Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern T.D., urges strong 'Yes' vote in keynote speech to Law Society and rules out any change in Taxation
Speaking over the weekend at the annual Law Society Dinner where he delivered the keynote address, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern T.D. stressed the benefits of EU membership and stated that the Reform Treaty is about an EU which will work better for Irish citizens and for Ireland's economic welfare.
The Minister stressed that:
"The bottom line is this: The Treaty will give Irish people more power to advance our national interests. It will help us defend prosperity. It will enable the EU work better for Irish citizens.
As the Union has empowered us – the Treaty empowers us
We said YES to accession in 1972 – the sovereign decision of a sovereign state – to give us more influence, power and ability to help our own people. And we must say YES to the Reform Treaty for exactly the same reason.
In more specific terms, the major issues facing Ireland today are global. Issues like economic globalisation, climate change, energy security and cross-border crime, issues which cannot be effectively dealt with alone, especially by smaller countries like our own. The Reform Treaty puts in place the necessary administrative reforms, the streamlined decision making processes to allow the EU - as a powerful global player – to face these issues with confidence.
In particular the treaty protects our tax sovereignty: unanimity continues to apply to all taxation matters.
We have had a lot of talk on the issue of taxation in recent days. The reality is this: The Reform Treaty secures the existing Treaty arrangements whereby taxation matters must be decided by a unanimous vote. Taxation matters are and will remain within the competence of Member States. Any Member State can veto any proposal on taxation. Issues such as a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base would require unanimous agreement to become community law. That level of agreement is simply not there. Ireland simply would not support such a move. Put simply – the Reform Treaty by protecting tax sovereignty secures our national sovereignty on issues of taxation.
With reference to his audience at the Incorporated Law Society's
headquarters at Blackhall Place the Minister said "the Treaty also
brings into force the Charter of Fundamental Rights to reflect the
Union's values and underpin the rights of individuals across the
Union. The Charter provides a clear statement, in a single and
comprehensible document, of the fundamental rights recognised by EU
law. These rights are drawn from existing provisions of EU law, the
European Convention on Human Rights and other international human
rights treaties to which the Member States are party, as well as
the constitutional traditions common to the Member States. This
reflects the case-law of the European Court of Justice.
At the same time it is important to be clear that the Charter will not extend the EU's competence on fundamental rights matters and it applies only to the institutions of the Union and to the Member States when implementing EU law”.
The Minister concluded by saying that:
“Over the past five decades the European project has, understandably, focused mainly on Europe itself. Rebuilding from the disaster of the Second World War and ending the continent’s East-West divide consumed much of Europe’s energies. Viewed against history, the outcome has been extraordinary. Quite frankly, Ireland has probably benefited more than most from Europe's renewal. For the next decade Europe will not have the luxury of focusing mainly on ourselves. We will have to concentrate more on our relations with the world beyond the Union. Climate change, the global economic downturn, immigration, demographic changes and the problems facing the developing world present huge world-wide challenges. We cannot exempt ourselves from these challenges. How these are dealt with will shape our future. It is only right that we should want to be part of the solution. Indeed, it is in our national interest to do so. We can do this best through Europe”.
13th April 2008