Launch of Treaty of Nice White Paper - Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen TD today launched the White Paper on the Treaty of Nice. The purpose of the White Paper is to outline and explain the changes which will be made by the Treaty of Nice. The Treaty is the outcome of an intensive process of negotiations between the Member States of the European Union in an Intergovernmental Conference aimed at completing preparations for enlargement.
The White Paper provides a factual account of the changes made by the Treaty, which are aimed at facilitating the effective functioning of the institutions in an enlarged Union, while maintaining essential balances.
The White Paper will be widely distributed. In addition to widespread distribution to libraries, colleges, Citizens Information Centres and other public institution, copies will be available on request, free of charge, from Department of Foreign Affairs. These can be requested using post, fax, telephone or the specially created e-mail address. A CD-Rom version of the Treaty is also available. In addition the White Paper can also be consulted on the Department's web-site, together with the text of the Treaty itself.
A Summary of the White Paper will also be available, in both English and Irish language versions. In a new departure, to promote greater public awareness, a copy of the Summary will be distributed to every household in the country.
Arrangements are also being made to have copies of the Summary available in braille and on audio tape for persons with a sight disability.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said "it is worth recalling that while many of the provisions of the Nice Treaty, relating as they do to institutional changes, may appear somewhat technical, the Treaty as a whole is about laying the ground-work for changes of enormous significance in the history of Europe. Against a background over the last hundred years of war, persecution and ideological division, there is for the first time a basis for the countries of Europe to come together in a framework based on democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. This is clearly no small or petty undertaking, and offers the prospect, unimaginable even a decade ago, of a continent moving forward together on the path of peace, stability and prosperity".
He continued "I have no doubt that the Treaty of Nice is a good deal for Europe, and a good deal for Ireland. I am confident that this will also be the view of the Irish people in the forthcoming referendum on this issue. On every occasion when the issue has been put to the Irish people they have re-affirmed their support for the Union. This reflects the fact that the Irish public is fully aware of the overwhelmingly positive balance sheet of our membership of the Union. The economic benefits in terms of increased jobs, growth and exports have benefited every region in the country. The Union's contribution to the development of our infrastructure has also been unmistakable. During the 1990s Structural Funds alone averaged more than 2% of annual GNP. A single market of 350 million people, soon to expand to over 500 million, is of enormous importance to an open trading economy like ours. We have also being able to use our voice in the Union to promote an approach to international relations which takes account of our distinctive traditions and interests. Side by side with the economic and political benefits, our full participation in the Union has provided the backdrop to a wonderful increase in national self-confidence, reflected in the flowering of our cultural and artistic life, a development, which contrary to the claims of the critics at the time, has greatly benefitted from forming part of the larger and culturally diverse European mainstream".
He concluded "I believe the case for supporting the Treaty of Nice is extremely compelling. However, the most important consideration at this point is that as many people as possible familiarize themselves with the Treaty. In this way we can help to ensure that at the appropriate time the citizens of this country will be in a position to deliver an informed judgement on its contents.
The White Paper provides the basis for an informed debate, focused on the real issues. I urge that it be read by the widest possible audience".
NOTE FOR EDITORS
Copies of the White Paper on the Treaty of Nice are available on request from the Department of Foreign Affairs by:
Post: White Paper
Department of Foreign Affairs
80 St Stephen's Green
Phone: 01 408 2510
Fax: 01 478 5928
The White Paper is also available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website - www.irlgov.ie/iveagh