|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.45, 6.12.01, p6|
Pat Cox has warned he will campaign for a 'no' vote in a second Nice referendum if the Irish government tries to opt out of the new EU rapid reaction force.
After launching his campaign for the presidency of the European Parliament in a televised debate last week, the Liberal group leader said it might yet be necessary to tear up the Treaty and start again.
He warned that any attempt to enlarge the EU without Ireland's agreement could end up in long battles through the courts.
Every country in the EU must agree to the Nice Treaty before changes can be made to the institutions that will allow an expanded Union to operate efficiently.
So far Ireland is the only member state to vote no and while the government is expected to put the Treaty to a vote late next year, Taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern has not yet officially announced a second referendum.
Those opposed to the EU forming a peace-keeping rapid reaction force claimed it would affect Ireland's traditionally neutral stance and called for an opt-out.
But Cox believes such a move would be a huge mistake.
"If the Irish government were to seek an opt-out of the rapid reaction force I would support voting against [ratification of the Treaty] and I think others would also," said Cox.
If there was an attempt to introduce the treaty by the back door it would lead to a constitutional challenge in the Irish courts and, ultimately, the European Court of Justice, he argued.
"It would be very difficult and protracted. We need to vote yes in a second referendum. Otherwise we tear up Nice and speed up the Convention and inter-governmental conference and find another way to allow enlargement," he added.
To win the presidency of the European Parliament Cox will need the support of an outright majority of the 626 members in a secret ballot on 15 January.
If elected for the two-and-a-half year term, his presidency would coincide with Ireland's presidency of the Council in January 2004.
European Parliament presidential candidate Pat Cox has warned he will campaign for a 'no' vote in a second Nice referendum if the Irish government tries to opt out of the new EU rapid reaction force.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|