There have been some very impressive and eye catching claims made by the various factions within the No Camp. In some cases their argurments are made very professionally, are bolstered by quotes from the Treaty and often look entirely plausible. I have found, however, that in all cases that I’ve seen so far, when you dig a little deeper, you find that these impressive edifices are build on foundations of sand. The technique is usually to misrepresent the content the Treaty or to use sleight of hand to shock the reader into thinking that behind the Treaty there is a vast and hidden agenda in which both the Yes camp and the referendum commission are complicit. Another tactic is to imploy the notions of sovereignty and nationhood in an evocative way that obscures any reasoned argument about the value of our place in the
Let’s start with taxation. It’s widely cited by the No camp that
First, there is no provision in the
The Council shall, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition. [ Consolidated TEU, Art. 113]
Where ‘turnover tax’ essentially means VAT. Note that this provision is specifically dealing with indirect taxation. Corporate tax is a direct form of taxation so there is no question of it being imposed without getting further consent from the member states. In fact, so sensitive is the area of taxes that even the area of Energy, which was introduced in
The Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, shall unanimously and after consulting the European Parliament, establish the measures referred to therein when they are primarily of a fiscal nature.[ Consolidated TEU, Art. 194]
This approach applies throughout the treaties. Again, for example, in the area of environment, matters relating to taxation are to be decided using unanimity. In short,
Another area which has been highlighted by the No camp (particularly by Anthony Coughlan) is that the treaty changes the way nation states select a commissioner. First, the phraseology always used is “
The members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity [Consolidated TEU Art 17.5].
Any Commissioner which violates this can be forced to resign by the President of the Commission. Furthermore the commission as a body is responsible to the democratically elected European Parliament.
Mr. Coughlan makes much of the change in wording from using the verb “propose” to the form “suggestion” in relation to how commissioners are appointed. His implication is that that Council and Parliament can ignore our suggestion and then select whoever they want. But the text is clearer than that. They shall be selected…on the basis of the suggestions made by Member States [Consolidated TEU 17.7]. There is no escaping the suggestions by the member state. Clearly, as has happened before in the case of Italian commissioner designate Buttiglione, the member state may suggest an entirely unsuitable candidate whose tract record is incompatible with promoting the interests of the
The Socialist Party of Joe Higgins are voting No because they claim
The Holidays (Employees) Act 1973 - increased annual leave from 2 to 3 weeks
The Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 – right to a minimum period of notice before dismissal
Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act 1974.
Employment Equality Act 1977 implemented the 1975 Equal Pay and the 1976 Equal Treatment Directives
Unfair Dismissals Act 1977
Protection of Employment Act , as amended in 1996 and 2000, implementing Council Directive 75/129/EEC which puts an onus on employers to enter consultation with employees representatives in the case of collective redundancy and to notify the relevant authorities.
Terms of Employment Act 1994 – Directive 91/533/EEC which puts an onus on employers to make conditions of employment clear and specific
Maternity Protection Act 1994 92/85/EEC
Adoptive Leave Act 1995
Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 94/33/EC
Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, 93/104/EC – clarifies conditions on working time, minimum rest period, maximum shifts
Parental Leave Act 1998 – 96/34/EC
Employment Equality Act 1998 - the purpose of which was to outlaw
discrimination in employment on nine separate grounds (gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller Community) thus further implementing Directives 75/117/EEC and 76/207/EEC and anticipating Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC
National Minimum Wage Act 2000
Carer’s Leave Act 2001
Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001, the purpose of which was to transpose Directive 98/81/EC and Directive 96/71/EC. – on working in hazardous environments, and entitlements of workers posted to
Protection of Employees (Fixed- Term Work) Act 2003, the purpose of which was to transpose Directive 99/70/EC. – equal treatment of fixed term contractors
European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003, the purpose of which was the transposition of the mandatory requirements of Directive 2001/23/EC – protection of employees in mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies
In short, after
It is true that the EU has attempted to promote competition in the services area by making it easier for workers to cross borders, notably via the famous services directive of 2001 which aimed to allow companies to maintain workers in another country for a temporary period on conditions of the country of origin. It should be understood that services remains an area that is stubbornly closed to competition and which as a result is highly uncompetitive internationally and is, quite simply, ripping off the local consumer. But even here, the EU measures were both limited and controversial and in the end the final measures were so watered down that they remain completely insignificant. Overall, nothing promoted from the angle of competition has undone the huge body of workers’ rights that the
Many No campaigners argue (the socialists, and members of the Peace and neutrality alliance) that the Lisbon’s provisions on competition will break open our health services to the private sector and make health care a product not a public service. (Let’s ignore the fact that the elected representatives in many countries with public services to put ours to shame, have negotiated, agreed, and ratified the treaty)
The crux of the argument here is competition. First, the provisions for competition and its central place in EU economic thought is already there.
Second, our health services, again without and before
Third, the treaties include specific provisions on health. Many of them are related to disease control measures or promoting public health. But the Treaties single out health as a sensitive area where the Member state should have prime place and freedom to act:
Union action shall respect the responsibilities of the Member States for the definition of their health policy and for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care. The responsibilities of the Member States shall include the management of health services and medical care and the allocation of the resources assigned to them [ Consolidated TFEU 168.7]
There are two issues here. First, the allegation by the No camp of sleight of hand employed when talking about the change to the constitution and second, the issue of whether the EU is a state and
Anthony Coughlan has argued that the referendum commission is failing in its duty to inform us about
No provision of this [Irish] Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by membership of the European Union referred to in subsection 10° of this section, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said European Union or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State
True, that will be the text of the new subarticle 11 if
The next issues is that the No camp argues about whether
A constitution is a set of rules for a system of governance. When we joined the Union we agreed that some functions of government (government being the authority to make laws and administer them) would be taken by the
Certain factions of the No camp attach an almost mythic meaning to the notion of the nation and of the state. I think you see where I’m going here. For them the nation and the state are sacred concepts. If you’ve followed the piece this far there is no need to remind you where this kind of ideological dogma has led in the past. If you can remain a little pragmatic and level headed about it, I would propose that a state is a political association with sovereignty over a defined area. Under that definition, yes, the EU is a state. But let’s add the qualifiers we know belong here. It is a voluntary political association with limited sovereignty given to it by its members to promote their interests as a collective.
Moving on to independence – another sacred cow for the No camp. First, this is not 1916. We live in the 21st century where the world is tightly interconnected and interdependent as never before. A multipolar world is emerging where the major issues, such as global trade and climate change, are decided by a small number of big players. Though new in depth and extent, the picture of dominant players controlling the international scene is not as new as we think. The modern world was ever thus. Alliances and clashes of the Great Powers characterised the development of the modern world from the Teaty of Westphalia of 1648. But key here is the acknowledgement that, with one twentieth of one percent of the world’s population, a minuscule nation such as ours needs to be part of something bigger. We are one of the most globalised nations on the planet, which for the most part has been to our great advantage.