20080613 ireland lisbon treaty 18
Supporters of the "No" campaign display placards during the count of the ballots for the Lisbon Treaty referendum at the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin, Ireland. - 


KAI RYSSDAL: You know those threats of trade wars that erupt between Europe and the U.S. from time to time? We might soon be thinking of those as the good old days because this country's biggest trading partner's having a political crisis that could eventually affect our economy. It's thanks to the Irish. Yesterday, Ireland voted down a key European Union treaty. From the European Desk in London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.

ANNOUNCER: Votes against the proposal: 862,415.

STEPHEN BEARD: Irish opponents of the treaty were jubilant when they heard the result. But the U.S. government won't be cheering.

Washington would be better off if the Lisbon treaty took effect, says Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. A streamlined E.U. would be easier for the U.S. deal with on trade, climate change and the global economy.

GIDEON RAHMAN: If this vote means, and I think it does, that plans to try to get European policy a little bit more unified, a bit more effective . . . If those plans are now shelved or put on hold for quite a while, then I think that will be a source of frustration for the United States.

Corporate America may also regret the Irish vote for a very different reason. Matts Peerson is with a pro-business think tank called Open Europe. He says the treaty would have handed a competive advantage to American businesses by wrapping European companies with extra red tape.

Matts Peerson: The treaty that the Irish voted on would have been bad for Europe in the sense that it would have held European businesses back. It would have been good for the U.S., obviously, if you see Europe and the U.S. being in competition with each other.

Today the euro fell sharply against the dollar on news of the vote but recovered later. The longer-term economic repercussions are not clear. The Irish prime minister said this evening, "We are in uncharted territory."

EU leaders will meet next week to decide how to proceed.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.