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EU's Barroso warns Ireland on commissioner right

DUBLIN (Reuters) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned Saturday that Ireland could lose its right to nominate an EU commissioner if it rejects the Lisbon Treaty for a second time.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso gestures during a news conference after meeting Former Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber (not pictured) in Brussels, September 18, 2009. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

“The only way to ensure that Ireland will always have a commissioner is to vote Yes to Lisbon,” he said in an interview with The Irish Times newspaper.

“If not, of course we have to reduce the amount of commissioners. This is in the current treaties and we are legally obliged to do it.”

Voters in Ireland will decide the fate of the bloc’s reform treaty on October 2 when they go to the polls in a referendum.

The treaty is designed to give the EU a greater voice in world affairs.

Opinion polls suggest Ireland will approve the treaty, which is intended to speed up decision-making in the 27-member union, but a significant proportion of the electorate is undecided and officials are worried the government’s deep unpopularity will generate a large protest vote.

In an interview with Reuters Friday, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the vote was too early to call.

Barroso said a No vote next month would create uncertainty about Ireland’s place in Europe, further damaging its already battered economy.

“Honestly, there are some doubts now about the future situation of Ireland. Some people have asked me: Is Ireland going to leave the EU? For investor confidence, it is important that there is certainty about the future of Ireland in EU,” he told The Irish Times.

Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a plebiscite last year amid confusion over what it meant, a lackluster official campaign and a fired-up No side which capitalized on both.

This time around Dublin is hoping concessions from Brussels, including the right to retain an Irish commissioner, will help them secure ratification, paving the way for the charter’s implementation across the bloc.

Reporting by Carmel Crimmins