I had forgotten some of the little rituals of EU summits. So it was a pleasant surprise – on entering the Justus Lipsius building this morning – to see the video screens announcing “free gift for journalists”. Claiming my bounty from the Slovenians – who are currently presidents of the EU – was a bit like taking part in a treasure hunt. You had to walk through a maze of sub-terranean corridors, following the arrows labelled “Gift-Cadeau”. Eventually I was presented with a black t-shirt, bearing the baffling slogan – “I feel Slovenia”.
There are certainly no gifts for the Irish on offer here, after their own baffling rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. After the summit, it is even clearer that the game plan is to get all the other 26 countries to ratify – and then to pressurise the Irish to vote again. But there are still a couple of snags. First, the Czechs are dragging their feet and may have trouble with their constitutional court. Second, nobody really seems to have thought through what happens if the Irish say “No” a second time.
I think the Germans would be strongly tempted to try to sling them out of the EU. But others – the British; the Scandanavians; the Poles – would resist. And that really would be a crisis. Read more