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Monday, September 07, 2009

Double standards II

As the Lisbon campaign in Ireland gets into full swing things are starting to get heated.

Ireland's Defence Minister Willie O'Dea yesterday told us to butt out after we published research showing that the Irish government only managed to get 24 percent of their proposed amendments made to the EU Constitution Lisbon Treaty, when it was negotiated back in 2002-2004 by Europe Minister Dick Roche. The fact is he was dead against some of the things the government is now pushing - such as a permanent EU President, a change to the voting weights, which will see Ireland lose 40% of its power to block decisions it disagrees with, and many of the important veto losses.

It seems fairly inevitable that the Government would have a pop at us for publishing facts they desperately would prefer to hide. But in light of the recent interventions from the EU Commission in the debate, it seems highly hypocritical to tell us to "butt out".

Only two weeks ago, the Commission felt the need to weigh in and rebuff claims made by the 'Farmers for No' campaign. Maybe the Irish government was too busy that day to do the rebutting itself, or maybe it wasn't considered to be up to the job by the "experts" (ha ha) occupying the corridors of DG Communication.

Other imaginative ways to use our taxes its resources to promote a Yes vote include sending EU officials into schools, to foster that all important pester power, and sending Communication Commissioner Margot Wallström to Ireland later this week to speak at various events, including the 'Lisbon Treaty Business Lunch with European Chamber of Ireland' and the 'Labour Women's Conference'. That's not to mention the appearances already seen by EU Commissioners Neelie Kroes, Magelena Kuneva and senior EU Commission official Catherine Day.

Will their salaries be included in the public cost of the 'yes' campaign?


Insideur said...

Just who should explain the EU to ordinary people? Does the Commission not have a responsibility to do that?

Or should it be left to political parties and politically biased think tanks?

Open Europe blog team said...

No, it should not be left to political parties and think-tanks - especially not those which receive public money. In our view it is the role of national governments, and the Commission and other EU institutions could potentially play a role in that.

But let's be clear - there is a huge difference between "explaining" the EU and promoting it. Certainly in the UK at least, there are clear rules regulating the fine line between providing information and promoting policies, parties or governments. This is because taxpayers' money is involved.

We have done much research into the EU's efforts in this area, and concluded, unfortunately, that the institutions and in particular the Commission simply cannot be trusted to stick to providing impartial information. This is probably to be expected, given that the institutions have a conflicting mandate to promote 'ever closer union'.

Please click here to see our research on this:

Insideur said...

Isn't it a double standard to ask the Commission on the one hand to be the engine of integration, and on the other hand to refrain from promoting integration? What is the Commission for? The treaties give it a clear job description. What you seem to be advocating is for the EC to ignore the treaty-based mandate and limit its role. That is not a role that it defines itself; it has been given to the EC by the Member States.