Dáil Éireann - Volume 315 - 27 June, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EEC Veto.

18. Mr. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of times the veto has been used (i) by Ireland and (ii) by other member countries of the EEC since our accession and on what issues.

Mr. D. Andrews: Strictly speaking, a veto has never been used. That is to say, there has been no occasion when a question [1196] was put to the vote in the council and action was blocked because a member state imposed a veto. Since 1965 the Luxembourg “Agreement”, or “Compromise” has been observed according to which council decisions are taken unanimously where very important interests of one or more member states are involved.

What happens in practice is that when it is clear that a member state is not willing to agree to a proposal which it sees as being contrary to its very important national interests, the proposal is not pursued for the time being or is withdrawn. Though this is not a veto in the formal sense it has, of course, an equivalent effect.

On a limited number of occasions since 1965, a very important national interest has been formally declared by a member state and for that reason no vote has been taken since unanimity would not be forthcoming.

More frequently, however, it has become clear in discussion at working group or council level that one or more member states would withhold agreement to a proposal, which has, therefore, not been proceeded with, although the member state in question has not in fact declared that a very important national interest was involved.