Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Brian Lenihan hiding from political debate on Lisbon

28 May, 2008

Responding to a statement issued today by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan on the loss of Ireland's veto on international trade agreements Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Minister of hiding behind the EU Commission who themselves are being economical with the truth on this critical element of the Lisbon Treaty.

The Dublin MEP said:

"Despite today's foot stomping by the Minister the fact remains that the EU Commission's statement regarding Ireland's loss of its veto on international trade agreements is economical with the truth. I challenge the Minister to deal with the factual concerns Sinn Féin have raised during the campaign. Surely the Irish government can argue and evidence this element of the Lisbon Treaty themselves. Why hide behind the Commission?

"We in Sinn Féin stand over our 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.

"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.

"It is telling that yet again a government Minister is now issuing statements devoid of reference to the Treaty text and factual argument. Hiding behind EU institutions is no substitute for political debate.

"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 the best course of action is to vote no if you want to keep the veto." ENDS

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