Irish farmers backtrack on Lisbon vote

Having previously run a highly visible campaign threatening to derail the imminent referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on account of the EU’s negotiating position in the WTO, the Irish Farmers Association has fallen back into line with it’s longstanding position of support for Irish membership of the EU. As previously noted, Ireland does spectacularly well out of the CAP, and it looks as though the IFA has extracted a promise from the new Irish prime minister Brian Cowen that he was prepared to veto any WTO deal that was bad for Ireland.

An Irish government statement reads:

“The taoiseach assured the IFA that he was prepared to use the veto if a deal that is unacceptable to Ireland is put to a vote.”

I think the critical ‘if’ in the government statement gives sufficient room for maneuver for Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to carry on negotiating the end game of the Doha Development Agenda. It is highly unlikely that whatever final deal comes out of Geneva will be ‘put to a vote’ in the European Council. These things tend to go through without a vote, not least to give the impression of European unity, and so as not to imply that any country has ‘lost’. If necessary a side-deal will be done to give Ireland something in return for its acquiescence in the new trade deal.

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