Tuesday, 31 January 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
378. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the feasibility or otherwise of the EU pressing on with its efforts to adopt the current EU constitution; if an amended EU constitution should be negotiated; the implications for the Irish Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2872/06]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Following the “No” votes in France and the Netherlands, the European Council in June of last year decided to instigate a period of reflection on the EU constitution and the future of Europe. This issue will be reviewed during the current Austrian Presidency. EU Foreign Ministers are responsible for preparing this review.
The Government remains committed to the constitution and does not favour either selective implementation or any renegotiation of the text. The constitution is a balanced document and we are anxious to maintain that balance. Although there are many ideas in circulation concerning the fate of the constitution, no credible alternative scenario has yet gained significant support and most member states remain firmly committed to the constitution.
While not wishing to underestimate the significance of last year’s referendum results, it needs to be remembered that 13 member states have now ratified the constitution and we expect some others to follow suit during 2006. It remains our hope that the current period of reflection across the EU will help create the conditions for the future completion of the ratification process and for the constitution to be brought into force. I acknowledge, however, that this is unlikely to come about before 2007.
With regard to the implications for the Irish Constitution, the Deputy will be aware that Ireland intends to ratify the EU constitution by referendum and that the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill was published last May. In the absence of greater clarity at the European level, however, there is no intention to hold an early referendum to enable Ireland to ratify the EU constitution and, consequently, there are no plans to move the Bill to its Second Stage.
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