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The debate on next week’s referendum on the Fiscal Stability Treaty is in danger of becoming obscured by a plethora of issues that have nothing to do with the text of the treaty.
Many of those advocating a no vote have deliberately attempted to detract from the contents of the treaty by claiming that it relates to issues such as taxation. It does not.
The treaty is not about the range of issues that the no campaign would like it to be about. Neither does it prescribe a particular economic policy, either of the left or right. Rather it is an attempt to ensure that the eurozone member states act responsibly in balancing their budgets so as to avoid a repeat of the current financial crisis.
Yes, it does constitutionalise the concept of a balanced budget and gives a stronger legal basis to ensure that countries do not engage in reckless borrowing in the future. It is precisely because of such recklessness on the part of past Irish governments that we find ourselves in our current economic predicament. The adoption of the Fiscal Stability Treaty can only be of benefit to Ireland.
Furthermore, those advocating a no vote continue to deny the basic fact that only through ratification of the treaty will Ireland be guaranteed access to the European Stability Mechanism Fund. We can debate the need for a second bailout in the future and the availability of loans from other sources, but the fact remains that only a yes vote will assure the people of Ireland of guaranteed funding in the future.
This is a simple treaty that attempts to strengthen existing rules so as to prevent the errors of the past from reoccurring. It is based on pre-existing rules and concepts. For nearly 40 years the application of rules relating to the European Union has served Ireland well. Now is not the time to turn our back.
Declan J Walsh Lecturer in European Union Law
Faculty of Law
University College Cork
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