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News : Irish Last Updated: Sep 22, 2009 - 8:34:34 AM


Lisbon Treaty: Irish Referendum Commission confirms high public understanding of the key elements of Treaty
By Finfacts Team
Sep 21, 2009 - 4:52:54 AM

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Mr Justice Frank Clarke
Lisbon Treaty: There is high public understanding of the key elements of the Lisbon Treaty and nine out of ten voters now say they are likely to vote, according to research carried for the Irish Referendum Commission.

"Our research, the responses to our phone line, web site and published material suggest that voters have a good understanding of the main changes proposed. These include the increase in the number of decisions that would be taken by Qualified Majority Voting rather than unanimously, and the giving of more power to the European Parliament,” the chairman of the Commission Mr Justice Frank Clarke said on Sunday. “But there is still misunderstanding and confusion over some particular issues and we hope to address this during the remainder of the campaign.”

Overall the level of understanding of the Lisbon Treaty has continued to rise during the referendum campaign with 63 per cent of voters now saying they have at least some understanding of it.

This compares to 60 per cent who said they had some understanding of it in July, 44 per cent on the eve of polling day in June 2008 and just 21 per cent in April 2008. This latest opinion poll was conducted for the Referendum Commission last weekend by Behaviour & Attitudes.

Likelihood to vote is extremely high, with 72 per cent saying they are extremely likely to vote and 18 per cent saying they are quite likely to. So altogether, 90 per cent say they are quite or extremely likely to vote, compared to 78 per cent in a poll in May 2008, a similar time period before polling day.

Mr Justice Clarke said: “It is very encouraging to see public understanding rising, and the intention to vote being very high.”

He made the following points:

 

  • "The Lisbon Treaty is mainly concerned with changing the way the EU makes decisions, and it also affects some of its powers
  • If the Treaty is ratified, decisions in a number of areas would move from requiring unanimity to being decided by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). A full list of these issues, some of which are quite technical, is available on our website www.lisbontreaty2009.ie
  • The Irish Government sets Ireland’s minimum wage. The EU has no input into this nor will it have if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified
  • Claims that ratifying the Treaty will affect job levels are political claims about which people may have different views. The Treaty itself contains no provisions on this
  • The Commission has distributed a guide to the Treaty to 1.9 million homes in Ireland. So far 70,000 extended guides giving more detail have been distributed through public offices or the Referendum Commission’s phone line 1890 270970. The extended guide will answer most questions voters may have."

IBEC, the business says today that a survey of over 500 employers, which was carried out over recent weeks and includes companies from every part of the country and of every size, found that 90% of employers believe a Yes vote on Friday 2 October is very important/important in supporting foreign direct investment (FDI), 66% regard it as very important and 24% see it as important.

IBEC, which represents over 7,000 employers, said that a yes vote would send a very positive signal to European and international investors and was an essential step on the road to restoring Ireland's international reputation. It said that a yes vote was the right vote for jobs and the economy.


Five facts about foreign direct investment in Ireland:

  • Seven of the world's top 10 ICT companies and nine of the world's top 10 pharmaceutical companies have a base in Ireland
  • The total value of FDI when we joined the EU in 1973 was €17m, the figure today is €131billion
  • There are currently 994 foreign companies in Ireland providing 140,000 direct jobs and almost 300,000 jobs through sub suppliers and related services
  • These companies account for 85% of our manufacturing exports, spend €16 billion in our economy annually and account for 50% of our corporation tax take
  • There are 570 US companies based here and total investment by the US in Ireland is greater than the combined US investment in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), $146bn as against $116bn (Source: US Bureau Economic Analysis – 2008 stock of US investment abroad)

IBEC Director of EU and International Affairs Brendan Butler said:"Ireland has been very successful in attracting major investment from abroad, which in turn has led to the creation of many jobs. Being fully engaged with Europe is vital to ensure this continues. A yes vote will send a positive signal to foreign investors that Ireland is committed to being a key player in the world's most successful economic union.

"The scale of the economic crisis has highlighted how vulnerable a small, open economy like Ireland is, and the need for a strong Europe so we can together face the challenges ahead. It has crystallised the value of Europe, and reinforced the importance of Ireland’s reputation and strength within the EU.

"Our relationship with the US is of critical importance. There are currently 470 US companies operating in Ireland, which provide over 95,000 well paid jobs. These companies set up here because of our favourable tax rates, our well-educated dynamic English speaking workforce and, crucially, because of Ireland's constructive and engaged membership of the EU. A yes vote will remove the uncertainty that currently exists and will ensure that Ireland remains an attractive location for foreign investment,

"The concerns of voters in the last referendum have been addressed with robust legal assurances and a guaranteed Irish commissioner. The willingness of our EU partners to provide the guarantees on issues such as taxation, sovereignty, neutrality and social issues reaffirms their goodwill towards Ireland and their desire to see Ireland remain a full and active member the EU."

"The Treaty will reform how decisions are made in the EU so that Europe can remain an engine for economic growth and prosperity. It will enable the EU to responded faster to the challenges ahead, such as energy security, global health threats, the rise of India and China as economic forces, and climate change. This is vital for the success of business in Ireland."

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