Publication of a White Paper on the European Constitution
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., has announced the publication of a White Paper on the European Constitution.
The White Paper provides a clear and factual explanation of the various elements of the Constitution. It describes the lengthy process that led to agreement under the Irish Presidency in June 2004 and offers an insight into the Government's approach to the negotiations.
The White Paper's publication will facilitate enhanced public information and awareness with regard to EU issues. It is being widely distributed, including to public representatives, schools, libraries and a variety of NGOs. Copies of the White Paper are available free of charge from the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is published in both Irish and English, and can also be accessed on line at www.europeanconstitution.ie.
Commenting on the White Paper's publication, Minister Ahern said:
“This White Paper on the European Constitution is being published as part of the period of reflection and national debate initiated by the European Council in June. Debate on the future of Europe is taking place across the EU in the wake of the referendum results in France and the Netherlands.
At this time, it is especially important that our people are properly informed on European issues and that we seek to build on the excellent work that continues to be done by the National Forum on Europe. The European Union is crucial to our national wellbeing and to our place in the world. It provides the framework within which we pursue our national goals. Ireland's future is inextricably linked with the future of Europe”.
Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr. Noel Treacy T.D., also commented on the White Paper publication: “the European Constitution is an important document whose elements need to be better known. It represents a careful balance between the overlapping interests of the Member States, offering a vision of how the enlarged European Union of 25 or more States can deal with the challenges of the future. Ireland remains committed to the Constitution and its early entry into force. I sincerely hope that the current debate on the future of Europe will clear the way for the Constitution's successful ratification.”
Note for Editors
Agreement on the European Constitution was reached in June 2004 under the chairmanship of the Taoiseach during Ireland's EU Presidency. It was signed by all Member States in Rome in October 2004. The Constitution has been ratified by thirteen Member States, two by referendum and the other eleven by Parliamentary procedure. The negative referendum results in France and in the Netherlands effectively put the ratification process on hold. In June, the European Council initiated a period of reflection to allow for a broad debate to take place in each Member State involving citizens, civil society, social partners, national parliaments and political parties. The Heads of State and Government are to take stock of the situation during the Austrian Presidency in the first half of next year.
The White Paper, written within the Department of Foreign Affairs with input from other Departments as required, was originally prepared for publication in June. Its publication was delayed because of the uncertainties created by the No votes in France and the Netherlands. It is being made available as a contribution to public information as part of the current Europe-wide debate about the future of the European Union.
The Government remains committed to the European Constitution on the grounds that it is good for Europe and good for Ireland. The Constitution is the product of a negotiating process that was unprecedented in its openness and scope, first at the European Convention and then at the Intergovernmental Conference. The Government looks forward to the Constitution's ratification and entry into force. Until the position is clarified at the European level, it is not intended to set a date for a referendum in Ireland. A similar approach has been adopted in those other Member States which plan to ratify the Constitution by referendum.
13 October 2005