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Referendum Commission Confirms Sinn Féin Position on Trade Veto

4 June, 2008

Speaking after the Referendum Commission Clarification statement today Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Martin Ferris TD said that "The Referendum Commission clarification confirms Sinn Féin's position on loss of veto on international trade agreements."


Deputy Ferris said, “Sinn Féin has argued that the Lisbon Treaty effectively removes Ireland's ability to veto the kind of international trade deal currently being negotiated by Peter Mandelson.


“At present member states have a general veto if such agreements include aspects of services, such as health, education and social services. There are also vetoes in relation to intellectual property.


“Article 188 and Article 97 of the Lisbon Treaty change these vetoes.  They are either removed completely or restricted to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine a set of circumstances in which they could be used.


“Equally issues such as foreign investment and services are in the overwhelming number of cases governed by qualified majority voting under the current rules.


“Sinn Féin has repeatedly sought clarification on this matter from the European Commission, to no avail. Today’s statement by the Referendum Commission confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying all along -  the veto which currently exists will effectively be gone if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.


“Assurances from Brian Cowen on the use of Ireland’s veto on international trade agreements not in Ireland’s interests are simply not worth the paper they are written on. The Irish government cannot commit to using a veto if in fact that veto does not exist.


“I put it to Brian Cowen that the reason the government has spent month’s hand wringing on this issue and has made his commitment to the IFA at the eleventh hour is because he knows that the treaty text does not support his claim on the veto.


“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 Peter 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 and conditional veto could not be used to block the current WTO trade deal.” ENDS

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