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MEP disputes Referendum Commission’s claim on ESM veto

The Referendum Commission’s booklet says a No vote means no access to ESM funding – but Paul Murphy MEP disagrees.

Paul Murphy MEP has written to the Referendum Commission seeking an amendment to its referendum handbook.
Paul Murphy MEP has written to the Referendum Commission seeking an amendment to its referendum handbook.
Image: Referendum Commission

SOCIALIST MEP Paul Murphy has made a formal complaint to the Referendum Commission over claims in its referendum guide about Ireland’s access to European Stability Mechanism funding if Ireland votes no.

Murphy this morning wrote to the Commission raising concerns that the booklet’s contention – that if Ireland votes No to the treaty, any future bailouts cannot include funding from the ESM.

The Commission’s booklet reads that “from March 1st 2013, any future bail-out involving the use of funds from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), will be given only to countries which have ratified and implemented this Treaty.”

After explaining that the ESM is the permanent bailout fund to be established by July 2012, it adds:

So, any future bail-out could not involve access to this particular source of funding.

In a letter to Commission chairman Kevin Feeney this lunchtime, Dublin MEP Murphy disputes this, saying the booklet implies that the ESM treaty has already been enacted, when this is not the case.

“This is inaccurate and represents a prejudging of political decisions that have yet to be taken,” Murphy wrote.

“By just stating that 17 states have signed the ESM without explaining that this does not equate to ratification, the text of the booklet also gives the impression that the ESM is already in place. This is not the case.

The Oireachtas is yet to vote on it as are the majority of Member States’ National Parliaments. In effect the text of the booklet is prejudging the political decisions to be taken by the Oireachtas and National Parliaments around the EU.

Murphy also disputes claims made by the Commission chairman Judge Kevin Feeney in today’s Irish Times where Feeney comments that the “opportunity for a veto” on the ESM treaty “was now gone”.

The MEP said the ESM was proposed to be created through an amendment to Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which he contended was necessary in order to avoid conflict with Article 125, which some believe precludes any bailouts.

As you aware, this amendment to Article 136 must be agreed unanimously by all of the member states. Therefore, Ireland still has an active veto over the establishment of the ESM. The threat of a veto could be used to demand the withdrawal of the clause in the ESM Treaty that makes the connection with the ‘Fiscal Treaty’.

Proponents of the treaty claim that the amendment to Article 136 can be made by a qualified majority of countries and that Ireland therefore does not have a veto.

Murphy also notes the legal action taken by Thomas Pringle TD, who believes the ESM Treaty as it stands could be incompatible with the Constitution of Ireland, and that a referendum could therefore be required on ratifying it.

The MEP has sought an amendment to the guidebook to reflect his arguments.

Read: No second vote if Fiscal Compact referendum is rejected, says minister

More: Noonan: There’s no backup fund if Ireland votes No

Too complex? The Fiscal Compact, rewritten in layman’s terms

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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