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Ireland’s EU veto

Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister is on record as saying that France will use the presidency of the Council of Ministers in the EU to, effectively, change Ireland’s low corporate tax rate.

The Irish Government says this cannot happen: Ireland has a veto and will use it, therefore the Irish position is safe.

Mr. Barroso has made placatory noises on the same issue. (In fact he has started the process of undermining the Irish “veto”).

What is the reality?

It is to be found in the occasion when Ireland used its veto and was ignored.

This happened on 15th March 2006. The issue was the adoption by the Council of Ministers of what became Directive 2006/24/EC. Ireland voted against its adoption, casting a veto thereby. Ireland’s veto was effective if, as was Ireland’s view, the issue fell within “the 3rd Pillarâ€?. Otherwise it was not.

The issue was driven by Charles Clarke, the UK minister. His brief in the UK was police and security. He tied the issue to the bombing of London. Issues such as that are 3rd Pillar issues. The Council adopted the proposal as a 1st Pillar issue, basing it on Article 95 of the EC Treaty. Ireland disagrees with this and its opinion is shared by the European Data Protection Supervisor.

Ireland has challenged the legal base for the adoption of Directive 2006/24/EC in the European Court of Justice. The case is pending. If Ireland is successful the Directive will be struck down.

(Mr. Barroso was president of the Commission in 2006).

Surely tax is more important than privacy?

Wrong question.

In 2006 the question was, is Ireland more important than the UK?

Now the question is, is Ireland more important than France?

Words matter.

Mr. Barroso’s definition of a veto is not a veto in Europe. Therefore it is not a veto.

I do not think anyone ever defined “3rd Pillar” and we now see the consequences of allowing woolly speech where precision was required.

One Trackback

  1. By McGarr Solicitors » Devaluation on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

    […] A small state in the EU has no veto if the Commission wishes to deny it a veto. […]