Lisbon deal taking shape
Mr Cowen didn't use the word "referendum". But the Irish prime minister has told his fellow leaders that his government "is committed to seeking ratification of the Lisbon Treaty" by the end of next October.
In return the EU will deal with what the Irish government claims are the "concerns" of the Irish people and give "the necessary legal guarantees". They will ensure that the Lisbon Treaty doesn't affect:
Ireland's traditional neutrality;
Ireland's laws on the family and abortion;
The taxation system.
If Lisbon comes into effect the leaders would then use the vote to make sure the commission "includes one national of each member state". The plan to slim down the commission would be abandoned.
The UK wants more legal advice about the nature of what is being promised, so no one can argue the treaty is now substantially different and needs to go back to the British Parliament... or British people.