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6th Dec 2019

Ireland's commissioner under fire for 'poor' EU treaty campaign

The leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, has accused Irish EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy of "arrogance" for his public revelations that he had not read the Lisbon Treaty and for a visit to the US just ahead of the referendum in Ireland.

"We have to ask Mr Barroso what kind of people he has in his commission, particularly if you have someone acting as the deregulation Pope in Europe who then goes home and says he hasn't read the treaty and doesn't understand it," Mr Schultz told reporters on Tuesday (17 June).

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He was reacting to several statements of Mr McCreevy, who is in charge of internal market in the 27-member-strong European Commission, ahead of the only popular vote on the new EU reform treaty in Ireland held last week, in which the Irish rejected the document.

The commissioner admitted a lack of knowledge of details of the treaty in an interview with the EUobserver, saying he had only read most of a summary of the document.

"I would predict that there won't be 250 people in the whole of the 4.2 million population of Ireland that have read the treaties cover-to-cover. I further predict that there is not 10 percent of that 250 that will understand every section and subsection," he said.

"But is there anything different about that?" said the commissioner, adding: "Does anyone read the finance act?" referring to the lengthy documents he drew up when he was finance minister in Ireland.

Mr Schultz said he was "particularly disappointed" by such remarks, as well as by Mr McCreevy's visit to the States four days before the vote. "That is an arrogance that we cannot put up with," he added.

Moreover, the German Socialist leader criticised the EU executive for tabling proposals on rising oil prices the day after - rather than before - the referendum in Ireland, saying he was "amazed" that it had happened.

"There is little passion for European integration, [but] there is passion against Europe. The pro-Europeans need to look to themselves. You cannot allow the No to win because the Yes is not doing anything."

Both the commission and Slovenia, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, will on Wednesday brief MEPs on the expected proceedings at summit of the bloc's leaders. The summit, which begins on Thursday, is to give the first initial response to what impact the Irish No will have on the Union's further proceedings.

In his own reaction to the verdict delivered by his fellow Irish citizens, commissioner McCreevy said: "We should remember that Ireland is not alone in being unable to secure a popular endorsement of a European Treaty. As politicians this is something we need to learn from."

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