DEBATE ON THE NICE TREATY
PROINSIAS DE ROSSA MEP,
Sir - Anthony Coughlan (July 9th) says he is not a xenophobe. I did not say he was. I deplored his "thinly-veiled appeal to xenophobia" as part of his argument. He then goes on to repeat his remarks in an even more exaggerated form, referring to "extending the right to residence, work and to health and social welfare - to a possible 75 million East Europeans from January 2004".
This is the kind of language which the xenophobic right is using everywhere in Europe. There are votes in it, and in my opinion Anthony Coughlan has decided quite deliberately and reprehensibly to provoke a xenophobic reaction to Nice. His position has caused anger and dismay among some of his Eurosceptic allies in Europe, one of whom has publicly denounced his position (ref: Spectre magazine editorial, July 5th: www.spectrezine.org).
Anthony Coughlan is factually wrong about migration, as he should know, being an avid follower of EU documentation. In a European Commission paper published in March of last year (available on my website, www.derossa.com), the potential for migration from East European candidate countries was examined. Having reviewed a range of studies on the topic the paper concludes that: "estimates put the long-run migration potential from the candidate countries at roughly 1 per cent of the EU15 population". It identifies the factors which influence labour movement, apart from war and famine, as: income gap, labour market situation, demand for services, proximity, tradition and networks, ethnic and political problems, cultural and linguistic barriers, and expectations. It goes on to say: "The early years flow from the eight Central and East European candidate countries aspiring to accede in 2003 are estimated at 70,000 to 150,000 workers per year." It says further that approximately 76 per cent of these will go to Germany and Austria. So, even if we take the higher estimate of 150,000 workers migrating each year to the EU15, Ireland will be host to a tiny fraction of these, probably not more than 2,000.
The report also attempts to identify the advantages and disadvantages of such migration. It points out that migrants generally benefit the economy of the host country, while of course they make their contributions to the social welfare fund, health levy, taxation, etc.
Interestingly, while Anthony Coughlan tries to raise a scare about health and welfare costs the report points out that "jobseekers [from another state\] are not entitled to social welfare benefits in the member-state where they are looking for a job. Thus the EU acquis should not give rise to migration for the purpose of obtaining social security and social assistance."
In my earlier letter I challenged Patricia McKenna and the Sinn Féin Party to come clean on their attitude to their ally and mentor using xenophobia in his efforts to defeat Nice. Their failure to utter a single word of censure of Anthony Coughlan, while vociferously attacking the IDA's CEO and the President of Ireland for daring to open their mouths about Nice, leads me to conclude that they support him.
Of course, when all is said and done, is it not curious that Anthony Coughlan is using a scare about enlargement to defeat a treaty which he strenuously argues is not about enlargement? - Yours, etc.,
PROINSIAS DE ROSSA MEP, Socialist Group, European Parliament,
Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
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Sir, - Jack Cullinane (July 10th)appears to have misunderstood the new arrangements that will apply to the Commission if Nice is ratified. It might be useful if to set out what the actual position will be.
For some time, there has been a widespread feeling among the members of the EU that, if it is not to become unwieldy and inefficient, the Commission cannot continue to grow in line with every enlargement of the Union.
First steps were taken at Amsterdam, when the five large countries agreed that, subject to modifications in the Council of Ministers, they would be prepared to give up their right to nominate a second Commissioner.
Various proposals for reform were brought forward. Some suggested that the creation of a two-tier Commission - with senior and junior Commissioners - was the way forward. Ireland believed, as did others, that was likely to disadvantage the smaller countries. We argued strongly, and we succeeded in ensuring, that the new arrangements respect the principle of equality among member-states.
Under Nice, as part of the overall agreement, the larger member-states will lose their right to nominate a second Commissioner in 2005. All member-states, regardless of size, will nominate one Commissioner until the membership reaches 27. The issue will then be looked at again.
At that time, the governments will decide, acting unanimously, what the future size of the Commission should be. It is already decided that this will be fewer than 27. However, Nice includes the vital guarantee that the right to nominate a Commissioner will be rotated on a strictly equal basis between us all.
Ireland will have exactly the same rights as France, Germany or, for that matter, Estonia.
I hope this addresses Mr Cullinane's concerns. - Yours, etc.,
TIM DOYLE, Press Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs, St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.