Irish Vote Could Make Stew of European Unity

Thumbs-down on Thursday would derail years of negotiations
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2008 11:00 AM CDT
A cyclist passes graffiti urging a 'NO' vote in Ireland's forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, in Dublin yesterday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – European Union reformers are aghast at the possibility that Irish voters could derail years of negotiations Thursday with a rejection of the constitution-like Lisbon Treaty, the Financial Times reports. Ireland is alone among the EU's 27 members in offering citizens a referendum on the treaty, which streamlines and consolidates EU power. The treaty must be ratified unanimously to take effect.

European leaders have thus far declined to meddle with the Irish vote, but France's foreign minister warned yesterday that the rest of the EU would look at Ireland with "gigantic incomprehension" if it voted no. Ireland has received large cash infusions from the EU, and its boom economy was made possible by EU integration. Polls for several Irish papers have given conflicting predictions.