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EU 'must find treaty solution'

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. File photo
Mr Cowen said the referendum result was not "just Ireland's problem alone"

The EU must help find a solution on how to move forward after Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish prime minister has said.

Brian Cowen also admitted that there was "no obvious solution before us".

Some EU governments have been urging other nations to continue ratifying the treaty while a solution is found.

Ireland was the only EU nation to hold a referendum on the treaty, which cannot be implemented unless approved by all 27 EU states.

Irish voters on Thursday rejected the treaty in a vote by 53.4% to 46.6%.

'Finished' treaty

"I want Europe to try and provide some of the solution as well as just suggesting that it is just Ireland's problem alone," Mr Cowen told Ireland's RTE radio on Sunday.

Irish voters give their reasons for voting No or Yes for the Lisbon treaty

"Although Ireland has a position here that we have to try and deal with.

"As things stand if there is no change, if there are no political developments, if we can't come up with any solutions then obviously this treaty does not proceed," Mr Cowen added.

France and Germany have described the "No" vote as a serious blow but urged the EU to press ahead with the project.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this week that ratifications must carry on so that the Irish vote did not "become a crisis".

But Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the treaty was finished, since any further ratification was impossible.

Streamlining

His is a lone voice among EU leaders, but his views will probably resonate with many European voters who did not get a say in a referendum, says the BBC's Oana Lungescu in Brussels.

Ratifications should continue to take their course
Jose Manuel Barroso
European Commission President

The third failed referendum on an EU treaty in three years can only be seen as a serious blow to the EU's credibility at home and abroad, our correspondent adds.

The European Commission says nations should continue to ratify the treaty.

Lisbon is supposed to replace the European constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The treaty is aimed at helping the EU to cope with its expansion into eastern Europe.

It provides for a streamlining of the European Commission, the removal of the national veto in more policy areas, a new president of the European Council and a strengthened foreign affairs post.

It is due to come into force on 1 January 2009.

National parliaments in 18 countries out of the 27 have completed ratification so far.


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