Thursday, 6 December 2007

France's Moscovici, Holland's Timmermans and Ireland's McCreevy call on the Irish to vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty in their referendum

Dear Friends,

Fance’s Pierre Moscovici, the Netherlands’ Frans Timmermans and Ireland’s EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy were urging a Yes vote in next year’s Irish referendum on the upcoming Lisbon Treaty in Dublin yesterday.

You might find some of their remarks of interest. Note in particular Commissioner McCreevy’s stricture against exercising “self-government”!
On Page 5 of today’s Irish Times, the principal Irish “quality” newspaper, is a piece by the paper’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Mary Fitzgerald, under the heading “Yes vote for EU treaty in ‘Irish interests’”

This reads as follows:

“An Irish vote in favour of the EU reform treaty is important for Europe and for Irish interests, the Dutch minister of European affairs said in Dublin yesterday,

Frans Timmermans said it would be “a setback for Europe” if the Republic were to reject the treaty in next year’s referendum. . .

“Ireland is seen by everyone as a huge success story of European integration. People would expect Irish voters to be positive about Europe and therefore say yes in a referendum, which will reinforce Ireland’s position, Mr Timmermans said following a conference at the Institute of European Affairs.

The minister said it was time for the EU to leave institutional squabbles on decision-making behind. “To be able to put an end to the endless discussions on the rules of the game will put us in a better position to play the game, and then Ireland will profit enormously”, he said.

“For instance, if Europe is to play a leadership role in climate change and energy policies we need a performing Europe for that, and to do that we need this treaty.”

Mr Timmermans was joined by Pierre Moscoivici, former French minister for European affairs. Both outlined the reasons why France and the Netherlands rejected the reform treaty’s forerunner in referendums held in 2005.

Mr Moscivici said the French referendum had been a “terrible experience” and France was “tremendously weakened” in Europe after it rejected the treaty.

He added: “A No (vote) is never a decision that makes you stronger.”

Mr Moscovici praised French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision not to have a referendum this time round as “wise” because France “would have had a similar referendum and perhaps a similar result.”

Mr Timmermans said the treaty should be presented in a clear and coherent manner in the run-up to the Republic’s referendum.

“I think it is very important not to confuse peple with mixed or difficult messages but simply concentrate on the main issues at hand and clearly underline why this is an important treaty that is in Ireland’s interest.”

The Republic will have a “special responsibility” because of its referendum, said Mr Moscovici, who recommended that voters are fully informed of the issues surrounding the treaty.

“The yes (vote? will win in Ireland if the people feel involved and know not just what Europe brought them in the past but what it will bring them in the future,” he added.

On the same page is another article by Irish Times political correspondent Mark Hennessy under the heading “Rejecting EU treaty wil make us a joke – McCreevy”.

This reads as follows:

Ireland will “be the laughing stock of Europe” if its citizens reject next year’s European Union treaty referendum, Ireland’s EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has said.

The Irish public will be defying their common sense if they vote against the treaty, he told the Association of European Journalists. However, he acknowledged that the yes campaign could face its toughest-ever battle. given the state of public opinion revealed by the most recent Irish Times/ TNS mrbi poll.

This showed that just 25 per cent of those polled are minded to vote Yes, while 12 percent say they intend to vote No. Nearly two-thirds are in the don’t know category.

The Yes vote, said Mr McCreevy, Commissioner for the Internal Market, has always been substantially higher before past campaigns got into full swing.

“The referendum is not a time for self-government, for putting the two fingers up at a member state government or at the EU institutions towards which people may well have some heartfelt grievances.

“This is the time to recognise that a strong and efficient Europe interacting wirth the rest of the world from a position of strength is the only kind of Europe in which Ireland and its citizens can prosper,” he told journalists.

If the treaty is passed by all 27 countries, Mr McCreevy said, the EU should refrain from any further institutional changes for “quite some time to come”.

“I think we should stop to pause; to deepen rather than to extend; to reinforce what we have and to implement what we have, and that we will have a good period of time before there is further advancement. We should stop and think,” he said.

However, he conceded that the more ambitious in the EU may want further expansion “within five years” if this treaty is ratified by all member states.

The changes in the treaty are necessary, he said, if the EU is to face the global challenges of migration, global warming, terrorism and drugs.

“The EU has achieved success in the past by using previously agreed treaties to alter the union’s decision-making rules,” he declared. . .

“When the 12 new states were joining all of their civil servants came to Ireland because we were regarded as the best utiliser of EU funds. There are hundreds of firms using Ireland as their entrée to the rest of the free market.

“We have been enormous beneficiaries of a common market. It would defy common sense for the Irish people to vote anything but Yes,” he said.

It would be useful if people in France and Holland were to send letters to the Irish Times giving their views on the statements of Messrs Timmermans and Moscovici yesterday. Or if people preferred, letters of support could be sent at a later date nearer the Irish referendum, which will probably be held in May next. For those who might be interested, the Irish Times’s address is The Irish Times, Tara Street, Dublin 2 Ireland, and its e-mail address for letters is (There should be No attachments, and a phone number and address should be provided for personal contact.)

Newspaper letters from abroad in support of the Irish people, appealing to them to show solidarity with the French and Dutch No voters wbo rejected the EU Constitution in their 2005 referendums and urging them not to act as a rubber-stamp for the EU elites who are denying their own peoples referendums on this Renamed EU Constitutional Treaty would be useful in the course of the Irish referendum, between now and next May.

The principal Irish dailies are the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner. The principal Irish Sunday newspapers are the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Business Post, the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday World. There are also some 40 provincial newspapers that come out weekly.

Details of the Irish newspapers, their addresses, circulation etc. may be got on the following web-site:

Yours faithfully,
Anthony Coughlan
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792