August 26, 2009 / 5:57 PM / 10 years ago

Ryanair joins business campaign for Lisbon treaty

DUBLIN, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I), Europe’s biggest budget airline, on Wednesday launched a campaign in favour of the European Union’s Lisbon reform treaty ahead of October’s Irish referendum.

Last year Ireland rejected the treaty designed to streamline EU decision-making, but will vote again on Oct. 2 after winning concessions on key Irish policy areas including military neutrality and retaining an EU commissioner.

The latest opinion polls show a majority now plan to vote “Yes” — many convinced by the need for EU support in Ireland’s worst downturn on record — but last year’s late swing to a ‘No’ majority shows opinion could still go the other way.

“Clearly, I am not a politician, I don’t have much interest in a lot of that constitutional mumbo-jumbo, but I am very concerned about this economy,” Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary told a news conference.

The treaty’s Irish opponents last week launched their joint campaign also focusing on economic policy, arguing that the treaty would leave ordinary workers worse off and exposed to more spending cuts. [ID:nLI279202]

The government has promised a livelier campaign than in 2008 but the most visible pro-treaty efforts have so far been by civic and business groups, with ministers distracted by efforts to clean up the banks and public finances. Last week the Irish unit of Intel (INTC.O), the world’s No. 1 chipmaker, also launched a campaign for a “Yes” vote, with plans to spend “a few hundreds of thousands of euros” of its own funds for the cause. [ID:nLK39760] (Reporting by Andras Gergely)

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