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Irish employers back Treaty


With Ireland in the grip of a lively referendum campaign on the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation is backing the EU constitution because, as it says, "The Lisbon Reform Treaty creates the legal basis for the liberalisation of services of general economic interest (Art. 106). A yes vote for the Lisbon Treaty creates the potential for increased opportunities for Irish business particularly in areas subject to increasing liberalisation such as Health, Education, Transport, Energy and the Environment."

But Ireland's Technical Engineering and Electrical Union has urged its 45,000 members to vote no in the 12 June referendum. TEEU general secretary Eamon Devoy said recent European Court of Justice judgments showed that the pendulum had swung against workers' rights and in favour of big business.

Despite previous warnings of a "disaster" if Ireland votes no, the Irish government has admitted to an Argentine newspaper that this was in fact untrue, and a no vote would make little difference. "There would be no dire consequence should the referendum go amiss," Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern told the Buenos Aires Herald, "Life will go on as it did after the French and Dutch rejected the European constitutional treaty in 2005."

"A lot of people are just beginning to realise what they have signed up to," one of the negotiators working on the new EU constitutional settlement said. One EU official said the Lisbon Treaty was "more profound and far-reaching than anything else in the EU's 50 year history. It might not be quite Constitutional in the national sense but for us here it is the most important time in our lives," he said. "There has never been such a constellation of jobs and institutional changes aligned at the same moment. A lot of people are talking about a new epoch."