Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Loss of political strength will put Ireland at a serious disadvantage within Europe

29 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Louth TD Arthur Morgan said that the Lisbon Treaty will involve a serious loss of power for Ireland. He said "No matter how the government tries to spin it the loss of a permanent Commissioner and a 50% reduction in our voting strength will put Ireland at a serious disadvantage within Europe."

Deputy Morgan said:

"The Lisbon Treaty significantly undermines the role of smaller states within the EU's decision-making process. The Government is being totally disingenuous in relation to the implications of the loss of a permanent Irish Commissioner for five out of ever fifteen years from 2014. No matter how they try to spin it the loss of a permanent Commission will put Ireland at a serious disadvantage within Europe.

"For a small country like Ireland it is vital to have a permanent voice at the European Commission table especially when you consider that this country only has a small number of MEPS and our voting strength on the Council of Ministers will be halved if Lisbon is passed.

"While the larger states will not have a permanent seat on the Commission, Britain, Germany and Italy almost double their voting strength on the Council of Ministers and have far more MEPs than Ireland. The Commission is the one place where each country regardless of size has an equal say.
"And no matter how good a relationship the Irish government builds with EU Commissioners from other states it is no substitute for an Irish voice at the table.

"We are told that despite these changes, proposals with respect to citizens and parliaments in member states, as well as increased powers to the European parliament, will make the EU more democratic.

"This is not the case. The proposed measures are minimalist. Member states will be given an extra two weeks to scrutinise proposals coming from the Commission and if a third of member states believe the proposal breaches the principle of subsidiarity they can object. Of course the Commission is not obliged to do anything other than "consider" the objection. The orange card is an even less effective tool, as its application requires the support of half the member state parliaments and either the European Parliament or Council.

"The citizens' initiative is similarly weak. While as a lobbying tool it has merit, and is already being used, once again there would be no obligation on the Commission to do anything other than "consider" any proposal.

"On balance, when you weigh up the increased centralisation of powers, the self amending articles, the loss of influence of smaller member states and the weak measures offered to member state parliaments and citizens, there is no doubt that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal both for Irish and EU democracy, and if ratified will deepen the existing democratic deficit." ENDS

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