Cowen downplays left's threat to treaty
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has downplayed threats from left-wingers that they will block changes to the Lisbon Treaty if the Government fails to hold a referendum, writes Sarah Collins in Brussels.
Mr Cowen said a deal sealed in Brussels making minor treaty alterations to allow eurozone countries to create a permanent bailout fund would not force a public vote.
"There isn't a transfer of competence [to Brussels] so our strong view is it is compatible with the Constitution," he said at the close of a two-day EU summit yesterday.
Referring to comments made by Socialist MEP Joe Higgins on RTE radio, Mr Cowen said: "Joe is one of our leading constitutional experts, I know, but it's a matter for people to consider their own positions."
EU leaders signed off on what they dubbed "radical" changes to eurozone monetary policy by creating the new fund, which will come into being in mid-2013 once the current €750bn pot expires.
They were at pains to present a united front after internecine spats over how to resolve the eurozone crisis have left them looking weakened and allowed markets to gain the upper hand.
Mr Cowen said Ireland had an important role to play in ensuring eurozone stability, given the €67.5bn loan it has been granted from the EU and IMF. "There is absolutely no room for complacency and certainly not for a country like Ireland," he said.