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Sinn Féin MEP calls upon Luxembourg Presidency to pursue "Social Europe"

12 January, 2005


Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has this morning called upon the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Union to "make a real difference to the lives of ordinary citizens".

Ms McDonald made her comments before the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker was due to set out the political programme of its Presidency later this morning in the European Parliament, Strasbourg. Luxembourg will hold the EU Presidency for 6 months.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is calling upon the Luxembourg Presidency to seize the opportunity to press for a progressive social justice agenda in the next six months, and to promote positive initiatives on socio-economic, political and human rights.

"During the Irish Presidency in 2004, an opportunity existed for the Irish Government to prioritise a Europe which protected its most vulnerable citizens, and in our view it failed. For too long, the EU has been obsessed with appeasing the agenda of big business and the larger, militarily superior states. Sinn Féin believes that a change of direction is required.

"In March 2005, the Luxembourg Presidency will conduct a mid-term review of the "Lisbon process" around its core priorities - economic, social and environmental. Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the social aspects of the agenda have been set aside in favour of exclusively promoting competitiveness and economic growth to the detriment of workers' rights. This must be the occasion to rebalance the Lisbon Strategy, placing greater emphasis on its social and environmental aspects. It is a scathing indictment of the Lisbon Agenda and the EU when more than 68 million people face poverty and social exclusion within its borders.

"Sinn Féin believes that the Luxembourg Presidency should promote a visible social inclusion strategy and prioritise initiatives which seek to promote social protections, including workers‚ rights. It should also reverse the trend toward increasing privatisation and move to secure the future of quality public services, particularly in relation to health and education services.

"Our party is happy to endorse the Social Platform Tests for the Luxembourg Presidency.

"I would also call upon the Luxembourg Presidency not to become a cheerleader for the EU Constitution in 2005. A number of referendums are due to held later in the year. They should remain impartial and allow the citizens to decide for themselves whether or not to ratify the EU Constitution.

"Along with my colleague Bairbre de Brún MEP, I look forward to working the Luxembourg Presidency in the coming months." ENDS

Note to editors: The Social Platform tests for the Luxembourg presidency is produced by a pan European platform of social NGOs. The tests can be found at www.socialplatform.org.

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