World News and Trends: Second Irish vote may lead to new EU presidential office

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Second Irish vote may lead to new EU presidential office

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According to a Daily Telegraph article, "Secret talks to create a European Union President and Foreign Minister will begin in the New Year after the Irish government confirmed it would hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty [the renamed EU constitution]" ("Secret 'EU President' Talks Begin as Ireland Agrees to Vote Again," Jan. 12, 2009).

Negotiations on these two new positions created by the Lisbon Treaty had ceased when the Republic of Ireland voted to turn the treaty down last June. A positive result is considered likely with special concessions to Ireland such as a permanent Irish European Commissioner and legal guarantees that the EU will keep hands off the country's military neutrality and tax, social and ethical issues. But that's a lot, and some observers question the long-term ability of the EU to fully honor these guarantees.

William Hague, British shadow foreign secretary and a member of the Conservative Party, stated: "It would be a serious mistake to take the Irish people for granted. It would be democratically illegitimate to start putting the renamed EU constitution into force when the Irish people have yet to give their democratic consent" (ibid.).

An editorial in The Times said that "the EU has many challenges, chief among them [is] understanding democracy" ("No Still Means No," The Times, Dec. 12, 2008). In other words, the European Union doesn't take "no" for an answer and is determined to press ahead in spite of opposition from concerned voters. (Sources: The Times [London], The Daily Telegraph [London].)