Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D., on the publication of the European Commission Public Opinion Survey
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, commenting on the publication of the European Commission's Public Opinion Survey on the Treaty of Nice referendum, said,
"The European Commission is to be congratulated on this thorough and fascinating survey. Its findings, in regard both to the referendum itself and to general Irish attitudes to the EU, will repay careful analysis and reflection over the period ahead. It is immediately clear from the survey, however, as it was from the low turnout in the referendum itself, that, collectively, all of us concerned with EU issues - no matter what our views are - have not succeeded in engaging and energising the public.
There are lessons to be drawn from this for Ireland and for the European Union itself. It is imperative that the national debate on Europe which has now been launched through the Forum be as wide-ranging as possible. There is a need to inform the Irish people of just how important Europe has been and will be for us as a nation, and to make clear that the choices to be made about the future development of the EU are also choices about Ireland's future.
At the European level, too, the overwhelming need is for the Union to reconnect with its people, to explain what it is doing and why it is now even more important and necessary than ever before. The Taoiseach and I have been emphasising that message since the June referendum and it needs to be a central theme of the forthcoming Future of Europe debate.
The Government remains deeply committed to the achievement of enlargement on schedule." Top