Tuesday

14th Jul 2020

MEPs to ask US Congress about funding for Irish No vote

  • Ireland rejected the treaty in June, but the battle is now heating up for the European elections (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Parliament's delegation to the US will on its next trans-Atlantic visit ask Congress about allegations that the Irish anti-Lisbon Treaty campaign was funded out of America.

The parliament's political group leaders - the "conference of presidents" - made the decision on Thursday (25 September) following calls for transparency by the Irish and French governments and the European Commission.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The move also comes after Declan Ganley - an Irish businessman with US interests who ran the prominent No-vote lobby, the Libertas group - admitted loaning it €200,000 of his own money. Under Irish rules, donations must be capped at €6,348.

The conference of presidents decided not to set up its own commission of enquiry, leaving any investigation to Ireland's Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). But the parliament's administration will "regularly and closely monitor the situation."

Using language that puts Mr Ganley in an unsavoury light, the parliament statement noted that SIPO "enjoyed real investigative powers and that any proven misuse of funds ... could lead to sanctions, including of a criminal nature."

The leader of the Liberal group, Graham Watson, said he supported contacting the US Congress because Irish-American groups had funded the Irish terrorist group, the IRA, in the past.

The idea that Mr Ganley fronted a US plot to kill the Lisbon Treaty emerged when Irish media reported that his US firm, Rivada Networks, had a €200 million communications equipment contact with the Pentagon.

The French leader of the Green group in the European Parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, popularised the theory at the opening meeting of this week's plenary session in Brussels.

"The Irish press revealed that there possibly exists a link between the financers of the No campaign in Ireland and the Pentagon as well as the CIA ... If proved true, this would clearly show that there are forces in the US willing to pay people to destabilise a strong and autonomous Europe," he said.

"We stand on the side of those who strive for absolute transparency in all of these questions in order to keep Europe from suffering harm," parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering added.

No means no?

Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in June, with most No voters saying they lacked information on the treaty contents. Those who voted No were also concerned about threats to Irish neutrality, Europe's 'democratic deficit' and a weakening of Ireland's position in the European Union.

The main thrust of the treaty was to tidy up EU institutions after the 2004 round of enlargement and help create a robust EU foreign policy, its supporters say.

Mr Ganley is now campaigning around Europe to launch an anti-Lisbon political group in time for European Parliament elections in 2009. A second Irish referendum on Lisbon is not expected before late 2009.

"Libertas is obliged to communicate the details of its funding to the Irish authorities in 2009. Libertas will comply with this obligation," Mr Ganley said in response to what he called the parliament's "baseless allegations."

"This statement gives us grave concern for the state of democracy in Europe," he added. "Neither Libertas nor I have done anything illegal or wrong - this is interference in the electoral process in Ireland."

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

EU parliament chairs explain missing lobbyist meetings

MEPs in January 2019 agreed to a rule change in a bid for greater transparency. The rules included requiring committee chairs to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists. EUobserver spoke to six chairs, who haven't done so yet.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us