," he said.
Irish backing also improves the prospects of the EU pushing on with deeper integration between its members and further enlargement.
"It can hardly be more than a question of limited time before we can finally push the button for the better European cooperation that the Lisbon Treaty will give us," Sweden's Carl Bildt, who holds the EU presidency, said.
Croatia is next in line to join the EU and Turkey is hoping to become a member, even though the EU has complained about what some see as the slow pace of economic and political reforms by Ankara.
Macedonia is also a candidate country and several Balkan states hope in the long term to join.