Views on BG | June 23, 2001, Saturday // 00:00

DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland`s failure to ratify the Nice Treaty could hold up European Union enlargement, European Commission President Romano Prodi has warned. Prodi, who is in Dublin for a series of meetings, said it was essential the country vote in favour of the treaty. A referendum in Ireland last week voted against allowing parliament to ratify the treaty by 54 to 46 percent.
Prodi caused confusion on Thursday when he was quoted as saying ratification of the treaty might not be legally necessary for enlargement. But on Friday he said it was essential that each of the current 15 EU countries ratified it. Among those Prodi was meeting on Friday were representatives of Sinn Fein and the Green Party, who formed a loose alliance, together with pro-life activists and anti-Europeans to vote No in the June 7 referendum. He was also scheduled to meet Irish parliamentary opposition party leaders and employers and trade union representatives - all of whom backed the campaign for a Yes vote. Asked if Ireland's failure to ratify could slow or stop the pace of enlargement, Prodi said: `Of course that can hold up enlargement. As I told them, there is a political engagement of all members states to ratify.` Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern renewed Ireland`s commitment to Europe at a dinner in Prodi's honour on Thursday night. The Irish premier gave an assurance that Ireland's present and future economic success was bound up with the EU. He also made it clear that the vote against the treaty was not a signal of Irish opposition to the enlargement of the EU by 12 central and eastern European countries.
The Nice Treaty is intended to pave the way for the entry of 12 applicant countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus and Estonia.

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