Majority still undecided about EU Treaty


60% of Irish people are still weighing their options for the 12 June referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, according to a poll published ahead of a visit to Ireland this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Only 28% of Irish citizens are certain to vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, while 12% said they would reject it, according to the poll, published by the Irish Sun newspaper on Monday (14 April).

However, although the number of undecided voters has decreased from 72% to 60% - compared to a similar poll in December - the outcome of the referendum is still far from certain. An earlier poll in March showed a much lower proportion of undecided voters - with 31% saying they were unsure about how they would vote.

The indecisiveness seems largely due to the lack of knowledge about the treaty - Only 6% said they fully understand it, while 25% said they had no understanding of it at all and 40% with very little understanding, according to the poll.

In an attempt to rally support for the treaty, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a pro-European speech at the National Forum of Europe in Dublin yesterday, saying that - "the Lisbon Treaty offers the best preparation for Europe's future" - and allows the EU to - "continue to flourish".

The Lisbon Treaty would increase the power of smaller EU states such as Ireland, the chancellor pointed out, as a new majority voting system allows them to block bigger countries such as Germany. The new majority voting system is rather - "a problem for the bigger states" - she said.

Addressing the sceptics, Merkel added - "I can only say that if everything remains as it is now, your concerns will definitely not be better addressed."

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD told journalists that Merkel's speech was the kick-off for a pro-European campaign in Ireland this week, with Commission President José Manuel Barroso visiting on Thursday (17 April).