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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
European press relieved at Irish vote
Reactions to the Irish vote in favour of ratifying the Treaty of Nice on European Union enlargement dominate the continent's papers.The Irish are praised for behaving responsibly and not punishing the candidate states.
And there is support from the press in future potential member states.
But the vote leaves questions about the image of the EU and the integration process.
Europe's collective sigh of relief
Le Figaro in Paris says: "The Irish said a clear and massive yes this weekend to the enlargement of the European Union."
It says the result of this "last-chance referendum" on the Treaty of Nice "was greeted with great relief in Brussels and the European Union candidate countries".
While the treaty was rejected last year in the first Irish referendum on the issue, when far fewer people bothered to vote, the paper says that the "strong turnout" this time "got the better of the Eurosceptics".
It adds that the result also represents "sweet revenge" for Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's government, which it says is doing very badly in the opinion polls.
"Relief" is also how a headline in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung sums up reactions to the referendum.
The paper suggests that the rejection of the treaty in the previous referendum was a protest against the way the EU is run rather than a vote against enlargement.
"The Irish chose not to punish the reformed states of central and eastern Europe again for the rather badly-run Brussels bureaucracy," it says.
The paper believes that a second "no" would no doubt have thrown the EU off course. "The Irish 'yes' must be an incentive for everybody to devise a better EU in the reform Convention," it concludes.
The Madrid daily El Pais says, without naming any names, that: "The EU has breathed a sigh of relief - which is insincere on the part of some."
"But conducting successive referendums when the first one goes wrong does not help democracy, nor does it improve the image of a European integration that is often incomprehensible to the majority of citizens," it argues.
"What has happened highlights the need to find other formulae which make it possible to reform the EU's basic texts without, as was the case with Ireland, the fate of 470 million Europeans in an enlarged EU depending so much on the opinion of a country of four million inhabitants," the paper adds.
In Germany, the Frankfurter Rundschau says the referendum leaves "a bad taste in the mouth".
"Thus one is entitled to ask hypothetically whether or not the Fifteen would have pushed through their project quite in the same way if for example a big member state, rather than little Ireland, had blocked the ratification process," it says.
The paper believes that the Irish were persuaded by "warnings and veiled threats" as well as "calls for solidarity" from candidate countries to reluctantly save the EU from what it calls "a crisis of undreamt-of proportions".
Austria's Die Presse argues that Ireland rather than just the EU will benefit from the yes vote. "Ireland will not become Europe's outcast and may continue to play its part," the paper says.
But it warns that "this is not a victory for Europe" because the two referenda have shown what it calls "subliminal opposition" to EU integration, which is perceived as too deep and too fast.
"The patient has recovered after a first accident, but the scars remain," it says.
Hungary for enlargement
The Hungarian paper Nepszabadsag carries official reactions welcoming the result.
"Ireland took a stand in favour of the enlargement of the European Union, which is appreciated by Hungary as an expression of solidarity, which is one of the community's basic principles", it quotes the Hungarian Foreign Ministry as saying.
"On behalf of the Hungarian people, I congratulate every Irish citizen who voted responsibly", the paper quotes the Hungarian President, Ferenc Madl, as saying.
"The Irish have got an excellent mark in the subject of responsibility. They understood that EU enlargement, therefore the future of Europe, was in their hands", the paper quotes the foreign minister, Laszlo Kovacs, as saying.
Irish give Romania hope
Romania's AZI says that the vote represents an "important success for the government in Dublin". "Meanwhile," the paper says, "the high-ranking officials in Brussels are even happier because the Irish vote paves the way for EU enlargement in 2004".
"Although Romania is not part of this wave of enlargement," the paper concludes, "the government in Bucharest and the population as a whole are now more hopeful that Brussels will accept Romania's bid for EU entry in 2007".
Romania's Cotidianul says the happiest person of all is Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern "because he has escaped a new embarrassment and a wave of criticism from his European partners".
The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
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