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EU to Ireland: your referendum won't stop EU financial treaty

Germany is angry that Ireland plans to hold a referendum on a treaty that will impose strict budget controls on EU members. Ireland has twice rejected EU treaties — but this time, it alone cannot scupper the deal.

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Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Italy's Premier Mario Mont, left, review the Honor Guards prior to their talks at Rome's Chigi Palace, Friday, Feb. 24.

Pier Paolo Cito/AP

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Despite German anger at Ireland's decision to hold a referendum on the European Union financial treaty, Europe will go ahead – with or without Ireland.

Dublin's snap decision to hold a referendum on the eurozone "fiscal compact" will have no impact on the plans, regardless of the outcome, politicians have insisted.

Yesterday's decision to greenlight a public referendum was taken on advice from Ireland's top legal official, attorney general Máire Whelan, who said that "on balance" a public vote was demanded by the Constitution.

Many in Ireland's governing coalition, nervous about the possibility of a rejection, sought to avoid a referendum – with some support from the EU. Prime Minster Enda Kenny said passing the treaty was in Ireland's national interest and that he was "very confident" of a yes vote. 

The compact imposes stringent budget controls on eurozone members, requiring that structural deficits not exceed 0.5 percent of GDP and that debt-to-GDP ratios be lowered to 60 percent and be kept at or below that level. Countries that run up excessive deficits will be subject to direct EU intervention in their economic policies and action can be taken against them in the European Court of Justice.

German news media today thundered about Ireland's decision.

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