|Vol.7, No.38, 18.10.01, p2
RENEWED fears that a second Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty may fail are expected to be raised by EU leaders at tomorrow's (19 October) Ghent summit.
Diplomats concede that the European Commission's refusal to authorise the granting of state aid to Aer Lingus, the national carrier, will harden anti-EU feeling among many Irish voters. With transatlantic routes accounting for 40 per cent of its business, the airline is considering major redundancies to cope with the slump in air travel following the 11 September atrocities.
After a meeting with Taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern in Brussels yesterday, Commission chief Romano Prodi said the Irish public was "mature enough" to separate the issue from the Nice Treaty.
He dismissed suggestions that the Commission's formal reprimand against Ireland's budgetary policies earlier this year had been a factor in Nice's rejection in June's referendum. Ahern's government is committed to holding another poll, hoping his compatriots will accept the treaty a second time round. A Belgian diplomat last night said that Aer Lingus' problems would probably be discussed at Ghent.
Renewed fears that a second Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty may fail are expected to be raised by EU leaders at the Ghent summit on 19 October 2001.
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