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The date for Ireland’s referendum has been set as 31 May 2012. This paper argues that the issues presented by the Treaty are both simple and fundamental. They are simple because the Treaty in essence imposes a legal obligation on each Contracting State to adopt balanced budgets and to undertake to work jointly towards economic policy fostering the smooth functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union and economic growth. The Fiscal Treaty does not raise the myriad of complex and wide-ranging issues arising in previous referenda on proposed amendments to existing European Union (EU) or European Communities (EC) Treaties. The issues are fundamental because the consequences of a no vote would be catastrophic for Ireland, according to the author. This paper considers these consequences.
Paul Gallagher is the former Attorney General of Ireland. He served as Attorney General from his appointment by President Mary McAleese in 2007 until March 2011. He was called to the Bar in 1979. He has been a Senior Counsel since 1991 and a Bencher of the Kings’ Inns since 2005.
This paper forms part of a series of working papers on the euro crisis by leading Irish commentators.