[Sinn Fein]

7 December 2000

Nice EU summit - Rapid Reaction Force marches us into Euro Army and away from neutrality, says Gerry Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking in advance of the EU Inter-Governmental Conference in Nice, has called on the Government to ``lay down a marker that our neutrality is not a commodity to be bartered out of existence''.

Mr Adams said:

``The Government is marching us into the Rapid Reaction Force - into a Euro Army and further away from neutrality.

``Over the next two days the Irish Government will participate in an EU inter-governmental conference in Nice that will entirely change the economic, political and military face of Europe - a  fact which few people in this country will be aware of as there has been almost no debate on the matter.  The only real debate which has taken place in the media surrounds whether Ireland will keep its single EU Commissioner. - something which is of little concern other than to the individual involved.

``The Nice Treaty will deal with enlargement, extended majority voting and the militarisation of the EU through agreement to the Rapid Reaction Force.  There will also be the seeds of a further treaty  leading to the establishment of an EU constitution superior in law to national constitutions and a European Court of Justice.

``In 1998, the Amsterdam Treaty itself committed the European Union to `common foreign and security policy' and `the progressive framing of a common defence policy'.  Despite undertakings not to abandon neutrality without a people's referendum, the Irish Government joined NATO's Partnership for Peace and last week, again without any prior consultation, pledged troops to the new EU Army - the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF).  In justification, Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen asserted that the RRF is not an army; EU Commission President Romano Prodi insists otherwise.  Commissioner Prodi's assertion is clearly at odds with the Government's position and most certainly in conflict with Irish neutrality.

``The second area of real concern is that the lack of democracy and accountability in Europe.  This week's conference will see ongoing attempts to create a two-tier EU through efforts by the larger countries to have stronger voting power at the Council of Ministers and to change the Amsterdam Treaty so that they can move ahead without the other countries.''

``The ongoing march towards an EU super-state and the loss of sovereignty, over-centralisation and the democratic deficit is something which should concern us all.

``Sinn Fein's attitude towards the European Union is one of critical engagement.  We are working towards creating a European Union which is representative of its people and which advances national democracy and economic and social justice.

``Sinn Fein:-   4 Wants political institutions in the European Union which are open, transparent and accountable; 4 Opposes the militarisation of the EU and the participation by Ireland in military alliances; 4 Is calling for real reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in order to keep the greatest number of farmers on the land; 4 Wants the reversal of policies which have almost destroyed our fishing industry.

4 Supports a pro-active environmental agenda, including a ban on sale and production of GM foods; 4 Demands the closure of Sellafield.''

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