EU court is asked for quick decision over treaty lawfulness

 

THE SUPREME Court, the Government and Independent TD Thomas Pringle have agreed on three issues to be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union which will determine the lawfulness of the ESM treaty providing for a bailout fund for euro zone states.

The seven-judge court is asking the EU court to address the issues under its accelerated procedures on grounds the matter is “of exceptional urgency”.

It noted that the Government took the view it was essential that Ireland be involved in the ESM treaty from the outset and the Government’s concern a range of adverse consequences may ensue if Ireland did not ratify the treaty in the short term.

The court is also expected to rule within days on Mr Pringle’s application for an injunction stopping the Government ratifying the treaty now on grounds including his claim the treaty is unlawful.

Mr Pringle has disputed that ratification is urgent in circumstances including that Germany will not ratify before at least September 12th due to a legal action there.

John Rogers SC, for Mr Pringle, argued that the status quo should be maintained pending the EU decision because, if the treaty was found to be unlawful, this State would have acted illegally.

Michael Cush SC, for the Government, argued that speedy ratification was essential. If the EU court found in favour of Mr Pringle on all three issues referred, that would have the effect of putting an end to the ESM treaty and Mr Pringle would have his remedy.

The court also heard that the Department of Finance took the view it would be good for Ireland to ratify the treaty as soon as possible, even if it was later found unlawful, as the financial markets would take a positive view of Irish ratification. Jim O’Brien of the department said in an affidavit that the treaty formed an integral element of Ireland’s proposed re- entry to those markets.

The court and the various sides yesterday discussed the wording of three questions to be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU for determination arising from Mr Pringle’s case.

Mr Pringle had appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court’s rejection of his claims that the treaty breaches the constitution and EU law. The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the Constitutional argument, has agreed to adjourn other matters pending the outcome of the referral to the EU court and is expected to rule shortly on the injunction.