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Polling Day on the Green Island

2009/10/02

Early this morning, the Irish started going to the polls to decide on the future of the Lisbon Treaty. It’s an exciting referendum. Politicians as well as the entire civil society in a country hard hit by the economic crisis, have been extremely committed to the referendum debate. I am hoping for a high turnout and – of course – for a yes on the green island.

The Lisbon Treaty is very important for the European Union. It makes the Union more democratic, effective and able to make decsisions. Citizens will be in focus through the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is part of the Treaty.

The European Parliament will enjoy co-decision in important issues related to justice and home affairs. Qualified majority voting will also be introduced in this area, which means that the Member State with the lowest ambition will no longer be setting the speed. National parliaments will be involved at an earlier stage, while openness and transparency will be reinforced.

Two important positions will be filled – a High Representative, acting as a foreign minister charged with coordination of EU foreign policy. A European external service will also be established for this purpose. A permanent president will leda and coordinate the European Council for 2,5 years. This will improve the continuity of the Union’s work.

Altogether, the Treaty of Lisbon is a more modern and democratic Treaty, adapted to a Union with 27 Member States and even more on their way in. Polling stations are open until late this evening, but the results from the vote in Ireland will not be ready until lunchtime tomorrow. I keep my fingers crossed!

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