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Ó Snodaigh accuses larger EU member states of attempted power grab

22 September, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh has today said that “the Lisbon Treaty, if ratified, will significantly weaken Ireland’s voice in Europe. No amount of scare mongering changes the fact that if Lisbon goes through Ireland will have far less power than we have today. The changes in Lisbon are a big deal. They are not irrelevant as the yes side tries to claim. In effect they amount to a power grab by the bigger countries. They will gain at the expense of smaller member states. That is why they are so determined to try and force it through. Now more than ever it is vital to protect national interests and to maintain our strength at the heart of Europe.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “Ireland’s place is at the heart of Europe. Sinn Féin wants to see Ireland play a strong and positive role in shaping the future of there European Union. Unfortunately the Lisbon Treaty significantly weakens Ireland’s voice within the EU institutions. In effect it will push Ireland to the sidelines of Europe. Now more than ever it is vital to protect national interests and to maintain our position at the heart of Europe. No amount of scare mongering changes the fact that if Lisbon goes through we will have far less power in Europe than we have today.

“Article 9C proposes to change the way in which Qualified Majority votes are conducted at the Council of Ministers. If ratified Ireland’s voting strength at the Council will reduce from 2% to 0.8% while that of larger states such as Britain and Germany will increase by more than 50% to 12% and 17% respectively. The Council is meant to be where states are represented as equals, yet once again changes to Qualified Majority Voting procedures will disadvantage smaller states and benefit larger states.

“Article 9D proposed a reduction in the size of the Commission, which when implemented will see Ireland and all other member states lose their Commissioner for five out of every fifteen years. This means that there would be no Irish voice at the table when laws are being initiated and written. As long as this provision remains in the Treaty no one can guarantee that Ireland will retain our permanent Commissioner. Anyone saying otherwise is telling lies.

“It is also important to note that claims by supporters of Lisbon that voting No will result in the loss of a Commissioner are entirely false. While the Nice treaty does state that when the EU reaches 27 member states the Commission must be reduced in size, it also states that this can only happen with the unanimous agreement of the Council. This means that Ireland can only lose our Commissioner under Nice if the Irish government agrees to it.

“The Lisbon Treaty also removes a significant number of member state vetoes on highly sensitive policy areas such as international trade in Article 188C and on the application of the rules of competition and restrictions on state aid to the provision of services, including public services in Article 16.

“Most importantly Article 48 introduces what is called the ‘simplified revision procedure’ which would remove our automatic right to a referendum when future changes are being made to Treaties. It would allow the Council of Ministers to make significant changes to the policies and procedures of the European Union. While matters such as defence would still be subject to referenda, changes in areas of internal market rules or to the procedures of the EU would not.

“Sinn Féin believes that, as with the Irish Constitution, the only people who should have the right to alter EU Treaty law are the people, no matter what the changes are.

“As a consequence of all of these changes, the voice of both the Irish state and the people would be significantly weakened if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. On October 2nd Sinn Féin is urging voters to stand up for Ireland and reject the Lisbon Treaty.” ENDS

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