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EU Commission Presidency clouding the serious issues of an EU Constitution

17 June, 2004

Sinn MEP for the Dublin constituency Mary Lou McDonald has today said that horse-trading over the appointment of a new EU Commission President, is diverting attention away from serious negotiations surrounding the signing off on an EU Constitution. Ms McDonald said that 'the Irish Presidency is obsessed with concluding a constitution, even if that meant a flawed constitution'.

Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:

"People should not allow themselves to be diverted away from the fact that EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today to finalise agreement on the draft EU Constitution. Much of the focus thus far, has been on who will take over as Commission President, yet fundamental and far reaching decisions will be made today, and in the short weeks ahead to agree a legally binding constitution for the EU.

"This is not a Charter for an EU of Equals. It does not redress the democratic deficit as we were promised it would. Regardless of what Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell has said in his election literature, it does not afford special recognition to the neutral states, nor protection for Irish neutrality. There is a lot wrong with this draft Constitution.

"The Government has failed to engage the Irish people in an informed discussion around it. The potential international prestige value of leading successful negotiations has eclipsed any sense on the Government's part that the Irish delegates are responsible to look out for and advance Irish interests during the negotiations process. What has the Government achieved for Ireland in the negotiations? What have they given away in the interests of not upsetting the more powerful states? These are the real relevant questions that we need to ask and to which we should demand answers from Bertie and his team."ENDS

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