Anthony Coughlan reports: "According to the Irish Times news report(…), a meeting is taking place in Brussels today between the entire EU Commission and Mr Martin Territt, Head of the EU Commission Representation in Ireland, to discuss how the Commission can influence Irish opinion in the lead-in to Ireland's re-run of the Lisbon referendum next October. It is seemingly planned to spend some ¤2 million on advertisements for this purpose.(…)"
A few weeks ago the Irish Times carried an advertisement from the EU Commission Representation in Ireland seeking tenders for an advertising campaign in this country to "inform" people better about the EU. Accompanying press reports stated that this advertising campaign is to be specially targeted at women and young people over the next few months, as these are groups which predominantly voted No to Lisbon in Ireland's referendum last June, according to opinion polls."
It is well-known that the EU Commission is itself a highly self-interested party as regards the Lisbon Treaty, for the Treaty, which is a revamped version of the 2004 EU Constitution that was rejected by the French and Dutch peoples in referendums, would greatly increase the Commission's powers and functions and would provide it with many new areas of policy for which it would have the exclusive right of initiative as regards proposing European laws – something that must surely outrage any geuine democrat."
In late 2007 ago, in the lead-in to last year's Lisbon referendum, former Irish Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna and the undersigned complained to Ireland's statutory Broadcasting Complaints Commission about the EU Commission Office in Dublin spending 360,000 on a series of political advertisements on Irish community and local radio stations even though such broadcast advertiments are unlawful in this country, as they are in the UK and various other EU countries."
These EU Commission-sponsored advertisements ostensibly aimed to tell people about the existence of various sources of information on the EU, something that one could not reasonably object to – but they also contained highly loaded and tendentious statements about how much money Ireland had received from the EU over the years, how EU laws had made phone calls and airplane flights cheaper, how the EU had conferred various other benefits on Ireland etc."
These adverts could certainly influence people's attitutes when it came to voting – that being the criterion Ireland's Broadcasting Complaints Commission's uses in deciding whether a broadcast advertisement is "political" or not."
The Broadcasting Complaints Commission upheld our complaint and ruled that the EU Commission's advertisements were indeed political and as such were effectively encouraging Irish broadcasters to breach the statutory ban on political advertising in this country."
If this complaint had not been made and upheld, one can be confident that the EU Commission Office in Ireland would have gone on to repeat these politically potent advertisements on national radio and TV here."
It is quite outrageous from a democratic point of view that the EU Commission and its representative in Dublin, Mr Mertin Territt, should be planning to spend large sums of EU taxpayers' money on seeking to influence Irish voters to reverse their vote of last June on the Lisbon Treaty in order, inter alia, to increase significantly the power of the EU Commission itself."