Commission rejects claims of anti-Lisbon farmers


CLAIMS BY farmers opposing the Lisbon Treaty are incorrect, misleading and represent a “totally distorted picture of the reality”, the European Commission has said.

In a rare intervention in a referendum debate, the commission has responded directly to rebuff the specific claims of anti-Lisbon group Farmers For No, which this week launched its campaign against the treaty.

The group, which criticises the Irish Farmers Association’s support for the treaty, says voting Yes would be a “death wish” for Irish farming.

It maintains a Yes vote in the referendum would jeopardise farm succession rights, remove Ireland’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) veto, reduce Ireland’s voting weight and lead to a massive influx of Turkish farmers into the European Union.

The commission has vigorously rejected each of the groups’ claims, which it says are all factually incorrect.

There is no threat to farm succession rights, the commission said. “This is a matter that will continue to be governed by national rules and traditions. The issue of succession rights is not a European competence.”

Ireland’s voting weight remains “as strong as ever”, it added. The group’s claim that Ireland’s voting weight would be reduced from 2 per cent to 0.8 per cent, was “untrue”.

The WTO trade agreements still required unanimous approval by member states, it added.

Accession of any new states to the EU was also subject to the approval of the current members, it said. The commission was emphatic in saying that the treaty did not promote Turkey’s application to join the union “in any way”.

Farmers for No spokesman David Thompson responded by saying: “The message is clear: vote Yes to Lisbon and you get a Turkey, maybe not by Christmas, but it will come. Senior EU leaders have stated clearly that Lisbon is necessary for more enlargement.”

Separately, Socialist TD Joe Higgins has criticised the chief executive of Intel Ireland, Jim O’Hara, for calling for a Yes vote.

Mr O’Hara’s statement this week that Intel would be spending hundreds of thousands of euro campaigning for the treaty represented an “unconcealed attempt by a major multinational to shape politics in its favour”, Mr Higgins said.

Intel would benefit from the further militarisation of the EU because it manufactured components for military hardware, he added. “Intel’s selfish motivation in intervening into this debate is crystal clear.”