CORK MEP Brian Crowley has said that claims by Coir and Sinn Fein that Ireland’s voting weight will be reduced under the Lisbon Treaty are highly misleading.
“The new double majority voting system is more transparent and places smaller countries like Ireland on an equal footing with the larger states.
“This means Ireland will have the same voting weight as Britain, France and Germany. It does this by introducing two elements to the voting system which requires a 65 per cent majority of the EU’s population and a 55 per cent majority of EU member states.
“Each Member State has one vote in the Council and this is balanced by the second criteria based on population. This is simple and fair. These claims about a decrease in voting strength are simply false.
“Important policy areas for Ireland, such as, tax, foreign policy, defence and social security will continue to require a unanimous vote.
“In 2008, the EU Council of Ministers took 50 decisions where unanimity was required and 199 decisions where there was provision for majority voting. Ireland abstained on 3 occasions and did not vote against any of the 199 measures.
“Only one country voted against more than 2 measures. Majority voting is, in practice, now a major feature of EU decision-making. Qualified majority voting has been beneficial to Ireland as it encourages Member States to reach a compromise and leads to more efficient decision-making.”
The Fianna Fáil MEP added, “The European Council has agreed that, should the Lisbon Treaty enter into force, there will continue to be one Commissioner per Member State. The effect of this agreement is that, if Lisbon is ratified, Ireland and each other Member State will retain the right to nominate a Commissioner.
“In other words, the number of Commissioners will equal the number of Member States. Ireland will have one commissioner which is the same as Germany, Britain or France. But the Union can only implement this decision if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force.
“The new legally binding guarantees, which were agreed by 27 EU Governments on June 18th last, are both comprehensive and legally watertight in addressing the issues that mattered most to people during last year’s referendum”
Mr Crowley concluded, “People need not fear this treaty. It protects our right to retain a commissioner, it protects our right to decide on those areas that matter most to us and it provides Ireland with a more equal voice through the double majority voting system. These are three very important reasons to vote yes on October 2nd”.