Sunday

28th Aug 2016

Irish to vote as treaty is outside normal EU structures

  • A poster protesting the terms of the EU-IMF bailout programme - the referendum may be held in May or June (Photo: informatique)

The drafters of the fiscal discipline treaty did everything they could to make sure it would not trigger a referendum in Ireland but a fact beyond their control - that it was a deal outside EU structures - means Irish people will get to vote on it.

The attorney general decided a referendum on the fiscal treaty was necessary because "it is a unique instrument outside the EU treaty architecture" said Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, when announcing the legal opinion on Tuesday (28 February).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU treaty architecture is outlined in the Irish Constitution which lists the international treaties that Ireland has signed up to including all the various EU treaties.

Article 29.4 of the Constitution states that: "No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities."

But the article does not refer to other agreements such as intergovernmental agreements, like the Fiscal Compact is.

Ireland's decision took its EU partners by surprise, particularly as the German Europe affairs minister Michael Link last week admitted that the fiscal discipline treaty had been designed to avoid a referendum in the country.

Germany, which alone pushed for the fiscal compact enshrining a balanced budget rule into national law, said it respects the "sovereign" decision of Ireland.

The Irish government for its part will have a herculean task persuading people to vote Yes, with the poll likely to be as much on other questions - such as the extent to which citizens should be bailing out the banks - as much as on the treaty itself.

Meanwhile, a No vote would mean Ireland would not have access to the permanent eurozone bailout fund, the ESM, a fact would likely make markets nervous and lead to conditions where it would need to avail of just such a fund.

A date for the referendum has not been set yet, but the Irish Times reports that a day in May or June is being considered. Kenny is due, along with other EU leaders - except those of the UK and the Czech Republic - to sign the treaty on Friday morning.

The decision to take the intergovernmental path was prompted by the UK's refusal to condone a full EU treaty change at a December Summit.

However it has raised all sorts of difficult legal questions such as the extent to which EU institutions may be used in an intergovernmental agreement.

The resulting text does make use of the European Commission and European Court of Justice but in a legally round-about way. This has prompted concern in London which fears that the fiscal treaty signatories may be abusing this grey area - an issue that will be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey