Protest at commission's role in debate


THE EUROPEAN Commission has been accused of acting ultra vires and of “behaving like a political party by engaging directly in the Irish referendum campaign”.

An anti-Lisbon group, the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, issued a response yesterday to a statement from the commission on Friday in which it set out its view of a number of issues pertinent to the Lisbon debate.

These relate to trade agreements, Ireland’s voting weight in the council, Turkish EU membership and bureaucracy in the Common Agricultural Policy.

Director of the National Platform Anthony Coughlan said a move by the commission to counter a claim by Farmers for a No Vote that the treaty would affect inheritance rights here was “the Brussels commission behaving as a political party and engaging directly in the Irish referendum campaign”.

“The commission is using the EU taxpayers’ money, partly financed by Irish taxpayers, through the medium of its website to help support the Yes campaign.

“The Commission is acting ultra vires here. It has absolutely no legal function in relation to the ratification of new European treaties. It only acquires functions in relation to these treaties once they have been ratified and become part of the European law.”

Separately, Munster MEP Brian Crowley also responded to the claims by the Farmers for a No Vote that inheritance rights would be affected by the treaty.

This was a “baseless allegation”, he said “The bottom line is that the EU institutions only have the powers to bring forward new laws in policy areas given to it under the EU treaties. This principle is known as the doctrine of conferral.

“Irish inheritance laws are governed by the Succession Act 1965, by amending legislation and by subsequent Irish case law.”

The Fine Gael Lisbon campaign director Billy Timmins yesterday said his party’s focus would be on the economic dividends of EU membership. “The EU is the economic handrail we need now more than ever,” he said.

Another group,, said it was vital voters be clear on the fact the referendum was not one on EU membership or influence, but on a specific treaty.