MEP attacks 'secret' EU

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The Independent Online

The "secret" workings of the European Union came under attack today by a Green Euro MP who warned that the views of the Irish people were being ignored. Irish MEP Patricia McKenna launched her attack in the wake of Commission President Romano Prodi's visit to Ireland yesterday when he made clear that the Nice Treaty would not be renegotiated.

The future of the Nice Treaty and of enlargement of the EU has been thrown into chaos by Ireland's shock rejection of the treaty in a referendum two weeks ago. But Mr Prodi made clear that legal ratification of the Nice Treaty was not necessary for enlargement to proceed.

Today Ms McKenna said: "We do not accept that member states are forging ahead with the ratification of the Nice Treaty despite the Irish vote. It seems like the Irish vote doesn't count. The people of Ireland don't count. They're going to forge ahead anyway.

"People right across the board throughout the EU are fed up with the way the EU is working. It works behind closed doors. It's secret and people have no say whatsoever in the direction Europe is going in," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

It would not be acceptable to have another referendum in Ireland on the same treaty, she said.

The evidence was that people in other EU countries would have rejected the treaty if they had been allowed a referendum, she claimed.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where governments are forging ahead with treaties that they know their people don't support and this has to be addressed."

Yesterday, after an hour–long meeting in Dublin with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, ex–Italian premier Mr Prodi said: "The Nice Treaty is the Nice Treaty.

"And you can't change a treaty that has been decided by all the countries."

Mr Prodi also maintained that there was still time for the Irish to ratify it in the face of the referendum outcome.

Today European Commission spokesman Jonathan Fall rejected Ms McKenna's views.

"These are utterly legitimate elected governments deciding in accordance with well known procedures on treaties and on matters of law.

"In some member states ratification of treaties takes place in parliament. In others, in the case of Ireland for the Treaty of Nice, by referendum. There's nothing behind closed doors about that.

"We have the opportunity of reuniting the European continent peacefully and democratically. I think people do understand that," he insisted.

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