Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD said there is huge concern that the Austerity Treaty would give the European Commission new powers to force Ireland into an “economic partnership programme” which would allow the commission to dictate what is included in future budgets.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The first week of the referendum campaign has been dominated by the economics of the Austerity Treaty. However there is more to the Treaty than the additional austerity that we would have to endure after 2015 if we sign up to it. There are key questions in terms of loss of economic sovereignty.
“It is about time that the government, and in particular the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, came clean about the consequences of handing away such power to the European Commission and European Court of Justice - what will it mean for taxation policy, for the ownership of state assets, for the delivery of public services, for the household budgets of hundreds of thousands of people across the country?
“It is shocking that any state would voluntarily sign up to the loss of economic sovereignty and many people are asking have they even thought through the consequences of their actions.
“Articles 5 through to 8 deal with the enforcement of the Treaty’s draconian deficit and debt rules and the punishments that can be meted out to any state deemed to be in breach of the rules.
“Article 5 places a legal obligation on member states, who are deemed to be in breach of the deficit rules, to enter a programme of so called structural reform. The content of that programme, deceptively called an economic partnership, will be determined by the European Commission. The programme will be detailed, and in effect will look very much like the detail of the current Troika memorandum of understanding.
“The programme will be backed up with the possibility of legal action whereby one Member State acting at the request of the European Commission can take another Member State to the ECJ. The punishment will take the form of a fine of up to 0.1% of GDP which on the basis of 2011 figures would be in the region of €160 million.
“Taken together these articles will significantly undermine the control that future Governments will have over budgetary and fiscal matters. The excessive deficit procedure will become automatic requiring a qualified majority to block it; the Commission will have extensive scope to impose detailed policy prescriptions on Member States; and the ECJ will act at the enforcement mechanism.
“The Government, and in particular the Minister of Finance Michael Noonan needs to clearly spell out the consequences of these articles.
“The Austerity Treaty means more power for the European Court of Justice and European Commission. It means less power for the Oireachtas and the citizens to control our own economic affairs. On May 31st we have an opportunity to defend the right of citizens to decide our own future by voting No to the Austerity Treaty.”