Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Forum on Europe booklet confirms WTO veto abolished by Lisbon Treaty

The Government’s claim that Ireland retains its right to veto future world trade deals under Lisbon is completely blown out of the water by the Forum on Europe’s official guide to the Treaty, Libertas Executive Director Naoise Nunn said today.

Mr. Nunn was speaking after this morning’s session of the Forum, which heard from Ruairi Quinn TD and Joe Higgins.

Mr. Nunn said that page 64 of the forum booklet made very clear that the veto was abolished, listing the “negotiation and conclusion of agreements with one or more third countries or international organisations in the field of commercial policy” as moving from unanimity to Qualified majority voting.

Mr. Nunn said that while a veto is retained in a number of small areas under article 188c, future WTO deals would not be amongst them. Mr. Nunn said that it was “barely conceivable” that the Irish Government had failed so badly in its negotiation of the Treaty:

“This issue has only come to light fairly recently, – buried as it is in the text of the Treaty, and going unmentioned in any literature or debate on the Treaty, and that is because very few people would have believed it to be true.

For several weeks, we have scoured the Treaty to find Ireland’s veto on the WTO talks, and it simply isn’t there, – it has been abolished. This means that Ireland, which does have a special interest in the area of WTO talks and in agriculture particularly, will lose its ability to block major deals that are harmful to us.

This fact is confirmed by the Forum on Europe’s own booklet on page 64.

The consequences of this veto being abolished are of the utmost importance to Ireland. We are left exposed, and without recourse in the event of a major unfriendly policy initative.

This mess is as a result of the spectacular failure by the Government to negotiate Lisbon correctly. There are holes and back doors in this document everywhere you look.

Why would we be surprised though, when we have a Taoiseach trying to sell us a document he hasn’t even read? A document that we won’t give to the people to read, but claims that he understands.

Once again, we see this referendum coming down to the issue of trust. On the WTO veto, there has now been a very clear breach of trust between the Government, and the farmers whose votes they seek.

Even before the issue of the WTO veto arose, this was a bad deal for Ireland, and a bad deal for Europe. It is now even more so.”

By Libertas
This article first appeared on Libertas