The Last Irish Referendum on the EU?

The Irish Times leads with a proposal by the Fianna Fail/PD Government to amend the Irish Constitution to ratify the proposed EU Constitution. But in a controversial addition, the proposal, which was shown to Labour and Fine Gael, would make it easier for the Irish Government to cede sovereignty over certain decisions to the EU:

The Government’s draft, which has been seen by The Irish Times, if approved, would allow the State to agree in future to give up the national veto and extend the practice of majority voting in the areas of common foreign and security policy, EU financing, social policy, environment policy and family law.

Sinn Fein is not pleased.

More detail from the Irish Times below.

It would also allow the extension of majority voting – replacing the existing requirement for unanimity – in the areas of criminal law, currently the subject of EU legislation.

It explicitly allows for the State to agree, for example, to the creation of a European public prosecutor, a development which has been strongly opposed by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

Mr McDowell has said this proposal is part of the agenda of a “small but well positioned group of integrationists” which would undermine the common law system in Ireland and the UK.

It also allows for a future decision for Ireland to participate in “permanent structured co-operation” in defence.

This would permit EU states to act together on military operations, but Ireland would retain the right to opt in or out of any such missions.

The most sweeping proposal is to seek approval to sign up to a clause in the EU treaty – known as a passerelle clause. This would allow the 25 EU leaders to agree that almost all matters currently governed by unanimity can be decided by qualified majority in the future.