[Sinn Fein]

12 February 2001

EU action shows need for new approach to development of European Community

The Sinn Fein Vice-President and Chairperson of the Enterprise Trade & Investment Committee has said that the dangers of continuing down the  current road in the development of the European Community are highlighted by the response of the EU Commissioners to the very moderate Irish Budget.  Mr Pat Doherty MLA said:

``The creation of a single European market and the fast-approaching reality of a single European currency throw up many questions.

``Sinn Fein is not alone in expressing concern that EU economic policy and a `one size fits all' approach to the different economies of EU member statesdoes not lend itself to flexibility in the setting of different political and economic objectives of member states.

``In Ireland, Sinn Fein is committed to reunification.  This necessitates developing political, social AND economic unity. Within this context two different currencies on the island create many problems. Already the relative values of the Irish punt and sterling is having a negative impact on the Northern economy. The introduction of the Euro in 2002 in the 26 Counties will lead to increased economic divergence.

``Sinn Fein is also committed to realising social and economic justice in Ireland. To achieve this we need the freedom to pursue our own political and economic objectives. This requires flexibility in our ability to manage deficits, borrow money and set interest rates. Dependency on centralised economic planning runs contrary to this.  Sinn Fein is opposed to this model of EU economic integration. It will not create a federation of equals. We do not want to see economic policy dictated from an undemocratic European Central Bank.

``We can see in the south of Ireland that despite unprecedented surpluses, money has not been channelled into ending hospital waiting lists, social housing or educating our children. The Stability Pact agreed with our EU neighbours in tandem with the lack of a political will has directly narrowed the public expenditure agenda. The goal for Sinn Fein is Irish re-unification and a critical engagement with the EU.''

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