Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Opinion

Fiscal treaty - taking the EU in the wrong direction

  • 'Under the ESM treaty Ireland is obligated to make capital contributions of up to €11,145,400,000 which is the equivalent to approximately one third of the total Irish tax revenue for 2011' (Photo: Wayne Lam (Ramius))

As an Irish legislator and citizen I keep asking myself, would it not be absurd if Irish voters were to vote in the 31 May Fiscal Compact Referendum in favour of imposing austerity rules on ourselves in order to get future access to a proposed permanent Eurozone loan fund when the separate but “complementary” treaty establishing that fund is arguably illegal under EU law, unconstitutional in Ireland and has not yet come into force and indeed may never do so.

On 9 March I wrote to the Taoiseach, (The Irish Head of Government), the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Foreign Affairs detailing some of these very serious concerns. I have received no reply to this correspondence beyond the usual standard acknowledgement of receipt of the communication. I have now been left with no other option but to initiate legal proceedings challenging the Government on fundamental aspects of the both the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (Fiscal Compact) Treaties.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

I believe that both treaties raise serious legal difficulties both at the level of EU treaty law and Irish Constitutional law. My primary democratic concern as both a citizen and as an elected public representative is the integrity of the Irish Constitution and the EU treaties which now form such an important part of our constitutional framework. I believe that the matters that I seek the clarification and assistance of the Court on are of crucial importance not only for the citizens of this country but for the future of the EU.

My contention is that the particular Stability Mechanism being set up under the ESM Treaty is in breach of Article 29.4.4 of the Constitution of Ireland under which “Ireland affirms its commitment to the European Union within which the member states of that Union work together to promote peace, shared values and the well being of their peoples”. The proposed stability mechanism seems on the face of it to permit Member States to work not in solidarity and togetherness, but rather towards separation and exclusiveness.

This is because it allows only some Member States - and indeed only some members of the Eurozone rather than all of them - to participate in an arrangement which will clearly have implications for all.

I am asking the Court to examine the legality of the amendment of Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) before any further action is taken by Government to approve that amendment. That amendment permits the establishment of a “stability mechanism” that would be able to grant financial assistance “subject to strict conditionality”. That amendment is being adopted under the so called “simplified revision procedure” which I believe is legally wrong. My argument is that the changes being proposed are so fundamental they should go through the ordinary revision procedure to ensure proper democratic scrutiny. They also require the approval of the Irish people in a referendum.

I am also asking the Court to consider whether the ESM treaty is in breach of existing EU treaty principles which have been approved by the Irish people in previous referendums and which are now therefore part of our law.

In addition I am asking the Court to decide whether the State can ratify the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism without first having the approval of the people in a referendum.

The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union signed on 2 March 2012 is intertwined with the ESM Treaty. They each depend on the other. Therefore if I am right in my belief that the ESM Treaty is unlawful then there is in my opinion a serious question over the validity of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union.

And the implications for Ireland are vast, given its current economic situation. Under the ESM treaty Ireland is obligated to make capital contributions of up to €11,145,400,000 in various forms of capital to the new permanent €500 billion bailout fund that is to be set up. In Ireland’s case, this is the equivalent to approximately one third of Government Tax Revenue for 2011.

I believe that my application to the Irish courts is just one more manifestation of a growing concern within the EU about developments towards a political union for the Eurozone along the lines of what President Sarkozy has termed “A Federation for the Eurozone and a Confederation for the EU as a whole” It is not a direction that I want the EU to take and I am sure that I am not alone.

The writer is an independent member of the Irish parliament, the Dail, for Donegal South West

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Twenty five EU leaders sign German-model fiscal treaty

Germany's vision of an EU of fiscally prudent states held in check by tight budgetary laws and the threat of legal action came a step closer on Friday when 25 leaders signed a new fiscal treaty.

Irish to vote as treaty is outside normal EU structures

The drafters of the fiscal discipline treaty tried to ensure it would not trigger an Irish referendum but a fact beyond their control - that it was outside EU structures - means Irish people will get to vote on it.

Irish referendum: anger, fear and some hope

There is no way back to the old, protective (and often even corrupt) national structures. But this does not mean, that we have to give up the principles, procedures and practices of modern democracy. In contrary, writes Bruno Kaufmann.

Letter

Letter from the EESC on per diem article

The European Economic and Social Committee defends the system of "per diem" payment to its members for the work they do, as they recieve no attendance fees or salaries.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Facebook has to answer some tough questions about Libra

German MEP and member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Markus Ferber, warns of four separate threats from Facebook's Libra. A good moment to kick off the debate would be this week's G20 summit.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us