EC president campaigns for Lisbon Treaty Yes vote

The president of the European Commission will attempt today to convince voters to accept the Lisbon Treaty.

The president of the European Commission will attempt today to convince voters to accept the Lisbon Treaty.

Jose Manual Barroso will address a plenary session of the National Forum on Europe to call for a Yes vote in the referendum on June 12.

Ireland is the only country in Europe to hold a vote on the proposed Treaty which will replace the failed EU constitution.

The event, at Dublin Castle, is one of a series of plenary sessions and regional public meetings being organised by the Forum in the run-up to the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon (EU Reform Treaty).

It follows a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, during which she urged Irish voters to accept the Lisbon Treaty.

Ms Merkel told the Forum that the proposed reforms would mean the European Union would continue to flourish.

She added that if ratified, the Treaty would enable states to challenge major issues together with the weight of 500 million people behind them.

Following Mr Barroso’s address in Dublin Castle, the debate will be opened up to Forum Members for their questions and comments.

The Forum is made up of representatives of all the political parties and forty five national organisations, including the social partners and the Churches, as well as groups campaigning for and against the Treaty.

During Mr Barroso’s trio, he will be called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to confirm that the Lisbon Reform Treaty will copper-fasten Ireland’s veto in tax matters.

Speaking ahead of today’s visit, the Taoiseach said he expected their discussions at Government Buildings would cover taxation.

“The position on taxation in the EU is clear,” said Mr Ahern.

“Decisions on taxation must be unanimous.

“Any country, including Ireland, can exercise a veto. This is reinforced by the Reform Treaty, and I will, today, ask President Barroso to confirm this unequivocally.”

The Taoiseach said the notion that the Reform Treaty would pave the way for imposition of a Common Consolidated Corporation Tax Base (CCCTB) was unfounded: the Reform Treaty maintains the unanimity rule on taxation matters in the existing Treaties.

Describing the CCCTB concept as a “red herring” in the Reform Treaty debate, the Taoiseach said that Ireland, along with many other Member States, is strongly opposed to CCCTB.

“There is no proposal on the table, and if there were, Ireland, along with many other Member States, would oppose it and veto it,” he continued.

“It is just a distraction, but if people really are worried about it, they should vote ”Yes“ for a Reform Treaty which ensures we keep our veto.”

A government spokesman added that discussions between the Taoiseach and the President are also expected to focus on the ratification of the Reform Treaty, developments in the World Trade Organisation and the European Commission’s proposals on climate change and energy.

Before addressing the National Forum on Europe, Mr Barroso will also have a working lunch with Tanaiste and Finance Minister, Brian Cowen and hold discussions with the social partners.

On Friday the EU President, who last visited Ireland in June 2005, will attend an IBEC Business Breakfast in Dublin, before travelling to Cork for engagements at UCC and Cork Docklands.

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