BRUSSELS (AFP) — European leaders will seek a way to grant Ireland the reassurance its needs to approve the EU's Lisbon Treaty, without handing fellow nations the fraught task of formally ratifying a new text.
Irish Premier Brian Cowen insisted on the first day of a two-day EU summit Thursday that the guarantees -- that the treaty will not endanger Irish military neutrality or strict abortion laws -- should themselves hold treaty status.
Britain and others are loathe to grant Cowen's wish, fearful that such a move -- requiring formal ratification by all 27 EU nations -- would reopen a hornet's nest, the likes of which has already long delayed the Lisbon Treaty.
They instead have offered a simple EU "decision" -- still legally binding but not requiring further steps.
Last year Irish voters sent the European Union into an institutional spin when they rejected the treaty at a referendum.