Treaty of Nice:Vote to Open the Door For Exports
The Treaty of Nice is about preparing the European Union for enlargement. Ireland has benefited enormously from membership of the Union. It now has 15 member States. It will soon have 27. The 12 new countries, Poland, the Czech Republic and others, have escaped soviet totalitarianism and tomorrow you have the opportunity to copper-fasten their return to freedom by voting ‘Yes' for the Treaty.
A ‘Yes' vote is a vote for jobs and investment. In Ireland we export over 85% of what we produce here. Over 90% of our agricultural produce is exported. We are already the main beneficiary of Europe's internal market which has got rid of red tape on exports to the other 14 member States. The European market remained firmly open for business during the foot and mouth crisis when others did not. There are 370 million consumers in the Euro market. A ‘Yes' tomorrow will open the door to another 100 million consumers of our exports. We will be sending a clear signal to the new countries that we mean to do business with them. New members mean new markets. A ‘no' vote would be a disaster for Ireland, for Irish exports, for Irish industry and for Irish influence in Europe. We would never have forgiven France or Germany if they had voted against our entry in 1972.
The deal secured at Nice ensures that Ireland will still punch above its weight and remain at the heart of decision-making in Brussels. The big States lose their second Commissioner and their say in the process will drop from 11% each to just 8%. Our voice will more than twice what it should be on a population basis. Our veto on taxation remains.
Tomorrow's vote is about bringing new members into the European Union and thus getting rid of the unstable, two-tier Europe we inherited from the second world war. It is about conflict prevention and poses no threat to our neutrality. It is not a vote for NATO. Our involvement in the Rapid Reaction Force stems from the Treaty of Amsterdam which was approved in a referendum in 1998. It's role is limited by law to peace-keeping. Ireland cannot get involved in any missions without a UN mandate. Our procedures for contributing troops for EU peace-keeping are exactly the same as for UN peace-keeping.
The Treaty of Nice has the backing of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats, ICTU, the IFA, ICMSA, IBEC, the Catholic Bishops Conference and many more national and local groups, including the Irish Road Hauliers Association. The Treaty has absolutely nothing to do with abortion, divorce or euthanasia and everything to do with partnership and progress. Vote ‘Yes'.
Brian Cowen T.D.
Minister for Foreign Affairs
This article appeared in The Star on Wednesday, 6 June 2001Top