Five crucial reasons why we should vote Yes to the EU treaty

Lucinda Creighton

WHEN we vote on the Stability Treaty, we will be making an extremely important decision. At a time when instability continues to rock the European Union, we will be deciding whether we are part of the solution or part of the problem.

Every other member of the eurozone will ratify this treaty. If we vote No, the others will simply continue without us, leaving Ireland in a very unpredictable situation.

This treaty's importance as part of a range of measures to deal with the eurozone crisis cannot be underestimated.

Here are five reasons why a Yes vote is crucial for us in Ireland.

1Access to funding. Passing the Stability Treaty is a precondition for access to the European Stability Mechanism, a €700bn emergency fund for countries that cannot borrow money on the financial markets.

We are funded until our bailout programme ends in 2013. By voting Yes, we give ourselves guaranteed access to the ESM, should we need it at some point after that. If we vote No, we cut ourselves off from funding.

The No campaign has failed to say where we would get funding, should we need it; the truth is they don't know the answer.

2The vast majority of international and local companies that create jobs in the Irish economy have called for a Yes vote. Multinationals employ about 145,000 people in Ireland and contribute €16bn to the economy every year.

They invest in Ireland because we have an open, flexible economy, because of our transparent taxation policy and because our membership of the EU gives these businesses access to a market of 500 million people.

This referendum is being watched very carefully in boardrooms across the world. If we vote Yes, we will continue to attract inward investment from companies such as Microsoft and Pay Pal.

3We have to get the books in order. We have a huge debt burden in this country. We cannot wish it away. Contrary to what the No side says, the treaty sets out sensible rules and limits for the management of the public finances.

It will ensure that no government is ever again allowed to waste public money and run up huge debts. In future, they will save in the good times to prepare for the bad ones.

If we had had these rules in the past, the situation in Greece could not have occurred and the situation in Ireland would have been less severe.

4It is impossible to grow an economy on a debt mountain. It cannot be done. It is true to say that there has been a refocusing on growth at European level since the beginning of the year and we welcome that.

There has been extensive work going on behind the scenes to prepare a package of measures to be ready for the next European Council meeting at the end of June.

The No campaign has portrayed the election of a new president in France and the chaos in Greece as a rejection of the treaty. Nothing could be further from the truth.

France fully intends to ratify this treaty and Greece has already done so. Growth measures will only run alongside this treaty. If we vote Yes, we will be at the centre of those discussions.

5We gain nothing from voting No. There is very little new in the treaty. It is a restatement of existing terms and conditions, but, importantly, this time every country will have to meet them. The Irish Government is committed to most of the targets set out in any case.

A No vote still commits us to reducing our debt and controlling spending, but without any of the benefits such as access to EU Emergency funding.

Voting Yes to the Stability Treaty on Thursday is about maintaining stability and confidence, securing future investment and remaining at the centre of a European Union that is working on a whole range of proposals for future economic growth.

We are voting for certainty, for the future.

Lucinda Creighton is Minister for European Affairs