Speech by YFG President Patrick Molloy at Fine Gael Rally

 

Paddy Molloy, President YFG Source: http://yfg.ie/euref/?p=769

The following is a speech by Patrick Molloy, President of Young Fine Gael at the National Fine Gael Rally on Sunday 27th of May.

 

On the 31st of May we have an opportunity.

An opportunity to banish uncertainty and cast aside the doubt that has plagued the country for many years and could plague this generation for years to come unless we vote yes.

In voting yes on the 31st of May we continue on the path to recovery. A path where Young Irish Men and Women will look to Ireland for their future, no longer looking for opportunities to leave, but rather taking and creating opportunities here at home.

For generations of Irish men and women Thursday’s vote will determine their future. On March the 9th 2011 Fine Gael and Labour entered into Government and took it upon themselves to reconstruct our country and our economy. We are building a new beginning.

This treaty is the continuity and certainty that this country needs but most importantly it is the certainty that my Generation needs.

We must provide a basis for strong fiscal governance that does not lend itself to short term gain at the price of a generations future. People starting their careers will have the opportunity to progress and further their ambitions in a confident and competitive Ireland. An Ireland in which fiscal governance ensures our economy can grow in a stable way.

What is being advocated by others, constitutes an act of simple self-promotion, driven by political ambition. We have a real alternative of smart fiscal governance and an insurance policy which will generate investor confidence.

People keep talking about stimulus packages but in small open economies, building investment and jobs are the only stimulus packages which work, and work right now.

We have seen many large Multi-Nationals invest in Ireland and setup or expand here. 13,000 new jobs have been created since January 2011, since 2010 jobs numbers are up 20% and for the naysayers, in the same period job losses down 25%.

These are the jobs that young Irish people want and need. These are the places where the future job creators and innovators learn the skills that help build the indigenous Irish business of tomorrow. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Paypal, LinkedIn, Intel – job creators, innovators, inspirers who instil confidence in the Irish economy and hope in the minds of my friends and I. These companies believe in Ireland and believe in the workforce we are training.

Our strength has always resided in our work ethic, our ability & willingness to trade & our openness to the future. For generations gone by, Ireland has always depended on these strengths, for our generation these are supplemented by a complete willingness to be a part of a new beginning. We must build on this new beginning and not let a single opportunity pass our country by. For my generation, these opportunities are crucial.

Young people in Ireland are deeply committed to the future of Ireland, they are innovative and invested in fixing Ireland.

We have an opportunity to build this new beginning , to compete once again on a world stage, to build towards a sustainable future where the choices people make are not dictated by the fluctuations in our economic cycles but by their own free will.

Secure this New Beginning,

Secure this future.

Secure our future,

Vote yes

Great speech!

 

Memes, Cow’s and The Yes Vote

Staying up late on Facebook (admit it you do it to), I came across a conversation between two of my friends (Lucy and Fran in UCC YFG), who have obviously being concentrating on the upcoming Treaty Referendum on May 31st as much as their exam in the morning! They produced some great Memes from a conversation about canvassing at a mart and putting rug on a calf (I’m now informed they are called calf jackets – thanks Tom!) with a slogan on it! This is what the conversation produced! I wonder what else will come out of their exam riddled brains during the campaign!

Keep up the good work girls! Good luck in the exams also!

Why I am Voting Yes – For Stability

A number of people have asked me why I am voting yes in the upcoming referendum on the Stability Treaty (Fiscal Compact, whatever you want to call it!), so I have decided to do a series of posts on why I am voting Yes. Here is the first part of the series.

One of the main reasons I am voting yes to the 30th Amendment to the Constitution on May 31st is to ensure Ireland has stability in the future. If we do not have access to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) we put this at risk, in my view.

We are going through a tough time as a country at the moment, with the Troika (IMF, ECB and the EC) here telling us we have to cut spending and raising taxes to meet certain targets. We need to hit these to enable us to return to the markets.

If we do not accept this treaty we will not have access to the ESM, which will have more money available to us then the IMF.

While we will still have access to the IMF, we will not get the same level of funding as we did last time. It could mean a tougher time for us as citizens. UCD Economist Karl Whelan recently explained this on Morning Ireland

Ireland could apply to the IMF for funds. However, people need to  understand that the IMF has its procedures in which is assesses how much money it’s willing to lend to a country. How much money they’re normally willing to lend a country, depends upon what’s called the size of a country’s IMF Quota. They normally will lend maybe three, four, five times a country’s Quota. They’ve already loaned Ireland, fifteen times our Quota. So that is well beyond their normal behaviour. Now why did they do that? They explained why they did that. They said that because Ireland has this additional support from Europe, they think that they’re not in as much, in as risky a situation. So we are now talking about, in addition to those loans that we already have from the IMF, will they give us far more than that, because now instead of being one third of the current bailout, they would have to be all of what’s afterwards. Most likely in that situation, what the IMF would do is deem Ireland’s debt situation to be unsustainable. The only way I think that they would be willing to lend to us, is if they say oh yeah, these guys are not going to be able to pay back all their debts. So you will see the existing debts, the sovereign bonds that we’ve issued to private investors, will at that point most likely be restructured. At that point they may be willing to think about, after a default, and we are shut out of financial markets for a number of years, they may be willing to give us a small amount of money.

So that means we have the possibility of a default if we do not vote Yes. Also possibility of a default means that we have a chance of having more austerity then less. As Karl Whelan again pointed out on Morning Ireland,

I think a most likely outcome of a No Vote that isn’t in any way reversed, and we just say we don’t want to borrow from the ESM, the most likely outcome from that is a large scale sovereign default, followed by possibly a small IMF Programme that would see the country have to run a zero budget deficit very very quickly. In other words, far more Austerity. So people who think they’re Voting No because they don’t like the Austerity, need to understand that it is more than likely that a No Vote would being us more Austerity in the near term than a Yes Vote.

So to avoid this scenario and to provide stability to the Irish Economy in Future, I am voting Yes on May 31st.

Lisbon Art

Lisbontreaty,voteyes,artwork

This is artwork is by an Irish Artist who has licensed the work to Generation Yes Cork for use during the Yes Campaign. I like it.

Lisbonne: douze points

12 reasons from European Commission Vice President Margot Wallström on why Ireland should pass the Treaty of Lisbon

1. First, the Lisbon Treaty will make the EU more democratic. How? In the first place,by giving more power to the people. For the first time, EU citizens will have the official right to petition the Commission to launch new initiatives. This puts real power in the hands of any citizen who can organise the support of just one million people in a significant number of EU countries.

2. The Lisbon Treaty also gives more power to members of national parliaments – including the TDs and Senators here. They will have greater powers to challenge any Commission proposal they consider goes against the principle of subsidiarity.

3. The Treaty also gives more power to Parliamentarians. The directly elected European Parliament will increase its law-making powers, because “co-decision” will be extended into new policy areas. So European elections will become even more important in deciding the future direction of policy-making.

4. The Lisbon Treaty will extend the rights of EU citizens by making the EU a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, and by giving legal force to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. These include the right to life, to education, to freedom of thought, to equality before the law… and workers’ rights such as the right of collective bargaining and collective action.

So I don’t see how anyone can claim that the Lisbon Treaty undermines the rights of workers! This is not at all the case, as I see it.

5. The Lisbon Treaty will make it easier for the EU to make policy in areas that the public wants us to intervene: eg in areas like climate change and energy security. For the first time, these will explicitly become matters of EU responsibility. EU countries will be able to get their collective act together in cutting greenhouse gas emissions – and in talking with one voice to Russia and our other suppliers of gas and oil.

6. Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the EU will be able to deliver results more effectively – not only on energy and climate change but in other key policy areas too – because it can take decisions more easily. This is because majority voting will become the general rule, rather than unanimity.

A Union of 27 countries can literally be paralysed by the unanimity requirement, because there will almost always be one member state opposed to one or another aspect of any given proposal.

7. However, unanimity will still be required in fields such as taxation– which I know are very sensitive matters for Ireland.In important areas of national sovereignty, the national veto will be kept.

8. The extension of majority voting into new areas will make Europe more secure – by enabling the EU to deal more efficiently with terrorism, cross-border crime, illegal immigration and human trafficking. But EU action on these matters will be taken under the democratic control of the European Parliament, which will take the decisions jointly with the Council of Ministers.

9. The Lisbon Treaty will make EU decision-making more transparent. The Council of Ministers will have to hold its meetings in public when enacting new EU policies or legislation.

I don’t know whether these meetings will make exciting television – but at least any interested citizen will be able to watch his or her own Government Minister taking European decisions.

It will no longer be possible to portray “Brussels” as an alien monster grabbing power from national governments!

On the contrary, people will more clearly see and judge how different Ministers balance their national interests with the interests of the whole of Europe.

10. Also for the sake of efficiency, a President of the Council will be elected for up to five years. This will give the EU a more stable system of leadershipthan the current six-monthly rotation.

11. The Lisbon Treaty will help the EU to act with greater unity on the world stage. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will also be the European Commissioner for External Relations.This will make it easier to ensure that our aid, trade, development and otherforeign policies all pull in the same direction.

12. Finally, the Lisbon Treaty ensures that defence remains a matter of national sovereignty, so that each Government is free to decide what forces, if any, it will commit to any particular operation. The Treaty willtherefore not compromise Ireland’s neutrality (nor Sweden’s).

Clearly, we live in a dangerous world, and EU governments see the need for a collective response to some security issues. For example, sending EU peacekeeping forces to some of the world’s trouble spots.

Chad and Darfur are cases in point, and Ireland has – I believe – taken a very active and honourable role in this EU action.

But Ireland’s Constitution states that it cannot join a common European defence arrangement unless it is approved by a separate referendum of the Irish people. So the bogeyman of a “militaristic EU” sweeping young Irish men and women off to war is a complete myth. Nothing in the Lisbon Treaty is going to touch the triple lock on the deployment of Irish peacekeepers.

Ladies and gentlemen, there you have my “douze points” on the Lisbon Treaty. The Reform Treaty

Full remarks here

Treaty of Lisbon Part 2: Making the EU more democratic

The Treaty of Lisbon makes changes to the structure of the European Union to try and negate the democratic deficit that exists in its structures. The treaty does this in a number of ways.

  • Increased Role for the European Parliament
  • An explicit role for National Parliaments
  • The introduction of citizens’ initiative
  • Transparency in the Council of Ministers
  • Defines EU Competences

Lets look at each of these points in turn.

Increased Role for the European Parliament

Parliament’s powers have been gradually extended with every new treaty. The Treaty of Lisbon is no exception, giving more powers in relation to lawmaking, budget and international agreements.

The ‘co-decision procedure’ (renamed ‘ordinary legislative procedure’) has been extended to several new fields. This puts the Parlaiment on equal footing with the Council of Ministers. These new fields, where previously the parliament had little or no powers, include legal immigration, penal judicial cooperation (Eurojust, crime prevention, alignment of prison standards, offences and penalties), police cooperation (Europol) and some aspects of trade policy and agriculture.

The new treaty confirms the established practice of working with a multiannual financial framework, which Parliament will have to approve in future. It also abolishes the current distinction between ‘compulsory’ expenditure (like direct income support to farmers) and ‘non-compulsory’ expenditure, with the result that Parliament and the Council will determine all expenditure together. This innovation creates a new balance between the two institutions when approving the EU’s budget.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament’s assent will be required for all international agreements in fields governed by the ordinary legislative procedure.

An explicit role for National Parliaments

For the first time National Parliaments are recognised and given a role in the operation of the EU, apart from transcribing EU legislation into national laws. A new clause clearly sets out the rights and duties of the national parliaments within the EU. It deals with their right to information, the way they monitor subsidiarity, mechanisms for evaluating policy in the field of freedom, security and justice, procedures for reforming the treaties, and so on.

The parliaments gain a new power to enforce the principle of subsidiarity within the EU. Subsidiarity means that – except in the areas where it has exclusive powers – the EU acts only where action will be more effective at EU-level than at national level. Any national parliament may flag a proposal for EU action which it believes does not respect this principle. This triggers a two-stage procedure:

  • if one third of national parliaments consider that the proposal is not in line with subsidiarity, the Commission will have to re-examine it and decide whether to maintain, adjust or withdraw it
  • if a majority of national parliaments agrees with the objection but the Commission decides to maintain its proposal anyway, the Commission will have to explain its reasons, and it will be up to the European Parliament and the Council to decide whether or not to continue the legislative procedure.

So this yellow card procedure can highlight where parlaiments believe the EU is over legislating. (we have the dutch to thank for this one. It was one of their “red lines”

The introduction of citizens’ initiative

There are already many ways in which European citizens can find out about and take part in the political process of the EU. The newest of these is the citizens’ initiative, whereby one million citizens, from any number of member countries, will be able to ask the Commission to present a proposal in any of the EU’s areas of responsibility. The practical details of this initiative will be worked out once the Treaty of Lisbon takes effect.

I think will be a mainly only thing. I cannot imagine people posting something to a million people across the EU. It will be something like the the UK Prime Miniter’s E-Petition which is written in opensource code.

Transparency in the Council of Ministers

National parliaments and citizens will now be able to see which decisions have been taken by which national ministers in the Council, since all its deliberations on legislative matters will be made public.

Yes finally! We get to find out what happens behind the closed doors in Brussels apart from all the handshaking which they always show on TV!

Defines EU Competences

The Lisbon Treaty sets out exactly what areas the EU can act in! In the Reform Treaty the policy areas of the EU are classified into one of the following three areas:

  • Exclusive competence: In this area the EU has exclusive competence to make directives. It also has exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union.
  • Shared competence: The competence to legislate in this area is shared between the member states and the EU.
  • Supporting competence: Here the EU is allowed to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States.

They are set out below.

Exclusive competence

  • customs union
  • the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market
  • monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro
  • the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy
  • common commercial policy

Shared competence

  • internal market
  • social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • economic, social and territorial cohesion
  • agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources
  • environment
  • consumer protection
  • transport
  • trans-European networks
  • energy
  • area of freedom, security and justice
  • common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty

Supporting competence

  • protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection
  • administrative cooperation

Wow, long lists I know.

If you want to read the full text of the treaty, a hard copy will cost you €42 from the EU Bookshop. Alternatively you can download the PDF (English or Irish). The HTML version is availibe on EUR-LEX (English)

Treaty of Lisbon Reasons for a Yes Vote. Part 1

Here is Part one of my series of posts calling for a Yes vote to the treaty of Lisbon. This is an over view. Each subsequent part will deal with a specific issue.

The treaty [of Lisbon] will improve the way the EU works, it will adapt the EU’s institutions to a union of 27, it will ensure the voice of Europe’s nations is heard more loudly in foreign policy. It brings national parliaments into day-to-day decision making to strengthen subsidiarity, and it focuses the EU on the big external challenges from climate change to migration.

– David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary, Speaking in the House of Commons Deabte on the Treaty

The case made by [William Hague] that the treaty is unnecessary and somehow threatens the sovereignty of the United Kingdom is frankly absurd. An EU of 27 member states and growing can’t operate on the same basis that only just served the needs of an EU of 15 states. Arguments for trimming the bureaucracy and making the institutions less cumbersome ought to be self-evident.

Edward Davey, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Speaking in the same debate

The above quotes highlight one of the major reasons that the Treaty of Lisbon is essential to the continued operation of the European Union. It will limit the size of the commission and the Parliement insuring that they will continue to operate satisfactorily.

Some of the key issues in the Treaty of Lisbon are:

  • A Charter of Fundamental Rights
    The Fundamental Rights Charter, proclaimed by the EU in 2000, would be made legally binding.
  • A merged foreign representative post
    The External Relations Commissioner post merged into the current seat held by Javier Solana.
  • Extended role for the parliaments
    The directly elected European Parliament gains power by extending the codecision procedure to many areas. National parliaments will also have extended roles.
  • Restructured EU policy areas
    Double majority voting in the European Council expanded to more areas from 2014 on.
  • A President of the European Council
    Would replace the currently rotating Presidency of the European Council. 2.5 year term.
  • A single legal personality
    Enables the EU to sign international treaties.

These will leed to a more democratic and transparent Europe, a more efficient Europe, a Europe of rights and values, freedom, solidarity and security and give Europe a clear voice in relations with its partners worldwide.

To paraphrase David Miliband I believe this treaty is good for Ireland and good for Europe.

I will try and do one post a day if time allows