Taoiseach condemns scare tactics on Nice
The Treaty of Nice represents no threat whatever to fundamental Irish interests. If it did, I wouldnt have agreed to it the Taoiseach Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., said today.
On the provisions in the Treaty on Enhanced Cooperation, the Taoiseach said, there are people on the No side who are deliberately mis-representing what is involved and who are suggesting that somehow Nice will result in the big states rushing ahead and leaving the smaller ones behind. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In a Union of twenty-seven members, some flexibility makes sense once the proper protections are in place. The Treaty of Nice ensures the most stringent safeguards are there to protect the interests of the EU and of all Member States big and small.
Enhanced cooperation can only be used as a last resort. It cannot be used in any circumstances for security or defence issues. It cannot undermine the internal market or distort competition.
For a project to get off the ground in the first place, it must be endorsed by the Council of Ministers, in a vote which requires over 71% of votes cast and the support of Ministers representing at least 62% of the population this sets a very high threshold.
At least 8 Member States must take part in the group. All Member States are entitled to join, either at the start of a project or at any time afterwards. There can be no question of leaving anyone behind.
There is no reason to believe that a big/small divide would emerge. Ireland has often formed alliances with larger Member States on vital issues. For example, France is a key ally on the CAP.
I am totally mystified as to how anyone could genuinely believe these arrangements could result in a two-tier Europe. It simply isnt possible. the Taoiseach stated.