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Press statement from The National Platform EU Research and Information
Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9;  Tel:01-8305792

Thursday 20 January 2005

Mr Charlie McCreevy has been appointed an EU Commissioner, yet he stated
last week that he intends to play an active part on behalf of the Yes
Campaign in the upcoming referendum on the "Treaty Establishing a
Constitution for Europe".

While Mr McCreevy, like any civil servant, will have a vote in the
referendum as an Irish citizen, is it really appropriate for him as a
supranational public official to campaign in such a fashion? Is it
compatible with a proper appreciation of his role as an EU Commissioner?

EU Commissioners take an oath to put the EU's interests before any national
interest when they take up their jobs. Whether Commissioners are Irish,
Italian or Danish does not mean they are there to work for Ireland, Italy
or Denmark. They may like to believe that expanding the EU's power and
functions is identical with their own country's interests, but it is not
necessarily so.

The EU Commission has no role in the ratification of EU treaties, which are
exclusively a matter for the Member States. Yet the Commission, which has
the exclusive right to propose European laws, is very much an interested
party.  It will gain a huge increase in its own powers at the expense of
national Parliaments, Member States and their citizens if the proposed EU
Constitution is ratified and a further 60 or so national vetoes are

As an EU Commissioner Mr McCreevy is paid a substantial salary for his
services in implementing the existing EC/EU treaties, but surely not to
campaign for ratifying new ones?  If Mr McCreevy can devote his time and
resources that should be spent on Commission business to political
campaigning in the Irish referendum, what is to stop other Commissioners
from doing the same thing?

If the principle of Commission interference of this kind is accepted as
regards Mr McCreevy or his colleagues, what is to prevent the Commission
using its huge financial and personnel resources to interfere in a
one-sided fashion in the Irish and other Member State referendums, against
the principles of constitutional fairness in referendums laid down by the
Supreme Court in the 1995 McKenna case, and quite possibly in violation of
European law as well?

In 1998 it took the threat of legal action by a local citizen, Mr Owen
Bennett, to prevent the European Commission Office in Dublin from
disseminating large amounts of  one-sided pamphlets in the Amsterdam Treaty
referendum under the guise of providing objective information on that
treaty. When the matter was referred to the Commission's Legal Services in
Brussels, they concluded that this action was legally inadvisable. The
Commission's resources, including the salaries of its officials, are
contributed to in part by Irish taxpayers. Those resources should not be
used to forward the ratification of a
Treaty-cum-Constitution that would hugely increase the Commission's powers
at the expense of Irish and other EU citizens who ultimately provide those
resources - a Treaty moreover that may never come into force if it is
rejected by one of the 25 EU Member States.

Irish voters should be permitted to make up their minds on the EU
Constitution without outside intervention of any kind from the EU
Commission or its Commissioners. Commissioner McCreevy should think again.


Anthony Coughlan

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