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Protocol on Member State Parliaments cosmetic window dressing – Ó Snodaigh

4 June, 2008

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin International Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD described the Protocol on Member State Parliaments contained in the Lisbon Treaty as nothing more than cosmetic window dressing designed to take the bad look off the treaty.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "At the outset of this debate I would put on record that while I am a member of the Committee on European Scrutiny I don't not agree with the conclusions of the report before the House today.

"The Lisbon Treaty, rather than address the democratic deficit, will actually widen it. The treaty removes Ireland's right to a permanent commissioner for five out of every fifteen years. This means that we will not have a representative on the body responsible for drafting and implementing laws. Ireland's representatives on the Commission have played a crucial role over the years. 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.

"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.

"In order to make this process of centralisation appear less dramatic the drafters of the Lisbon Treaty included a protocol on member state parliaments. Advocates of the treaty argue that this protocol will greatly increase the role of member state parliaments in the decision making process.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. When you cut through the rhetoric and examine the detail of what is proposed it is clear that the 'new powers' for member state parliaments are nothing more than cosmetic window dressing designed to take the bad look off the treaty.

"Under the yellow and orange card proposals contained in the protocol there is absolutely no obligation on the European Commission to do anything other than consider the objection raised. If it disagrees then it can carry on regardless and member state parliaments are powerless to do anything about it.

"The protocol on member state parliaments gives the EU nothing new or meaningful with which to address the democratic deficit and on that basis cannot form any part of a credible argument for supporting the Lisbon Treaty.

"I believe that a better deal is possible. All states should retain a permanent commissioner. Voting strength at Council should reflect the fact that states come to Council as equals. Member state parliaments and citizens must be given meaningful forms of participation in the legislative process, including in this state the absolute right for citizens to have the final say in any significant changes to EU treaties. And key strategic vetoes on public services and taxation should be strengthened.

"Irish people can secure a better deal if we vote no on June 12th and give the Irish government a strong mandate for new negotiations with our European partners." ENDS

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