Have the courage to vote No to Nice

30th May 2001

IN this column I want to put forward some reasons why you should vote no to Nice and some reasons why you should ignore guff from the likes of Bertie Ahern.

1. The Nice Treaty is only for the expansion of the EU.

This is a lot of populist nonsense. If the only way to get into the EU is via Nice then how did we get in? And how did six other countries get in after us?

The fact is that negotiations with these eastern European countries have already started. All of these countries have already signed trade treaties with the EU so they are enjoying the benefits of the single market.

Even if the Nice Treaty is passed it doesn’t mean that these countries will be allowed in.

In any case the immediate benefits of membership are not clear. The reason that they want to join is that they are pursuing a pot of gold. They will accept almost anything in return.

And they won’t get much. Aid will be capped at 4% of GDP to the new countries. This despite the fact that these countries are exceptionally poor.

When Ireland joined we were at 62% of European GDP. The applicant countries are at 35% of GDP and with aid capped at 4% of that low GDP they are going to be waiting a long time for their pot of gold.

In the meantime their old industries will have to meet EU standards or close down. One German commentator has said that joining the EU will end whatever competitive advantage the eastern European countries have.

So let’s not be kidded that the likes of Poland will be left floundering if they don’t get admitted in the short term. In fact, all of the applicant countries have growth rates greater than the EU at the present.

I am in favour of an expanded EU. What must be opposed is European integration mixed up with expansion.

2. The Nice Treaty is only a minor adjustment.

In the recent foot and mouth scare Ireland was allowed to isolate county Louth when the disease struck. Why? Almost certainly because our commissioner Davy Byrne argued the case.

While commissioners are supposed to mind their own brief they also, in reality, are advocates for their countries.

For the first time, if the Nice Treaty is passed, member countries will have to go without a commissioner.

The pro-Nice side argue that appointment to the commission will be by strict rotation and that at some point even Germany will lose their commissioner.

True, but their commissioners are not as valuable to them as ours is to us. They will have 99 MEPs – we will have 12. They will have 29 votes in the Council of Ministers – we will have seven.

Furthermore 30 new areas will be decided by Qualified Majority Voting. Ireland will have seven votes out of 237.

That means that in these areas even if all 166 Dail Deputies vote one way they can have their decision vetoed by the EU.

3. There are no major military implications in the Nice Treaty.

While the Rapid Reaction Force is not created under the Treaty of Nice, the military foundation is being strengthened. Specifically the EU is cutting its links with the WEU, an external military body. The Nice Treaty therefore prepares the EU for militarisation.

The Government says that Ireland can opt out of operations.

That’s missing the point.

The point is that this begins the process of militarising the EU. Does anyone honestly believe that this will be the last military development of this kind?

We in the EU enjoy enormous wealth while billions in the third world live in poverty. The world’s economic system supports this status quo.

At some point in the future the military might of the EU will be deployed to defend our economic interests. That’s the way the world works. To say otherwise would be like saying that American military might is only used in the service of democracy.

Vote No.

As well as that…

Power moving one way

NOW you know that under Nice Ireland will lose its automatic right to a commissioner. You know that 30 more areas of policy will be decided by Qualified Majority Voting in Europe. And you know that Ireland’s relative voting strength and number of MEPs will be reduced.

But do you know how many powers will be moving from Brussels to Dublin?

None.

Remember back in the days of the Maastrict when the referendum was defeated in Denmark and came within a whisker of being defeated in France the talk was of subsidiary.

This was the idea that only those areas that were absolutely necessary would be decided in Brussels.

There’s not much talk about subsidiarity now. In fact, it’s been forgotten.

This is way that EU integration works. Promise something to get the process over a hump and then continue on as usual mopping up powers and decision-making that used to be exercised locally.

The whole thing is devious and dishonest, and you wouldn’t be asked your opinion if it wasn’t legally necessary. Make sure you use your vote to stop this process.

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