Dáil Éireann - Volume 607 - 06 October, 2005
Written Answers. - EU Constitution.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
15. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the situation in relation to the holding of a referendum on the EU constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26877/05]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
97. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in regard to the ratification of the treaty on the EU constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27080/05]
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
158. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding the holding of a referendum on the EU constitution in view of  President Barroso’s recent comments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27217/05]
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
161. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his assessment of the implications for the proposed EU constitution of the results of the referenda in France and Holland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19101/05]
Mr. J. Higgins Mr. J. Higgins
165. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the role he envisions the Referendum Commission playing in regard to the proposed new EU constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18934/05]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Mr. D. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 15, 97, 158, 161 and 165 together.
The position is that 13 member states have ratified the European constitution to date, two by referendum and 11 by parliamentary procedure. Parliamentary ratification procedures are far-advanced in one other member state. The constitution has been rejected by referendum in two member states. The Government very much regretted the referendum results in France and the Netherlands, while respecting the decisions of the people of those countries, just as we respect the decisions of those who have already ratified the constitution.
It is now accepted that the European constitution will not enter into force by the target date of 1 November 2006. Beyond this, the implications of the no votes in France and the Netherlands remain unclear. Following the referendum results, the June European Council decided to initiate a period of reflection with regard to the European constitution. The intention is that member states should avail of this opportunity to hold national debates on European issues, including the European constitution. Next week, as part of this process, the Government will publish the White Paper on the European Constitution which gives a factual description of the constitution and Ireland’s approach to its negotiation. The White Paper will help raise public awareness of the constitution and the issues it addresses.
The Heads of State and the Government will review the position with regard to the European Constitution during the Austrian Presidency in 2006. We need to let this process take its course. President Barroso has suggested that the constitution will not enter into force for the next two or three years. This reflects a widely-held view of the constitution’s ratification prospects. President Barroso’s main point, however, was that the EU should give priority to dealing with such pressing issues as job creation, security, and protecting the environment. I agree that success in tackling these problems will reinforce the EU’s credibility with the European public. The Government  remains committed to the European constitution because we believe it to be good for Europe and good for Ireland. The constitution is the product of a debate which was unprecedented in its openness and scope, first at the European convention and then at the intergovernmental conference. It represents a carefully balanced compromise between the member states. We continue to look forward to the constitution’s ratification and entry into force. Until the position is clarified at the European level, it is not intended to set a date for a referendum in Ireland. A similar approach has been adopted in those other member states which intend to ratify the constitution by referendum. As no date will be set in the short-term, the issue of the establishment of the Referendum Commission does not arise at this time.
Dáil Éireann 607 Written Answers. EU Constitution.