The European Central Bank is being urged to ensure the voice of every country is heard when decisions are taken after Ireland loses its automatic voting rights at the bank's Governing Council.
The Central Bank has confirmed that the loss of our permanent vote at ECB council level is imminent as a result of a change in voting structures caused by the entry of Lithuania into the Eurozone from January 1 next year. Ireland will then be relegated to the second tier of smaller Eurozone countries, which will have less voting rights than the five biggest countries sitting on the council.
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said he has asked the ECB to clarify if any new voting procedure will apply at the Bank when Lithuania joins the euro from January next year. Mr Hayes said by increasing the number of countries from 18 to 19, the Euro is demonstrating to the world that it is a strong reserve currency and that it is here to stay.
"At the very least there should be a guarantee from the ECB, that if a country is not voting because of rotation, that the concerns of that country have to be reflected in the final decision of the ECB. This needs to be a minimum requirement and I believe that the ECB President has a duty to clarify how this new system will operate so as to maximise confidence especially in smaller Member States," he said.
But Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan accused the government of "sleepwalking" into the loss of voting rights on the ECB's governing body.
"The ending of one state one vote for smaller member states from January 2015 is an affront to democracy and fairness. Crocodile tears from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael won't get our voting rights back," she said. Ms Boylan said the matter must be pursued urgently.