No stalemate over Enlargement

Centre of International Relations

There has been a lot of media and inter-political group debate about the negative impact that the Irish ‘No’ on the Lisbon Treaty might have had on Slovenian EU-Presidency. The Irish rebuttal without a doubt cast a shadow over the presidency; however it would have had the same effect in the case of any other EU country presiding at the time. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dimitrij Rupel, has expressed his hope that the French Presidency will find a way to solve the quandary surrounding the Irish rejection.[1] Slovenian Prime Minister, Janez Janša, believes that the Irish votes against the Lisbon Treaty are not votes against the EU and that the process of ratification will continue.[2] The President of the Republic, Danilo Türk, sees the Irish refusal as an opportunity for all EU citizens to consider the kind of instrument the EU should be in order to help find the right answers to the world’s challenges in times of globalisation and to encourage people think of the EU as their broadened homeland.[3]
 
Two implications of the Irish ‘No’ can be observed. Firstly, the consequences it has brought about for the incoming French Presidency in relation to its concentration and continuity of policies and processes on the EU political agenda, which touch upon the institution of presidency and extend beyond the French term. Secondly, the possible stalemate the non-ratification of Lisbon Treaty can have on further enlargement of the EU, especially to Western Balkan states.
 
As for the first, the media has noticed that the grandiose plans of the French President Sarkozy (some of them, such as the Mediterranean Union, also watered down in the course of the Slovenian Presidency) risk being overshadowed by the stalemate in the ratification process, not only after the Irish ‘No’, but also after the Polish “cold shower”[4] when the Polish President Lech Kaczyński announced that there is no point for him to sign the ratification bill of the Polish Sejm. However the more sobering view, shared amongst the political elite is that while everybody will be busy solving the Lisbon Treaty, France will freely shape the existing EU to its liking on many of otherwise important issues.
 
As for the second, a special attention in the light of the standstill of the Lisbon Treaty ratification process has been directed towards a possible redefinition of the Western Balkans’ chances in the EU accession process. Despite the French President’s recent statement that Croatia could not adhere to the EU without the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel, affirmed that it can.[5]
 
Slovenian analysts have assessed the ‘panic’ which has arisen among the neighbouring Balkan states after the Irish ‘No’ as unnecessary. Even with the unsuccessful launch of Macedonian EU negotiations, and a well known French presidential incumbent’s scepticism of the EU’s ‘finalité-géographique’, the claims that the EU enlargement will now come to a hold are claimed to be unfounded.[6]




[1] STA/Delo: Rupel: Slovenija na evropskem in svetovnem zemljevidu (Rupel: Slovenia on the European and World map), 2 July 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/63074 (last access: 5 July 2008).

[2] RTV Slovenija: Janša: Proces ratifikacije se nadaljuje (Janša: the process of ratification continues), 17 June 2008, available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sections&func=read&c_menu=38&c_id=176327 (last access: 5 July 2008).

[3] STA/Delo: Türk: Ozemeljska razsežnost in mladost države sta naši prednosti (Türk: Territorial extension and youthfulness of the country are our advantages), 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/62624 (last access: 5 July 2008).

[4] Delo: Francija prevzela vodenje Unije: Slavje v senci poljskega ‘ne’ (France takes over the EU: Celebration in shadow of the Polish ‘no’), 2 July 2008.

[5] STA/Dnevnik: Sarkozy meni, da Hrvaška ne more v EU brez Lizbonske pogodbe, Rupel pravi, da lahko (Sarkozy belives Croatia can not enter the EU without the Lisbon treaty, Rupel says it can, 17 June 2008.

[6] Ana Ješe: Irski “ne” ne sme vplivati na vključevanje zahodnega Balkana v EU [Irish “no” cannot bare influence on the accession process of the Western Balkans to the EU), online edition of daily “Delo”, 25 June 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/62648 (26 June 2008).