Cowen Calls on Nice Treaty Opponents to ‘Come Clean'
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., has called on opponents of the Nice Treaty to spell out the true basis for their opposition to Europe. He said that incredibly there is still a group of rejectionists in the country which does not recognise the tremendous benefits Ireland has enjoyed from membership of the EU. "These are the same people", he said, "who opposed our membership of the Union in the first instance and every step in its development since then". He said it would be vital in the forthcoming referendum campaign for the debate to focus on the content and importance of the Treaty of Nice and not to be side-tracked by spurious arguments totally unrelated to the issue of enlargement, from which Ireland stands to benefit enormously and which is at the heart of the Nice Treaty.
Speaking today in Dublin to Ambassadors from applicant countries, the Minister said that enlargement will ensure free access to over 100 million new customers for Irish exporters.
Citing UNICE, the European business organisation, he said that trade between the EU and the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe is growing at 20% per year. Ireland's trade with the twelve countries has grown five fold since 1993. In 1999 we exported over IR£600 million in goods and services to these countries. Because of the huge dynamic for growth and development in the applicant countries there is a massive potential for significant increases in our sales of goods and services to them. In order to achieve their economic potential they will need the precise type of expertise and input that knowledge-based Irish business can offer.
Many indigenous Irish companies are at a stage of their development when they must invest abroad if they are to expand and continue to provide high quality jobs at home.
The Treaty of Nice will ensure that the EU will be ready to face the challenges which the addition of new member countries will bring about. "However", he said "listening to some of the comments made by the opponents of the Treaty in recent weeks one could be forgiven for wondering what Treaty they are discussing. Claims that the Treaty will erode our neutrality or diminish our power vis-a-vis the larger member states simply do not stand up to scrutiny."Top