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Fiscal Pact poll wording will be ‘technical and factual’

WORDING of the forthcoming referendum on the EU’s Fiscal Stability Treaty will be strictly technical and factual, a Government source said today.

RTE was told that the referendum will only relate to amending the Irish Constitution to allow the State to ratify the treaty.

It is understood the wording of the ballot paper will not, therefore, pose a broader question about membership of the euro.

"The reasoning from the very start was always that the ratification process wouldn't be framed in any other way. We're not positing this in any way except to change the Constitution."

Earlier today the Taoseach Enda Kenny signed the EU fiscal treaty before the referendum is held in Ireland to approve it.

EU officials stressed it is normal practice for every country intending to sign up to the treaty to sign it at this point.

Twenty-five EU leaders, representing every country bar Britain and the Czech Republic who are opting out, signed the treaty to impose tougher budget controls on their states.

The clear legal position is Mr Kenny signed the treaty, subject to ratification via the referendum.

The signature is a sign of commitment to approving the text, pending approval.

The Irish Government would also have signed previous treaties, including Nice and Lisbon, which took two referenda each before they were passed.

Ireland is unlikely to be the only country that will have to formally ratify the treaty at a national level.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who opted out of the treaty, last night bitterly complained that he was being ignored at an EU summit on jobs and growth.

He formally raised objections in Brussels that his ideas for swift action on cutting red tape, boosting businesses and opening up the single market were not reflected in draft summit conclusions.

A dozen countries are signed up to the "Plan for Growth in Europe", set out in a joint letter initiated by Mr Cameron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and circulated to all member states 10 days ago.

The letter emphasises the need to match the economic crisis response with a plan to "lay the foundations for strong and lasting economic recovery".

A rival Franco-German letter has also set out steps towards recovery, but EU officials denied there was any significant difference of view about the direction to take out of the crisis.

However, Mr Cameron pointed out forcefully at the summit table that some suggestions in the Franco-German letter explicitly appeared in the draft conclusions - but none of the plans set out in his 12-state document.