Dáil Éireann - Volume 573 - 23 October, 2003
Written Answers. - European Union Issues.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh
104. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the conclusion of a report by a high level group of German and French diplomats and academics published in European Diary on 30 September 2003 that equality among the EU member states is unrealistic and threatens the integrity of the EU. [24710/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The report to which the Deputy refers is a broad survey of the Franco-German relationship in the context of an enlarging European Union. The report observes that the ability to move beyond national interests will be crucial in a more heterogeneous Union. It also concludes, correctly, that the Union of the future needs democratic legitimacy and openness, not alliances which give rise to counter-alliances – it makes particular reference to the need to avoid pitting ‘big' against ‘small'. It rightly suggests that France and Germany have nothing to gain from such an approach.
 The report quotes former Belgian Prime Minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, as having observed that “in the European Union, the equality of Member States does not exist”. In support of this contention, it observes that, until the Treaty of Nice, the larger member states had two commissioners each to the smaller member states' one. They also have greater voting weight in the Council, and more seats in the Parliament.
The report accepts that the “over-representation of the ‘smalls' will naturally continue to be a part of the rules of an enlarged Union”. The authors, who favour an integrationist approach, add, however, that to ignore the weight of the larger member states, in particular, the role of the Franco-German relationship, would be dangerous to the “community spirit”.
The Government is of the view that future arrangements for the Union must reflect, in an appropriate manner, the equal sovereignty of all member states.
Dáil Éireann 573 Written Answers. European Union Issues.