East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer has commented in light of reports that the European Commission is plotting an "information campaign" – intended to sway the outcome of the second referendum in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty.
In 2007 former Green MEP Patricia McKenna complained to the Irish Broadcasting Complaints Commission that Commission's campaign in Ireland was clearly intended to influence the outcome of the (first) referendum. The complaint was upheld, resulting in the EU Commission's commercials being ruled political and thus in conflict with Irish broadcasting rules.
Mr Helmer believes that the Commission is having another go, and said:
"It is scandalous enough that the EU institutions have rejected the democratic decision of the Irish people in the first referendum, and are demanding a second referendum — although the EU repeatedly rejects NO votes and requires member-states to vote again. But to use tax-payers' money to influence the outcome is a disgrace. The EU is fundamentally anti-democratic, and examples like this prove the point".
He has also tabled a written question to the Commission. It reads as follows:
"According to the Irish Times, a meeting took place in Brussels yesterday (March 18th) between the Commission and Mr. Martin Territt, head of the EU's representation in Dublin, to plan an "information" campaign ahead of the proposed second Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
The Commission will recall that in 2007, the Irish Broadcasting Complaints Commission ruled that the Commission's radio and TV "information" commercials were in fact political and likely to influence the outcome of the referendum, and it consequently banned them as political advertising.
Does the Commission agree that any proposed EU "information" campaign, ahead of the proposed second Irish Referendum, would inevitably have the effect of influencing the outcome of the referendum, and would indeed be designed and intended by the Commission to promote a YES vote? Does the Commission not agree therefore that the use of tax-payers' money to influence the outcome of a referendum is scandalous, improper and anti-democratic? Is it not effectively equivalent to a national government using taxpayers' money to support the governing party in a general election?
Will the Commission now reconsider its position in this matter and refrain from improperly seeking to influence the outcome of the Irish referendum?"