What's It All About?

The Treaty of Lisbon was negotiated by the 27 Member States of the European Union and signed in December 2007. All countries need to ratify the Treaty for it to come into force. Because of the “No” in Ireland’s referendum last year, the Treaty has not been implemented. The other Member-States asked Ireland to indicate what needed to change for the Treaty to be accepted.

After last year’s vote, the Government identified the reasons why people voted No and over the last few months they negotiated a New Deal with legally-binding guarantees on the main issues of concern. When the Irish people vote on the Lisbon Treaty later this year, it will come with the following guarantees which will have the full force of International and EU law once ratified as protocols:

• Ireland, and all other Member States, will keep a Commissioner
• Ireland will remain in control of its own tax rates
• Irish neutrality will not be affected: This means no conscription whatsoever and no common defence.
• Ireland retains control of sensitive ethical issues such as abortion .
• Workers’ Rights and public services are valued and protected in Ireland and the EU, in particular through the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

On this basis and in light of these legal guarantees, the Government is again putting the question to the people asking ‘What is your final answer?’. The Governments have done their work. Now we the people must decide.

Why another Treaty and why now?

Timely and appropriate reform is the life blood of all successful organisations. The EU is no exception.

The Lisbon Treaty is designed to address contemporary challenges such as the impact of globalisation, the economic crisis, climate change, drug smuggling, trafficking of women and children, energy security, sustainable development, achieving the millennium developments goals, cross-border crime and immigration.

The Treaty restates the Union’s fundamental values of democracy, justice, rule of law, respect for human rights, solidarity, sustainability and tolerance. Making Europe democratically and organisationally fit-for-purpose in the 21st century is in Europe’s interest and is entirely consistent with Ireland’s values and interests.

What does the Treaty actually do?

The Treaty has three broad aims:
1. To allow the enlarged EU of 27 to act with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
2. To strengthen the democratic character of the Union.
3. To enhance the role of the EU in the global system.

The Lisbon Treaty does this by introducing:

  • A clearer, fairer voting system.
  • A clearer distinction on who does what between the EU and member states.
  • An enhanced system of democratic checks and balances including a stronger say for national parliaments on EU legislative proposals.
  • A greater say for the European Parliament in EU budget and law making.
  • The Council of Ministers acting in public when its votes on EU law.
  • A Citizen’s right of initiative.
  • And on strengthening the EU’s role in the global system the Treaty proposes - A full time chair of the European Council.
  • A stronger representative for the EU on the world stage.

Why Should we vote Yes?

5 good reasons to vote YES?

  1. Vote Yes to keep Ireland strong in Europe.

    Last year, people were worried that we would lose our automatic right to an Irish EU Commissioner. Now, thanks to the New Deal on offer, if we vote yes our Commissioner stays at the EU table. [EU Council Conclusions, Dec. 08]


    -Voting no means losing the Commissioner.


  2. Vote Yes to protect jobs and build the economy
    • The EU is Ireland’s single biggest customer, buying billions of Euro worth of goods.
    • Since we joined the EU, Ireland’s exports have grown by 600%.
    • The EU has invested over €70,000 million in Ireland and continues to give billions in funding to agriculture, education and infrastructure.
    • Lisbon makes achieving full employment a legal objective of the EU.
    • Now is not the time to endanger Ireland’s most important relationship.


    -Voting Yes will be a key part of IrelandÕs economic recovery.


  3. Vote Yes to make the EU more democratic.
    • Your directly-elected representatives will have a greater say in how the EU is run. Lisbon will give your MEPs decision-making power in 95% of EU laws and it will decide the EU budget.
    • Your TDs and Senators will have a greater say in EU laws, and can scrutinize and object to draft laws.
    • You will have the right as a citizen to put issues on the EU agenda through a petition system
    • When your Government ministers votes on EU laws in Brussels, they will have to vote in public.

    -Voting Yes will deliver a more democratic EU.


  4. Vote Yes to help fight crime

    Each year thousands of lives are ruined by drug-dealers who smuggle drugs into the EU, and people-traffickers who traffic women and children for exploitation in the sex-trade. Lisbon will allow EU states to work more closely to fight this appalling cross-border crime. The alternative is to do nothing.


    -Voting Yes allows the EU to clamp down on cross-border drug trafficking and sex crime.


  5. Vote Yes to ensure Ireland remains a central member of the EU

    - Voting Yes keeps Ireland’s EU future in our own hands. Voting No adds to uncertainty — the last thing Ireland needs right now.

What if we vote No?

The Lisbon Treaty will not enter into force. Ireland’s European future is in the hands of others. A second consecutive rejection of the available Europe is a message to the wider world that we are uncertain about where we stand.

Adding a new layer of uncertainty at this time of economic crisis will compound and not confront the challenges we face.

Our commitment, not our size, has been the hallmark of our influence inside the EU. A second ‘No’ will put a psychological and political doubt over Ireland’s commitment to Europe. This is not the way to enhance our future negotiating power or to win friends and influence people in the EU and it is not cost-free. Ireland will not get a better deal.

Legally, this is unknown territory. We think there is good reason to be worried that a second ‘No’ vote will seriously undermine Ireland’s place in the EU. It will also add to the international uncertainty about Ireland’s stability as a country.

We know how voting ‘Yes’ will help the country and our economy. Nobody has shown us how voting ‘No’ helps create jobs, or a better future for Ireland.

What’s in the Treaty for Ireland?

The New Deal

After last year’s vote, the Government identified the reasons why people voted No and over the last few months they negotiated a New Deal with legally-binding guarantees on the main issues of concern. When the Irish people vote on the Lisbon Treaty later this year, it will come with the following guarantees which will have the full force of International and EU law once ratified:

  • Ireland, and all other Member States, will keep a Commissioner.
  • Ireland will remain in control of its own tax rates.
  • Irish neutrality will not be affected: This means no conscription whatsoever and no common defence.
  • Ireland retains control of sensitive ethical issues such as abortion.
  • Workers’ Rights and public services are valued and protected in Ireland and the EU, in particular through the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

These guarantees were agreed at the European Council on June 19th, and they will have the force of International Law. The States have also agreed to ratify them as a protocol in the near-future, which means they will have full Treaty status.