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Europe Day should prompt serious debate on direction of EU - Mary Lou McDonald

8 May, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the Irish Government has a "responsibility to promote a widespread debate on the direction of the EU and Ireland's place within it". Ms McDonald made her comments on the eve of 'Europe Day' which takes place tomorrow, May 9th.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Europe Day is being organised by the Irish government in order to promote and celebrate the concept of a European community. However, they would be better served in promoting a real debate about the present and future of the EU.

"Over the past number of years a number of fundamental changes to the role of the EU institutions have occurred and the influence they have over member states has substantially increased. Within the same period, the euro has been established as the single currency covering most of the continent; and the drive towards a single EU Constitution, taking precedence over member-state constitutions has begun in earnest.

"As the influence and expansion of the EU‚s powers have increased, so have the levels of disconnection between the EU institutions and citizens. Ironically, findings released recently indicate that 2005 will go down as a year of record citizens‚ complaints against the EU and its institutions. The EU remains elitist, largely unaccountable and lacks transparency, yet it exerts huge power and control over all our lives.

"Sinn Féin has consistently challenged this culture of unaccountability, lack of transparency and the wider issue of the democratic deficit in the EU. We need a bottom-up participative approach that begins to reconnect people with politicians and the political institutions in a real and meaningful way. To this end, the Irish Government has a crucial responsibility in promoting a widespread debate on the direction of the EU and Ireland‚s connection with it.

"Sinn Féin believes that Europe Day should be about promoting an open and honest debate about the EU's future, not a bland public relations exercise. For our part we believe in a different type of Europe to that promoted by the government - one which promotes public services, social protections, national sovereignty and the environment." ENDS

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