Call for more Nice referenda

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Series Details Vol.7, No.24, 14.6.01, p2
Publication Date 14/06/2001
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Date: 14/06/01

By David Cronin

A leading European think-tank is urging more EU states to put the Nice Treaty to referenda, following its rejection by Ireland last week.

Nicholas Whyte from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) said that a lesson from its No vote was that an increasing number of citizens believed that EU decisions were being made by a "political elite", without any say from ordinary people.

Commenting on a call by Austrian far-right firebrand Jörg Haider for his country to have a similar poll to Ireland's, Whyte said: "If the Austrians want to have a referendum, they should have one."

But he stressed that the treaty was not dead. "Ratification is not essential for enlargement. We never had to have a [treaty-revising] inter-governmental conference for enlargement before, so strictly speaking we don't need one now."

Daniel Keohane, a research fellow with the London-based Centre for European Reform, agreed that the Irish vote would encourage those clamouring for Nice's rejection in other member states.

But John Palmer, director of the European Policy Centre, dismissed claims that more powers were being transferred to bureaucrats. His organisation says national vetoes should be removed in all areas of

EU decision-making other than those concerning basic constitutional issues. "The opposition to the treaty in Ireland voted on issues which were quite irrelevant," he added.

This week's Göteborg summit will consider a letter from Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder, underlining that there should be no slow-down in accession talks. But uncertainty surrounds how Silvio Berlusconi's new Italian government might react, given that its Northern League partners are avowed Eurosceptics.

A leading European think-tank is urging more European Union states to put the Nice Treaty to referenda, following its rejection by Ireland in June 2001.

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