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Govt will resist changes to EU treaties

The Irish government will resist any move to change the EU treaties as a result of the upcoming Conference on the Future of the EU aimed at reforming in the European Union, according to an internal government memo seen by RTÉ News.

In the past significant changes to the EU treaties have required a referendum in Ireland.

The government will also involve citizens in Northern Ireland as part of a national dialogue on how the EU should be reformed, the memo states.

The Conference on the Future of Europe gets underway on 9 May and is expected to conclude in the first half of next year under the French presidency.

On 10 March the three main institutions, the European Commission, Council and Parliament, signed a Joint Declaration setting out what areas of the EU will be subject to reform.

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In March Ireland co-signed a letter with Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Malta, Austria, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic saying that the reform process “should not create legal obligations, nor should it duplicate or unduly interfere with the established legislative processes”.

The letter, described by the memo as a “non-paper”, or discussion document, was submitted in advance of the conference.

The idea of a year or two year long conference to revamp the EU was first raised by the French president Emmanuel Macron as a grassroots project.

While the project was sidelined by the Covid-19 pandemic, preparations are intensifying for the 9 May launch.

The government memo notes the “various inter-institutional rows” over how the process would be structured.

However, the memo says the government has welcomed the involvement of citizens through events and debates, and a multilingual digital platform.

The government is planning to build on the Citizens’ Dialogues on the future of Europe carried out between November 2017 and May 2018.

However, the memo notes that the global pandemic and the reality of Brexit taking effect means there is a need for “fresh thinking”.

The government will organise a series of regional workshops and consultations to allow a cross section of citizens to give their opinions on the EU’s future, with the process feeding into a national report that will set out Ireland’s position in the Conference.

This week the European Commission launched a multilingual digital platform for citizens across the EU, either individually or in groups, to register their views on EU reform.

The government memo says that, in the interests of costs, the EU platform should be promoted through the Department of Foreign Affairs rather than building an Irish-specific platform.

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