EU needs to begin representing interest of citizens – Carthy
“The European Commission is eager to push ahead with increased EU federalism and reduced democratic accountability, and Mr Juncker’s address is likely to ignore to the massive political upheavals that have led to Brexit and the rise of dangerous far-right parties across Europe.
“The last year has seen the European Commission announce plans for a Multilateral Investment Court, a new European Defence Fund and approved a number of dangerous competition mergers and taxpayer-funded bailouts.
“The European Commission repeatedly states that it is working for EU citizens, but in Ireland’s case, a series of ‘citizen's dialogues on the future of the EU’ amounted merely to Fine Gael love-ins, with the vast majority of Irish citizens completely unaware that such a consultation even existed.
“Despite a change of tone after Brexit, nothing has changed. Commissioners have all been asked to prepare ‘Future of the EU’ position papers on their respective policy areas. This has now been exposed as a charade that is all about steering the EU even further down the road of neo-liberal policies and away from a more social and democratic Europe.
“President Juncker will inevitably talk of growth restarting; the same ‘growth’ that saw massive cuts in spending causing 8,000 people to be homeless in Ireland last month.
“It is this same ‘growth’ that is resulting in cuts to vital transport links in rural areas and which is attempting to forcibly open up other public services such as An Post and water to private competition.
“The policies pursued by EU leaders will see huge increases in funding channelled into military and security programmes that result in deaths of refugees at sea.
“Meanwhile, some Irish political parties such as Fine Gael have stood by, cheerleading the EU’s move away from social initiatives in favour of dangerous trade deals negotiated behind closed doors, investment courts which threaten public services, increased liberalisation of the transport and energy sectors and a militarisation which directly threatens Ireland's neutrality.
“The impenetrable legislative process of many of the EU’s initiatives mean that many important decisions are still being taken without any democratic oversight whatsoever.
“The vast lobbying machine that has established itself in Brussels far outweighs the influence of tax justice NGOs, transparency watchdogs and citizen's groups.
“It is clear that the interests of those currently driving EU policy lie increasingly with large corporations and is dominated by larger states, particularly Germany.
“European Commission President Juncker's ‘State of the EU’ remarks will no doubt be replete with references about ‘better together’. However who are these rules actually better for?
“For our part, Sinn Féin want to see an EU that is guided by democratic principles and based on the premise that it is by member states working together as equals on matters of mutual interest that we can best serve all the citizens of the EU. As has been witnessed by our extensive efforts on Brexit, we believe that Ireland’s place is in the EU. However, that does not mean that we will not continue to expose the failures of the European institutions as they relate to Ireland.
“The EU needs to begin listening to its citizens and to reflect and uphold their interests as opposed to a corporate elite. It needs to move away from a bureaucratic web of legislation intended for the benefit of a few and towards a social Europe which reflects the interests of ordinary families.”