It is sometimes suggested that the Lisbon treaty should go ahead on the basis of only 26 ratifications, without Ireland, after the result of the referendum last week. Looking at the text of the Lisbon treaty, this is clearly impossible. In the final provisions of the treaty, Article 6 reads as follows:
“1. This Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of the Italian Republic.
2. This Treaty shall enter into force on 1 January 2009, provided that all the instruments of ratification have been deposited, or, failing that, on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step.”
All ratifications are needed for the treaty to take effect. 26 will not do.
Now, there is an alternative strategy: that the 26 draw up a new treaty containing the provisions of Lisbon and adopt that instead. However, that course of action would require a new set of ratifications of the new treaty in the 26 member states, and would mean an end to the European Union as we know it. Not impossible, but undoubtedly unwelcome, and almost certainly so unlikely as to be not worth talking about. The treaty, if there is to be one, needs an Irish Yes.