Giscard proposes Irish deal


FORMER FRENCH president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has said that retaining all 27 European commissioners would not be in the best interest of the European Union and a more “elegant solution” would be to allow Ireland a derogation whereby it would be guaranteed its commissioner until 2020.

Mr Giscard (83), who chaired the commission that drafted the proposed EU constitution, was addressing a debate on the Lisbon Treaty at Trinity College Dublin’s Philosophical Society.

Earlier, he had met Taoiseach Brian Cowen at Government Buildings for over an hour, where they discussed the forthcoming second referendum on the treaty and wider European affairs.

Outlining his view that the number of commissioners should be reduced to 15, he said that the commission would be built on skill and competence rather than national identity, and it would operate on a strict rule of rotation.

“The commission has to be effective. Everybody knows this. The excessive number of commissioners leads to a multiplication of interventions as each commissioner wants to justify his existence by proposing new measures for implementation.”

He pointed out that the complement of commissioners was identified as only the fourth most important issue for those who voted No in last June’s referendum – it ranked after confusion as to the treaty’s contents, the question of identity and moral values, he said.

He said that Ireland could ratify Lisbon in a second referendum, or vote No again, leading to isolation or to a situation where the Nice Treaty – “the worst of all EU treaties” – would still operate. Both would leave Ireland in difficulty.