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French minister says Lisbon treaty not dead

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s European affairs minister told a newspaper on Monday that the EU treaty rejected by Irish voters can be saved even if the process of overhauling the bloc’s institutions is delayed.

“I don’t think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed,” Jean-Pierre Jouyet, secretary of state for European affairs told the Le Figaro daily.

The Irish referendum result will dominate this week’s summit of EU leaders with France particularly concerned as it prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the 27-member bloc in July.

France has been among countries calling for the process to continue, despite the rejection of the treaty, which has been approved by 18 countries but which requires ratification by all 27 members to come into force.

“We hope that the process of ratification will continue. We have to ensure that the Irish take the time to reflect. With them, we will find a solution,” Jouyet said.

He said France would pursue the goals it had set for its presidency despite the vote, which is set to prolong the uncertainty sparked by the rejection of the earlier proposed EU constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

“It won’t be fundamentally affected,” he said of the French presidency. “We still have the means to implement the policies necessary for Europe.”