Ireland's future in europe: Scenarios and implications

This report was prepared at the request of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Ireland's Future in the European Union. Its purpose is to identify the range of options available to the Government regarding Ireland's relationship with the European Union and, in particular, the Lisbon Treaty. It discusses the nature and foreseeable implications of each option, but does not make recommendations. Discussion of particular scenarios does not constitute their recommendation. With respect to the 'big picture' of Ireland's future relationship to the EU, the State has three major options: (1) continued membership with limitations in several policy areas, (2) economic engagement through the common currency and the European Economic Area but withdrawal from the EU's political or decision-making structures, and (3) membership in a yet-to-be-constructed two-tier Europe. A hypothetical fourth option - total disengagement - is neither economically feasible nor demanded by any major political or social group, so it is not discussed in this report. With respect to the narrower but thorny issue of the Lisbon Treaty, the Government has a wide range of options. The first three are premised upon a renewed attempt to seek ratification of the Treaty. The next three are premised upon the other Member States working with Ireland in the event of an Irish decision not to attempt to secure ratification of the Treaty or a failure of this attempt. The remaining four are premised upon Ireland not ratifying the Treaty and the other Member States pursuing a path that does not require Irish involvement.
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