Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 12:25 UK

France refuses EU treaty revision

French State Secretary for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet (file pic)
France has an ambitious agenda for its EU presidency

The European Union must not embark on drafting a new treaty after Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty, France's Europe minister has said.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet was presenting France's plans for its six-month presidency of the EU, which starts next month, to the French Senate.

Mr Jouyet said there was broad agreement in the EU that ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should continue.

"One thing is certain - we won't start drafting a new treaty," he said.

"Europe didn't come to a halt on 13 June," when the Republic of Ireland's No vote on Lisbon was announced, he told the upper house of parliament on Tuesday.

"We cannot allow ourselves to delay decisions... which can be dealt with independently of institutional matters."

High-level discussions

The treaty is meant to streamline the workings of the enlarged EU and give it a stronger voice in the world. Under the EU's schedule, it is due to come into effect in January 2009.

Mark Mardell
No-one senior is talking about leaving Ireland out in the cold, but some MEPs are in favour of this 'coalition of the willing'
The BBC's Mark Mardell

In Luxembourg on Monday EU foreign ministers agreed to keep the Lisbon reform treaty alive. They said the nine EU members who had not yet ratified the treaty should carry on and do so.

A two-day EU summit in Brussels, starting on Thursday, is expected to chart the way ahead.

The treaty cannot be implemented unless approved by all 27 EU states. Only Ireland has held a referendum.

'People's decision'

French and Dutch voters rejected a previous - more ambitious - draft European constitution in 2005. The Lisbon Treaty retains many elements of that project.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin has said it is "far too early" to seek a solution to the Irish rejection of the treaty.

Creates post of an EU president, elected for two-and-a-half years, rather than current six-month rotating presidency
A new high representative for foreign policy, to boost EU's external voice - a merger of the existing two foreign policy posts
Commissioners from two-thirds of member states - no longer from each state - and rotated among member states to serve five-year terms
More decision-making by qualified majority voting, reducing national vetoes, but new voting system only takes effect in 2014
Enhanced roles for European Parliament and national parliaments

Speaking in Luxembourg, Mr Martin told reporters: "The people's decision has to be respected and we have to chart a way through... It is far too early for proffering any solutions or proposals.

"There are no quick fix solutions."

But it is now up to the Irish Taoiseach - or Prime Minister - Brian Cowen to find a way forward with the other EU leaders in Brussels, says the BBC's European affairs correspondent Oana Lungescu.

Leaders want to know what went wrong, what changes could be made to accommodate the disparate concerns of Irish voters and how soon a second vote may be possible, if at all, she says.

The most likely scenario, our correspondent suggests, is a declaration assuring the Irish that the treaty will not affect their policies on abortion, taxation and neutrality.

Rotating presidency

But one minister told the BBC that there may not be any concrete proposals until the next EU summit in October, by which time it will be clear how many other countries have ratified the treaty and on what basis Ireland could vote again, adds our correspondent.

Europe must go forward and if some states don't like this they must stay out of the way
Venko Dimitrov, Bulgaria

Most EU leaders have offered broad support for the treaty but have urged caution against immediate action to save it outright.

"It is time for a little bit of thinking and analysis," said Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of June.

The treaty 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.

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