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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 September 2009

Socialist Party MEP denounces "campaign of fear" on Lisbon Treaty

Speaking in the European Parliament, Irish Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins opposed the nomination of Jose Manuel Barroso for re-election as President of the EU commission and discussed the debate on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland. Joe was only given one minute to speak. Afterwards Joe issued the following statement.
Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party Ireland, speaking at the European CWI school, photo Bob Severn

Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party Ireland, speaking at the European CWI school, photo Bob Severn

"THE PRESIDENT of the European Commission, Mr Barroso, and his commission have been interfering in the debate in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, which is to be voted on in a referendum on 2 October. Mr Barroso has cynically abused the Commission's resources to work for a Yes vote.

For the past weeks, Commission employees have been visiting schools all over Ireland, speaking of the benefits of the European Union for Ireland. This is a cynical means of sending a message to parents that they should vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty. A senior civil servant of the commission, the secretary general of the commission in fact, openly participated in public rallies of organisations calling for a Yes vote.

The left in Ireland is in favour of the widest democratic debate on the Lisbon Treaty and we are fully prepared to debate with any of the political groups around Europe, but it is a gross abuse of taxpayers' funds and of democratic procedures for the commission to intervene in a one sided fashion in the way it has done in Ireland.

Unfortunately, the Irish government and many of the establishment organisations calling for a Yes vote are relying on a campaign of fear to pressurise the Irish people to support Lisbon. Basing themselves on anxiety among most people about the current economic crisis in Ireland, they are threatening further economic catastrophe if Lisbon is not passed and encouraging people to vote Yes for jobs and the economy.

It is also an extremely unbalanced debate, with strong media bias towards the Yes side and big business funding for the Yes campaign on a massive scale. I believe that the Yes campaign will spend ten times as much money on the campaign as the 'No' side.

The Lisbon Treaty advances the agenda of the economic and political establishment in Europe - of the major corporations, the right wing political parties, the military and the armaments industry. It is hostile to the interests of working people.

Lisbon seriously diminishes the democratic leverage of ordinary citizens in the EU, facilitates further privatisation of public services like health and education, institutionalises attacks by the European Court of Justice on workers' rights and gives a huge impetus to militarisation and the armaments industry. That is why we are opposed to it.

The reappointment of Mr Barroso as President of the EU commission will motivate us to redouble our efforts over the next two weeks to secure a No vote. Europe has had enough of Mr Barroso's neo-liberal agenda."

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