Some 25 EU nations have agreed upon a fiscal deal to bolster the euro by toughening the bloc’s budgetary rules.
The UK and the Czech Republic are the only two members that will not sign up to the German-inspired pact.
Under the compact, signatories are committed to bringing into legislation what European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has referred to as a “debt brake” or “golden rule”.
New voting rules and an automatic correction mechanism will enforce compliance more effectively. All member states except the UK and Czech Republic are to sign the deal at a meeting in March.
The treaty will come into effect once 12 members have ratified it.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted the Government is not afraid to hold a referendum on the deal.
Mr Kenny made his comments as he and other European leaders have gathered for the summit.
“The Government has absolutely no fear of a referendum,” said Mr Kenny.
Mr Kenny said when finalised, the text would go before Ireland’s Attorney General Máire Whelan, who will determine whether a referendum will be required.
“When the text is finalised I will ask the Attorney General to present the Government with the Attorney General’s response as to whether the agreed text as finalised by the politicians is in compliance with our constitution,” he said.
“If it is in compliance, then there is no need for a referendum.”
Mr Kenny’s Fine Gael colleague Leo Varadkar sparked controversy over the weekend when he said he had concerns for a possible referendum.
The Transport Minister said he was not a fan of the system – which gives the public a say on significant political issues – saying he believed it to be undemocratic.
“I don’t think referendums are very democratic,” Mr Varadkar told RTÉ.
“By and large, referendum campaigns are never about what they are supposed to be about.”
He said the main issues behind referendums get clouded by domestic political point scoring.
A new Red C Survey for the Sunday Business Post showed that 72 per cent of the population is in favour of holding a referendum.
Some 40 per cent said they would vote in favour of the fiscal compact, 36 per cent said they would vote no and the rest were unsure.
With Staff Writer