Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

European countries tired of 'difficult' Irish says Eurocrat

European countries are in no mood to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty just to accommodate the "difficult" Irish, according to the highest-ranking EU civil servant from Ireland.

Secretary General of the European Commission, Catherine Day, said Ireland's 'No' vote has tarnished the country's image and damaged its ability to influence events in the EU.

She told a Dail committee yesterday that when Irish representatives at meetings try to voice concerns on issues other than Lisbon, the mood among other delegates is that "the Irish are being difficult" again.

This has led to the Irish having to "think twice" before raising issues, she added.

Ms Day said that the 'No' vote has meant that, for the time being, other member states tend to view Ireland only through the prism of the Lisbon Treaty.

"But I do not believe that Ireland's image has been tarnished irrevocably, provided we are able to ratify in a reasonable time period.

"The mood in most of the other member states is that they want to get on with the real agenda and put an end to the institutional debate.

"Lisbon gives us the tools we need to face the challenges of the 21st century -- and these challenges look even bigger today in the aftermath of the financial crisis then when the treaty was agreed."

She said the Irish Government was not coming under any "undue pressure" to make a final decision.

She told the Committee on Ireland's Future in the EU that she didn't think it was politically conceivable that the EU would "throw away" eight years of work because the Irish don't want to proceed.

"There is a sense of concern and frustration in other member states. Many years of debating went into it.''

"I think the other member states are very keen to accommodate Ireland in providing reassurances,'' she said. "I don't see any willingness to re-open the treaty.

"The goodwill does not go so far as to changing the treaty.''