Gathering in Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers will talk on how to respond to the Irish rejection of the Lisbon reform treaty.
Ireland was the only state to hold a referendum and voters rejected the treaty by 53.4% to 46.6% last Thursday.
Unless approved by all 27 EU states, the treaty cannot be implemented. Despite the Irish rejection, the majority of EU members agree : those who have yet to ratify the treaty should carry on and do so.
The foreign ministers will want to hear from their Irish counterpart, Micheal Martin, how they can overcome the crisis. On Thursday a two-day summit will start in Brussels, were they will chart the way ahead.
But there is no obvious solution for the Lisbon treaty, has said Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister. The text is meant to streamline the workings of the EU and give it a stronger voice in the world.
BBC European affairs correspondent, Oana Lungescu, reports that, amid concern and frustration, the EU is looking for answers to those questions :
Why did the referendum come up with such a clear no? What changes could be made to accommodate the disparate concerns of Irish voters? How soon is a second vote possible, if at all?
“The discussions are not likely to go too far, we will not be asking him anything precise”, an unnamed senior EU diplomat told AFP news agency.
“People are still stupefied by the decision of the Irish, we need to wait for the clearing of everybody’s brains”, said Andrew Duff, a UK Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament.
Victory for liberty and reason
On Monday French president Nicolas Sarkozy (photo) is due to arrive in the Czech capital, Prague, in order to held talks with the Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Slovak leaders.
Mr Sarkozy’s Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus’s signature is needed for the treaty’s approval. But by calling the Irish No a victory for liberty and reason over elitist plans and European bureaucracy, the Czech president has broken ranks.
Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, is also facing pressure to stop the treaty from going through the last stage of ratification on Wednesday.
In the same time, calls for a multi-speed Europe have been revived by more federalist leaders, like Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker (photo, from nouvelobs.com).
They say some countries could push forward with integration, in what he called a Club of the Few.
The treaty’s aim is to helping the EU to cope with its expansion into eastern Europe.
For a streamlining of the European Commission, it provides the removal of the national veto in more policy areas, a new president of the European Council and a strengthened foreign affairs post.
The treaty is due to come into force on 1 January 2009.