Monday, April 14, 2008

Irish memo in full

Here's a copy of the Irish memo in full:

Irish have picked May 29 for voting but will delay an announcement to keep the no camp guessing (please protect). DFA's EU director gives us referendum timetable and details of the bill, to be published next week. Aim is to focus the campaign on overall benefits of EU rather than the treaty itself. Concern about the potential impact of a WTO deal and of
Sarkozy.

The draft, largely incomprehensible to the lay reader, had been agreed following lengthy consultation with government lawyers and with the political parties.

The bill would enter parliament in the second week of April and it would probably take two weeks to go through and be passed around 22 April. The minister for the environment would thus be entitled to set an order naming the date for the referendum between 30 to 90 days of the order being made. Technically, the Taoiseach and Ahern saw a slight advantage in keeping the no campaign guessing. 29 May was the assumed date in working plans.

Mulhall said a date in October would have been easier from a procedural point of view. But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French presidency - particularly related to EU defence - were just too great. Sarkozy was completely unpredictable. The only other unhelpful event the Irish thought might impact on the May vote would be a WTO deal based on agricultural concessions that could lead the powerful farming association to withdraw its support.

I ran through the UK parliamentary ratification timetable and noted that the refernedum vote on 5 March would be a particularly sensitive moment. Mulhall remarked that the media had been relatively quiet on the ratification process so far. We would need to remain in close touch given the media crossover.

Mulhall said other partners - including the Commission - were playing a helpful, low-profile role. Vice-president Margot Wallstrom, who had been in Dublin yesterday and today, had told Dermot Ahern that the Commission was willing to tone down or delay messages that might be unhelpful.

??? ??? ???...so Irish thought treaty was taken for granted...... David Miliband not going

Most people would not have time to study the text and would go with the politicians they trusted.