Simple change proposed to treaty text over euro


THE DRAFT text of the EU treaty amendment on the permanent crisis mechanism for the euro is a simple two-sentence statement that gives euro zone states the power to establish the facility.

The amendment would give a legal basis for a permanent mechanism to resolve euro debt crises.

European officials believe the revision will not transfer new powers to the EU and, therefore, may not necessitate another European referendum in Ireland.

The text of the draft amendment was disclosed by Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche at a meeting of the European affairs committee in Leinster House yesterday.

The draft amendment states: “Member states whose currency is the euro may establish amongst themselves a stability mechanism to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditions.”

Committee members were of the view that the text of the proposed amendment suggested a referendum would not be needed in Ireland, as it would not involve a transfer of competency.

Mr Roche said that this was the negotiating text and was subject to legal checks and agreement by the European Council.

He added that while it was clear there were issues to be dealt with, not least ultimately who would bear the risk, he did not envisage the text being changed.

“As soon as it’s finalised it will have to come back for analysis by the Attorney General,” he said.

Mr Roche was responding to questions from Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe and the Labour TD Joanna Tuffy.

Following the exchange, Mr Donohoe said it was now clear that a referendum would not be required under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty.

“The Government must make clear that that was because of a treaty that was democratically accepted by the Irish people.

“While no referendum is required there must be public debate about the nature of the four-year plan and the decisions on how we can leave the fund as quickly as possible,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the question was if there was no transfer of competency, would there be a need for a referendum.

He said it was worth bearing in mind that there were some aspects of treaty change that have been effected in Ireland without a referendum. He cited the accession of new member states in 2004 and 2007.

In his presentation to the committee, Mr Roche said that president of the council, Herman Van Rompuy, would report to the council meeting next Thursday and ask for agreement on the outline of the mechanism and on the treaty amendment text.

Mr Roche noted the favoured proposal was for a simplified revision procedure to the treaty, agreed under the Lisbon Treaty. He said the approach would rule out the possibility of an amendment which would increase the competence conferred on the union.