The Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has no wish to impede or delay the accession of applicant states to the European Union.

The Treaty of Nice is unnecessary for enlargement, since the Treaty of Amsterdam provides a framework for up to 5 additional member states, and the detailed arrangements for further members can be worked out in the treaties of accession for those countries. There is no obstacle to the accession of all the present applicants, since treaties of accession have never been submitted to referendum as they do not diminish the powers of the Oireachtas or Government. Treaties of accession contain provisions for the alteration of the numbers of the Commission, European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee, and Committee of the Regions, and for the alteration of the number of votes allocated to states in the Council: these provisions account for some of the agenda which the Treaty of Nice addressed.

Many of the other provisions in the Treaty of Nice dealt with issues which do not raise any problems in terms of handing over power to the European level, and if they are felt to be urgent a treaty dealing with these questions could be quickly drafted and accepted by national parliaments. It is not even certain that all proposals for moves from unanimity to qualified majority voting require a constitutional referendum.

The decision of the Irish people to reject the Treaty of Nice should be respected, as the electoral register of 2002 will be very similar to that of 2001. At all previous referendums the people were assured that further transfers of power could only occur by unanimity: the Oireachtas should insist that the other members of the European Union live up to this guarantee enshrined in the Treaties.

It has recently been decided to call a Convention to plan the next stage of reform of the European institutions. The inadequate, rushed and confused procedure by which the Treaty of Nice was agreed upon has been commented on widely, and the more deliberate and coherent approach of drafting a new treaty (or constitution as some wish to call it) at the Convention and bringing it then to an intergovernmental conference may produce a more satisfactory result. The outstanding business from the Nice Treaty would obviously have to be considered as part of this process. It is of course necessary to associate the candidate countries with this discussion as it affects their interests and concerns, and they will have an opportunity to formally participate in the Convention, as they did not in the case of the Treaty of Nice.

The reason why Irish CND opposed the Treaty of Nice was that it proposed to expand the ties between Ireland and the military side of the European Union, which is linked to NATO institutions. A tie between Ireland and NATO conflicts with Ireland's traditional status of neutrality, which is in conformity with article 29 of the Constitution pledging Ireland to seek the pacific settlement of international disputes. The policy of neutrality has been undermined by previous decisions such as the decision to enter the Partnership for Peace without a referendum, and further erosion of neutrality is undesirable. Neutrality for Ireland has not meant a policy of non-engagement under any circumstances, but a position of non-alignment which does not tie Ireland into the expectations of other countries but leaves it free to help peacekeeping where the Government and D°il think it is appropriate. The definition of neutrality as the lack of a mutual defence commitment is not part of the traditional definition of Irish neutrality, being only introduced in the Foreign Affairs White Paper of 1996.

A tie with NATO links Ireland to an alliance whose strategy involves the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, two of the states possessing nuclear weapons being EU member states. The use of nuclear weapons was outlawed in almost all conceivable circumstances by an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996. A tie with the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France makes it more difficult to secure the ending of the civilian use of nuclear power, since nuclear warheads, even if not upgraded, need to be replaced periodically with radioactive material produced in dual-use (military/civilian) facilities.

February 2002

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