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European Commission Economical With Truth on International Trade Veto

26 May, 2008

Responding to a statement by the European Commission office in Dublin on the question of international trade agreements Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has accused the Commission of being "economical with the truth".

Speaking today the Kerry TD said:

"More than a week ago the European Commission office in Dublin issued a statement saying that the Lisbon Treaty would not affect Ireland's ability to veto future WTO trade agreements. Sinn Féin called on the Commission to substantiate their position and submitted a series of detailed questions. One week later the Commission released their response but avoided directly answering the question. They have still to respond to Sinn Féin's detailed questions. A close examination of their statement clearly demonstrates that they are being economical with the truth.

"Sinn Féin stands over its argument that the Lisbon Treaty removes Ireland's ability to veto the kind of international trade agreement currently being negotiated by Pater Mandelson at the WTO. Article 188 removes the general veto on services such as health, education and social services. It is replaced with a restricted veto, which could only be applied if this state could prove that the inclusion of such services risked "seriously disturbing the national organisation of such services." Such a restricted veto could not be used to block the current WTO trade deal.

"The Commission's claim that aspects of intellectual property, investment and transport could be used to veto the WTO deal are highly dubious. Article 97a of the Lisbon Treaty removes the existing veto with respect to Intellectual Property. Transport and investment are overwhelmingly governed by qualified majority voting under the existing treaties (Articles 57 & 70 TEEC).

"The most telling aspect of the Commission statement is the highly conditional nature of their assertions. Phrases such as "not necessarily" "are often" "will often" and "at least in part" demonstrate that the Commission cannot or will not provide a definitive answer to the question of the veto. This is all the more surprising when one considers that the Commission knows exactly what is being negotiated in Geneva and on what basis a veto could be used.

"Sinn Féin remains convinced that the veto which could be used today to block a bad WTO deal will be gone if we ratify the Lisbon Treaty. On that basis if you want to keep the veto the best course of action is to vote no." ENDS

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