Friday, 14 April 2006

1916 and the EU: A Question To Ponder on the 90th Anniversary

“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible”
- 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic

QUESTION: Is the right of the Irish people “to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies”, proclaimed in 1916, compatible with having two-thirds of the laws we must obey enacted by the EU in Brussels, in making which the Irish people have a very minor say?

The German Federal Ministry for Justice has stated in answer to a parliamentary written question that between 1998 and 2004, 23,167 legal acts were adopted in Germany, of which 18,917, or 80%, were of EU origin (See the German and English texts of this question and answer below). Presumably Ireland, being a unitary rather than a Federal State like Germany, would have a higher proportion of domestic national laws enacted centrally; so it seems plausible to assume that the EU makes two-thirds or so of our laws rather than the 80% in Germany. The Taoiseach or Minister for Foreign Affairs might usefully be urged to give the public the exact figure for the Irish State, as the German Government has done.

Having to obey laws made mostly by others means being ruled by others. It is the opposite of a country being independent, sovereign and democratic. What role do the Irish State and Irish people have in making EU laws? We have one member out of 25 on the EU Commission, the body of nominated, non-elected officials which has the legal monopoly of proposing all EU laws. That is 4% influence. We also have one Minister out of 25 on the EU Council of Minsters, which makes EU laws on the basis of the Commission’s proposals. That is again 4% influence there. In practice most EU laws are adopted nowadays by qualified majority vote on the Council of Ministers, where Ireland has 7 votes out of 345, that is 2% of a say, and in which it may be outvoted on most matters.

The European Parliament may propose amendments to draft laws of the EU Council of Ministers, but it cannot have these amendments adopted without the agreement of the Council and Commission, and it cannot itself initiate any EU law. The Irish State has 13 members out of 732 in the European Parliament, that is 2% of a say, and the North has 3 MEPs.

Yet when the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom between 1800 and 1921,it had 100 MPs out of 600 in the British Parliament, of which some 70 were Nationalists. That gave Nationalist Ireland 12% of a say at Westminster; yet the Irish people were unhappy with majority rule from London then and aspired to a Parliament of their own in an independent Irish Republic.

As for “the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland”, how can Irish politicians pretend to exercise that right when under EU law it is illegal for an Irish Government to adopt any measure that would prevent the 450 million citizens of the other EU States from having the same rights of ownership and establishment in this country as Irish citizens, in relation to land-buying, fisheries, residence, employment or the conduct of any economic activity?

In addition to being subject to laws made overwhelmingly by non-Irish people in Brussels, the Irish Government is regularly fined for breaking EU laws by the EU Court of Justice – something no sovereign State anywhere in the world is subject to. How is that compatible with “the unfettered control of Irish destinies”?

As well, EU membership means that Member States lose their right to sign trade treaties with other States, as this is done by the Brussels Commission acting for the EU as a whole. It means that the Member States are legally obliged to work towards a common foreign and security policy and common rules in crime and justice matters. Last September a judgement of the EU Court of Justice laid down that the EU can adopt supranational criminal sanctions such as fines, imprisonment or confiscation of assets for breaches of EU law by means of majority vote. This means that Ireland and its citizens may be subjected in future to such criminal sanctions even if they had voted against them, and for matters they do not necessarily regard as crimes.

Before Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, Article 15 of the Irish Constitution stated that “the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State.” The Irish State was constitutionally sovereign then in a way that it clearly is no longer.

As a member of the Eurozone Dublin has no control of either the rate of interest or its currency exchange rate, which are classical economic tools of all independent governments that seek to advance their people’s welfare. As regards interest rates and the exchange rate we have to abide by policies decided by the EU Central Bank in Frankfort,Germany, whose priority necessarily must be the economic needs of the more populous EU countries.

All this is clearly incompatible with “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies”, proclaimed in the Declaration of the Republic in Easter 1916. Yet the Taoiseach and leaders of Fianna Fail who have put us under European Union rule and who desire to give the EU more power still by ratifying the proposed EU Constitution, proclaim themselves to belong to “The Republican Party”.

On Easter Sunday next they will perpetrate the hypocrisy of professing to honour the men and women of 1916 against the background of these facts which make a mockery of their professions. And they will be supported in that by the leaders of the other major Dail Parties, who glory in their servitude to EU rule and who equally support the discredited EU Constitution that was rejected by the peoples of France and the Netherlands in their referendums last summer.

By Anthony Coughlan
Secretary of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Ave., Dublin 9, Ireland; Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792


Abgeordneter: Johannes Singhammer (CDU/CSU)

Wie viele Rechtsvorschriften mit Wirkung für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland wurden in den Jahren 1998 bis 2004 auf der europäischen Ebene und auf der nationalen Ebene neu beschlossen?

Antwort des Parlamentarischen Staatssekretärs Alfred Hartenbach Vom 29. April 2005

In den Jahren 1998 bis 2004 wurden insgesamt 18,167 EU-Verordnungen und 750 EU-Richtlinen (einschließlich Änderungsverordnungen bza.-richtlinien) erlassen.

Im selben Zeitraum wurden auf Bundesebene insgesamt 1195 Gesetze (davon 889 im BGB1.Teil I und 306 im BGB1. Teil II) sowie 3055 Rechtsverordnungen (einschließlich Änderungsgesetzen bzw.-verordnungen) verkündet.


To ask the Minister what proportion of the legal acts passed in Germany between 1 May 1998 and 1 May 2004 had their origin in European Union regulations or directives and how many were were solely national in origin.

On 29 April 2005, the German Federal Justice Ministry replied that between 1998 and 2004, 23,167 legal acts were adopted in Germany, of which 18,917, or 80%, were of EU origin.