Europe has 'powerful enemies' in US, says French Europe minister

24.06.08 @ 17:45

  1. By Honor Mahony
  2. Honor email
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France's Europe minister, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, has said that Europe has enemies in Washington, suggesting that neo-conservatives played a significant role in the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty earlier this month.

  • Jean-Pierre Jouyet made the comments at a pro-Europe rally over the weekend (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

French daily Le Monde reports Mr Jouyet as saying that "Europe has powerful enemies on the other side of the Atlantic, gifted with considerable financial means. The role of American neo-conservatives was very important in the victory of the No."

He made the comments at a pro-Europe meeting in Lyons over the weekend, just over a week after Irish voters rejected the EU's latest treaty by 53.4 to 46.6 percent.

Allegations that some funding for the No side came from across the Atlantic also came up during the Irish debate preceding the referendum.

Libertas, an anti-treaty organisation campaigning on a platform of cutting Brussels red-tape, was on the receiving end of such accusations earlier this month.

The Yes camp alleged it was being bankrolled by a US company, Rivada, which has links to the US military. Some key member of the Libertas campaign had been on Rivada's payroll.

Libertas chief Declan Ganley is also chief executive of Rivada, a telecommunications company. Mr Ganley has said that the company has only been involved in domestic rescue and disaster operations, and helping US military bodies such as the National Guard and the Coastguard.

The Yes camp has urged Libertas to make its donors and accounts public, saying it could not have raised its money so quickly with domestic donors only.

Opposition Fine Gael MP Lucinda Creighton said earlier this month: "The businesses of Ganley and [aviation millionaire Ulick] McEvaddy are heavily dependent on contracts from the State Department, the Pentagon and US government agencies. These men are a lot less concerned about Irish sovereignty than they are about the potential hit to their own personal business interests."

Absolute lunacy

But her comments were roundly dismissed by both Mr Ganley and Mr McEvaddy.

Mr Ganley was reported by Ireland's Sunday Independent on 1 June as saying it is a "little rich" that governing and opposition parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, "are trying to lecture us about raising money - their records aren't squeaky clean. They set the rules up and we are in total compliance with their rules. We have a huge number of business donors who want to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation."

Mr McEvaddy said Ms Creighton's comments were "rantings."

Meanwhile, responding to Mr Jouyet's comments, a Libertas spokesperson said they were "absolute lunacy."

"Our funding came from entirely within Ireland" he told EUobserver, suggesting that Mr Jouyet should take a "complaint of that nature" up with the Pentagon.

Libertas to date has not made its accounts public but the spokesperson said that as soon Ireland's Standards in Public Office Commission requests a copy it will make them available.

EU image remains high in Ireland

Meanwhile, as the EU continues to digest the implications of Ireland's no vote, its latest EU-wide opinion survey conducted between March and May of this year showed that Europe's image remains positive in Ireland.

A Eurobarometer poll published on Tuesday (24 June) put the country second only to Romania for respondents saying that the Union conjured up a positive image (65%).

In addition, 73 percent of Irish respondents said membership of the EU was "a good thing."

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