Democrat September-October 2002 (Number 65)
Strong advice to Ireland
In an important development in Ireland's debate on its second Nice Treaty referendum, Mr Tjerk Westerterp, the Netherlands Foreign Minister who signed Ireland's Accession Treaty with the EEC in 1972, as well as the Accession Treaties with the UK and Denmark at the same time, has called on the Irish people to vote No to Nice in the Government's Re-run of the Nice Treaty referendum proposed for later October.
"I was proud of the Irish people having voted in majority No at the first referendum on Nice," writes Mr Westertorp in a letter in the "Irish Times," Monday 9 September. "As a Dutchman and citizen of the European Union, I sincerely do hope that we may continue to be be proud of Ireland. A No vote will not be a vote against Europe. On the contrary!"
Mr Westerterp was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands from 1971 to 1973. He was Vice-President of the European Parliament from 1967 to 1971. In his letter he writes:
"In my opinion the Nice Treaty is - on balance - a bad treaty. The heads of state and government failed when they negotiated this Treaty. Especially, the negotiators did not succeed in realising their aim, which was to prepare the institutions of the European Union for the forthcoming extension of our Union with ten or more new member-states."
Mr Westerterp's letter is further evidence that it is Ireland's advocates of a No vote to the Nice Treaty who are the "good Europeans" on this occasion, that Nice is not necessary for EU enlargement - which can take place on the basis of the individual Accession Treaties with the Applicant countries, as Messrs Prodi and Giscard d'Estaing have said - and that by voting No to the Nice Re-run, the Irish people, in Mr Westerterp's words, have the unique opportunity of preventing Europe's democratic deficit from remaining "for eternity."
From our correspondent in Ireland