What's up, Europe? Ireland votes on EU treaty

Pedestrians pass placards in support of and against the European fiscal treaty in a street in Dublin, Ireland.

Kai Ryssdal: The European news of the day is more political than economic. Ireland is voting on whether to agree to the EU's fiscal stability treaty -- an agreement that had been seen before the latest recurrence of Greek and Spanish drama as a way out of the debt crisis over there. Today it's our way into the story, in a new epsiode of What's up, Europe? Louise Williams is in Dublin we caught her between updates on Irish Radio. Louise, good to have you with us.

Louise Williams: Hello. How are you? Greetings from a very gray Dublin.

Ryssdal: Gray Dublin. Good. Isn't it always gray in Dublin, by the way?

Williams: No. We just had a period of sunshine. Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe not. But the rain has descended upon us in the last few days -- the last few days of campaigning for the referendum and the actual referendum being held today. It's really, really glum outside.

Ryssdal: Well let's remind people about what this referendum is about. It's the referendum in Ireland on the European Fiscal Treaty, which is supposed to solve all the problems, right?

Williams: Problems? I don't think this is going to solve anybody's problems. I mean, it's really interesting. If you look at it in the context of problems, people are saying a vote of yes is a vote out of fear and a vote for no is a vote of anger. I don't really think that solves anybody's problems any which way. Neither of the votes comes from a very positive place, do you know? A lot of people have said would there be an option of voting yes or no or yes, but...

Ryssdal: We like to have that option here sometimes. But it does -- a yes vote on this referendum would get Ireland access to European bailout money should it need it, right?

Williams: Well, should it need it and should the treaty not be changed by France. But look, there are so many and ifs and but ifs involved with this treaty. We don't really know if what we're voting for is actually going to be respected in the long term, it may be shifted along the way. That's I suppose the nature of the European Union. You're in coalition with a whole lot of other parties who have other interests and those interests are becoming more and more disparate.

Ryssdal: I wonder if the Irish think -- they've had their moment in the bailout spotlight. It was not pleasant. But now everybody is paying attention to Spain and Greece and the Italians. Do you feel maybe you dodged a little bit of a bullet and you've done your thing and now you can move on?

Williams: No, that's the truth of it. It's very likely we're going to need -- call it a bailout, call it whatever you want, but it's very likely we're going to need more money ourselves. This is the reality. It's freefall. We don't know what's going on. And I don't really have a huge amount of confidence that our politicians across Europe -- and obviously I'm talking about in Ireland -- really know what's going on either.

Ryssdal: That makes me about as glum as the weather you're having.

Williams: Oh don't. I'm sorry, didn't mean to bring you down. You're right. It's really rare to get some rays of sunshine in Ireland. And it is an awful disappointment. Of course everybody is speculating. Does this rainy weather mean that the no vote will be stronger? Does this rainy weather mean that the yes vote will be stronger? So we've sort of got meteorologists competing with political analysts on the airwaves to figure out how the vote's going to go.

Ryssdal: Louise Williams in Dublin, thank you.

Williams: Thank you.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...