One point in José Manuel Barroso’s interview with RTÉ that has so far failed to receive much coverage is the EU Commission president’s admission that, even if there is a second no vote to the Lisbon Treaty, the world won’t fall in and the European Union will continue pretty much as before. If the Lisbon Treaty fails then it’s full steam ahead with the Nice Treaty instead. No talk of crisis, no mention of stasis, no mumblings about a disaster for Europe.
“We have either one Treaty or the other Treaty,” said Barroso. “If there is not the Lisbon Treaty we keep the treaties that are now our legal base.”
However, Barroso was also very clear that the Lisbon Treaty will not be changed in any shape or form and, interestingly, seems to believe it is possible to create something known as a legally binding reassurance of a consideration (I’m looking forward to seeing that one fleshed out.)
“Certainly we cannot now change the Treaty. It is possible, I think, to give legally binding reassurances to the Irish that some points of concern that were expressed by the Irish people during the referendum are taken into consideration,” he said.
Barroso also admitted that, in his view, the extension of the number of EU Commissioners to 27 had not been a problem:
“We are working very well, we are working efficiently. Some are saying we are even working better than before.”
I doubt Barroso meant it but he seems to have outlined one good argument for the No campaign: It’s not a no to Lisbon, it’s a yes to Nice.