Minister Roche responds to reports regarding composition of EU Commission
“The speculation that the position regarding the new Commission composition is under discussion is just that - speculation. The reality that we face is that those who advocated a NO vote on the basis that it would “protect ‘Ireland’s Commissioner” misled the Irish people and have left Ireland and the other Member States with a very difficult position to be resolved” - Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche,T.D.
Responding to media reports regarding arrangements for the appointment of the EU Commission in 2009, Minister Dick Roche said today:-
"The French Foreign Ministry has stated that the press reports on the future composition of the European Commission are "without foundation”. The speculation that the position regarding the new Commission composition is under discussion is just that - speculation. The French Presidency has pointed out that it is premature to engage in speculation given the June European Council Conclusions. The French have also pointed out, correctly, that in the event of the Lisbon Treaty not being ratified, the Nice Treaty applies. The Nice Treaty provides for a Commission college of fewer than the number of Member States and that the Council is to decide on this by unanimity and that the modalities for equal rotation are to reflect geographic balance.
The priority for Ireland is to understand the issues that influenced the referendum outcome and to revert to the matter in the October EU Council and not to engage in speculation that is fuelled by a media reports. What this does illustrate is the very difficult position that will apply when it comes to appointing the EU Commission that takes office from 2009.
The reality is that under the Nice Treaty, under which we are operating at the moment, the Commission must be reduced to less than 27 when it takes office late next year. The number it will be reduced to and the method for doing so has not been determined. What is ironic is that under the Lisbon Treaty, we were provided with certainty and, very importantly, with flexibility.
The certainty we were provided with under the Lisbon Treaty
(i) that each Member State would retain its Commissioner until 2014;
(ii) that each Member State would be treated equally thereafter - a huge move forward for small Member States, and
(iii) under Lisbon, if the Member States agreed, it would be possible to revert to one Commissioner per Member State as the Lisbon Treaty provides for the Member States to alter the number.
None of this is provided for under the Nice Treaty. One of the consequences of our No vote is that the certainty, equality and flexibility which was provided for by the Lisbon Treaty has been rejected and cannot be applied. While not wanting to re-enter the Referendum debate the reality that we face is that those who advocated a NO vote on the basis that it would “protect ‘Ireland’s Commissioner” misled the Irish people and have left Ireland and the other member states with a very difficult position to be resolved. "