Treaty of Nice will give us all a brighter future
THE letter from Councillor Nicky Kehoe of Sinn Fein (Irish Examiner, May 4) contained a wholly inaccurate representation of the content of the Treaty of Nice.
Contrary to his claims, the Treaty is fundamentally about the enlargement of the Union, as can be seen from even a cursory examination of the Treaty, or the agenda for the intergovernmental conference which negotiated it.
The councillor refers to the Amsterdam Treaty, but fails to acknowledge that the Amsterdam Treaty explicitly provides for further treaty changes prior to enlargement. We are preparing for enlargement of up to 27 member states, well beyond the scale envisaged at Amsterdam.
The allegation that the Nice Treaty constitutes a sinister conspiracy to undermine the position of smaller states is utterly without foundation.
On the contrary, the Treaty provides a balanced and equitable basis for decision-making in an enlarged Union. For example, the position in regard to voting weights in the Council is that our share will decline from 3% in a Union of 15, to 2% in a Union of 27; in the case of Germany, the largest State, its share will decline from 11% to 8%. This also applies to Britain, France and Italy. Ireland's vote will be more than twice our share of the population and the same as Finland and Denmark.
In the case of the Commission, the four large States are giving up their second Commissioner from 2005, and thereafter all states, irrespective of size, will be treated on exactly the same basis.
If Councillor Kehoe, and Sinn Fein generally, had any engagement with Europe and could lift their gaze beyond these shores, they would see that the Treaty of Nice is welcomed by all member states and by all the candidate countries, as providing the basis for enlargement, while agreeing pragmatic and uncontroversial refinements of the Union's working methods.
Councillor Kehoe makes great play of the supposed militarisation of the EU. Aside from the absurdity of being lectured on militarisation by Sinn Féin, these allegations are without foundation. The bogey of an "imperialist army" is totally misleading. The Irish people, in supporting the Amsterdam Treaty, rightly approved the development of an EU capability to carry out humanitarian and crisis-management tasks.
Rejection of the Treaty means turning our backs on the people of the candidate countries. It is clearly in Ireland's interest to vote Yes to ratification of the Treaty of Nice.
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
80, St Stephen's Green,
This Letter appeared in The Irish Examiner 10 May 2001Top