Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D. launches White Paper on Lisbon Treaty
This White Paper is being published by the Government in order to enhance public knowledge of, and information about, the Lisbon Treaty and Ireland’s legal guarantees. It is designed to be accessible to the general reader and it is hoped that it will facilitate serious and well-informed debate about a matter of the utmost national significance.
The White paper will be widely distributed, including to public representatives, libraries ,citizens’ information centres and local authorities. It will be available on request from the Department of Foreign Affairs. Its availability will be advertised in the media.A dedicated website, www.lisbontreaty.ie, has been put in place in order to ensure that information concerning the Treaty is widely available.
Speaking at the launch of the Government’s White Paper on the Lisbon Treaty this morning in Dublin, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin T.D. said,
“Our intention is to enhance public information and awareness of both the Lisbon Treaty and the substantial package of legal guarantees and assurances which was secured by Ireland at last month’s European Council. We now have agreement among all 27 EU leaders that, if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force:
• Ireland, as well as all other Member States, will keep a Commissioner. Under the existing EU Treaties, the size of the Commission would have to be reduced as and from November of this year. That is an absolute fact under the terms of the EU Treaties as they now stand. If we want to be sure of keeping a Commissioner, Lisbon needs to be ratified;
• Ireland will remain in control of our own tax rates;
• Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality will not be affected in any way. We will retain full control over our defence and security engagements. There will be no European army and no conscription;
• Ireland retains control over sensitive ethical issues, related to the protection of the right to life, the family and education;
• Workers’ rights, social progress and public services are valued and protected, both in Ireland and right across the EU.
• The guarantees on the right to life, education and the family; taxation; and neutrality will become legally-binding the day the Treaty enters into force. Furthermore, these legally-binding guarantees will be included in a Protocol to be attached to the EU Treaties at the time of the next accession treaty.
I recognise that voters had genuinely-held concerns about the Treaty. We have worked hard over the past 12 months to identify, understand and accommodate those concerns.
We have benefited hugely from EU membership over the decades. That is not disputed, even by those who oppose the Treaty. We have derived particular benefit from the creation of the European single market and from participation in the euro, which has been especially important in the recent global economic crisis . The Lisbon Treaty is a reforming treaty to strengthen the European Unions ability to meet the global challenges of climate change, economic crisis, job creation and peace keeping.
I hope that this White Paper will contribute to an informed and facts-based debate about the Treaty, about Ireland’s legal guarantees and about the vital question of our future in the European Union.
The Government believes that this Treaty is good for Ireland and good for Europe. Our task now is to bring our case before the people and to ask them, with our country’s best interests at heart, to support the Treaty in a referendum later this year.
8th July 2009