A May 31 referendum here asks the public to approve an EU treaty that aims to control nations' annual deficits and longer-term debts. But critics say the treaty ignores the competing need to stimulate growth.
Ireland, once staunchly pro-EU but increasingly euroskeptical, is the only member of the bloc putting the agreement to a national vote.
Analysts of the 3-year-old eurozone crisis say an Irish rejection of the treaty, combined with Francois Hollande's victory as France's president and a hard-left turn in Greece's parliamentary elections, could force the continent to shift in favor of less cutting and greater investment in growth.
And they agree that, even if the fiscal treaty is ratified by the minimum 12 nations required, it is likely to be an economic dead letter before it comes into force next year. Its key goal — to bind nations into tighter debt and deficit limits under the threat of EU fines — seems downright perverse in the face of widening recession.