Treaty of Nice: The Consequences of "No"
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., has condemned as "ludicrous" arguments advanced by campaigners against the Treaty of Nice. Speaking in Dublin at the Institute of European Affairs, he said that the "the campaign against the Treaty of Nice aims to block enlargement and frustrate the legitimate aspirations of the candidate countries. I am confident that this is not the wish or intention of the Irish people".
The Minister was speaking in a debate on the future of Europe with the German Foreign Minister, Mr. Joschka Fischer. "Any debate", he said, "about the future of Europe must take place in the context of the significant enlargement we are facing. The Treaty of Nice is about preparing the Union for enlargement. It is hardly necessary, therefore, to stress the key importance of ratifying the Treaty of Nice. Ireland, of course, is in a unique position in this regard, with a referendum to be held shortly. I am confident that the Irish people will recognise, as they have on several previous occasions, that it is in their interests and the wider interest of Europe to vote ‘Yes' to ratification."
The Minister called again on opponents of the Treaty to come clean on the true basis of their opposition to Europe and said that many of the arguments advanced by the No campaign have nothing to do with the Treaty. "In recent weeks we have read that the European Union is a "leech" and seen the remarkable contention that the Treaty of Nice would bring abortion, euthanasia and conscription to Ireland! It is the job of all who recognise the tremendous benefits which membership of the Union has brought to Ireland and who support progress towards enlargement to point out the ludicrousness of those arguments, and the fact that some groups are knowingly and deliberately encouraging such fears, in the full knowledge that the Treaty clearly means nothing of the sort".
On the future of Europe the Minister said that member States should commit themselves to making a success of the significant challenges we face in the coming decade in strengthening and consolidating a rapidly expanding Union. "Developments such as the single market, the Euro and the Common Foreign and Security Policy are all illustrative of areas where we can achieve much more together than separately," he said, "and it is common ground among European leaders that the Member State will remain the essential building block of the Union".