EU to Keep Reform Treaty Alive

LUXEMBOURG -- European Union foreign ministers said Monday that they would keep the EU reform treaty alive despite Ireland's "No" vote, but conceded that they had no quick fixes for rescuing it.

Their monthly meeting in Luxembourg was a first opportunity for EU officials to start picking up the pieces after Thursday's Irish referendum cast doubt over the survival of a pact meant to bolster the EU's economic and political weight in the world.

EU leaders will want to hear from Prime Minister Brian Cowen at a summit in Brussels later this week whether he sees any hope of winning a new referendum, a step Irish officials have not ruled out but which they believe is a high-risk strategy.

France led nations arguing that the EU had damaged its cause by failing to respond to public anger over rising food and fuel prices, with some fearing the bloc's image would suffer a further blow if the summit did not look at the issue.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin insisted that it was "far too early" for proposals on salvaging a treaty which will now not come into force on Jan. 1 as planned.

"The people's decision has to be respected and we have to chart a way through. There are no quick fix solutions," he said.

For the moment, Dublin's 26 partners are not taking "No" for an answer. All except the Czechs say ratification should continue elsewhere in the bloc.