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Ireland loses significant strength under Lisbon - Doherty

28 May, 2008


Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty speaking during a debate with Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv today said, "The Lisbon treaty represents a significant loss of power for Ireland. In addition to losing a Commissioner for five out of every fifteen years, our voting strength at the Council of Ministers is significantly reduced. As the Council takes many of the key decisions, any reduction of voting strength is bad for Ireland."

Senator Doherty said, "The Lisbon Treaty represents a significant loss of power for Ireland. In addition to losing a Commissioner for five out of every fifteen years, our voting strength at the Council of Ministers is significantly reduced. As the Council takes many of the key decisions, any reduction of voting strength is bad for Ireland.

"No matter what spin Eamon Ó Cuiv puts on the new voting procedure and how it is calculated the simple fact is that it involves a reduction of Ireland's voting strength. And nobody can argue with any credibility that this would be a good thing.

"Most votes at the Council of Ministers are taken by qualified majority. Each country is given a weighted vote partly based on population size. At present Ireland has seven votes, while Germany, France and Britain have 29 votes each. A majority requires 255 votes, or 74% of the total. Ireland seven votes constitute 2.74% of this total.

"The Lisbon treaty proposes replacing this procedure with what is called a double majority. The new system would require 55% of member states (15) containing 65% of the EU's population to secure a qualified majority.

"This new system is bad for Ireland in two respects. Firstly it reduces the threshold for qualified majority decisions, making it easier for qualified majorities to be achieved. Secondly the weighting of each member state becomes more proportionate to population size, with Ireland having our voting strength halved by 50%, while large member states see their voting strength increase by more than 50%.

"In both cases this is bad for smaller member states such as Ireland, as our ability to block decisions that are not in our interests will be reduced, while the strength of larger states will be significantly increased.

"Fianna Fail are trying to cloud the issue by challenging the precise level of the reduction. What they cannot deny is that the proposed changes under the Lisbon Treaty reduce our voting strength. Taken in conjunction with the loss of a commissioner, this represents a significant loss for Ireland." ENDS

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