Politicians' roadshow to explain EU Reform Treaty

An Oireachtas Committee is going on a national tour to explain the EU Reform Treaty to the public.

An Oireachtas Committee is going on a national tour to explain the EU Reform Treaty to the public.

The Joint Committee on European Affairs, which is a watchdog on EU developments, will hold advertised public meetings across the country in 2008.

The all-party body is made up of 17 TDs and Senators representing Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Greens and Independents.

Committee chairman Bernard Durkan said the initiative is to stimulate awareness among the general public of the Treaty and its provisions.

“We want to give as many people as possible an opportunity to debate the issues and to by fully up-to-speed on its detail before they are asked to vote.

“This is primarily an informational exercise since our role is not to seek to promote a particular point of view or to influence the vote.

“However, we have considerable knowledge and expertise in EU affairs within our membership and we feel it will be helpful to put that at the disposal of the general public in all parts of the country.”

The EU Treaty was signed in Lisbon today by leaders of the 27 member states.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the Treaty an important milestone for the EU.

“It allows the Union to move from a period of introspection to face outward to the real challenges and opportunities we face,” Mr Ahern said.

“It is time now to focus on what it is we want our Union to do and on getting results, rather than institutional questions.”

European Affairs Committee members will speak at the regional meetings alongside invited experts.

The body is prioritising its work on the Treaty between now and the referendum and is expected to publish an interim report on the charter early in the New Year.

The committee said it will eventually issue a formal opinion on the Treaty which will be presented to the Government.

It will also provide information on the Treaty via its website and invite the public to take part in an on-line debate in the coming months.

Mr Durkan added: “The committee’s public meetings are giving people throughout the country the opportunity not only to observe but to participate in the political process in a very direct way.”

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