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MEPs approve Ireland's Lisbon Treaty add-ons

A committee of the European Parliament approves a ‘draft protocol’ dealing with Ireland’s post-Lisbon parliament.

Jose Manuel Barroso in the European Parliament chamber in Brussels: MEPs this morning approved a draft proposal copperfastening Ireland's
Jose Manuel Barroso in the European Parliament chamber in Brussels: MEPs this morning approved a draft proposal copperfastening Ireland's
Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

A COMMITTEE of the European Parliament has this morning approved a draft document giving assurances that the EU’s Lisbon Treaty will not compromise Ireland’s independence in matters on security, tax and the right to life.

The Constitutional Affairs committee of the European Parliament approved the decision reached by EU leaders in June 2009 to offer full assurances to Ireland that the Lisbon Treaty would not affect Ireland’z corporate tax rate, military neutrality or abortion laws.

That decision had been deemed necessary by the European Council, the body of the EU heads of government, after Irish voters had rejected the Lisbon Treaty in their first referendum in June 2008.

The declaration from the leaders at that date came with the provision that it would be added to formal EU law – through the medium of a ‘protocol’ attached to the EU’s founding treaties – in parallel to the negotiation of the next Accession Treaty.

That has only come now, almost four years after the rejection of the referendum, with Croatia signing up to become the European Union’s 28th member in July 2013.

Today’s vote has implications beyond Ireland, however – the committee’s draft proposal also ensures that after the Lisbon Treaty takes effect in 2014, the European Commission will retain one member for each of the member states.

EU legal processes mean that the protocol does not formally require the approval of the European Parliament, but approval from MEPs is generally seen as an important barometer of whether measures should be carried forward or not.

There are no Irish MEPs among the 22 members of the influential constitutional affairs committee. The matter will now be debated by the European Parliament’s full plenary session in mid-April and will likely become full EU law by the end of the year.

Read: Burton: referendum will be held in early summer >

More: Translated: The Fiscal Compact rewritten in layman’s terms >

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Gavan Reilly

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