Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reject the Lisbon Treaty

For the seventh time in a row, we are to be asked to ratify an EU treaty by popular vote, apparently on June 12th (or May 29th, depending on who you want to believe). The Daily Mail recently published explosive claims that the yes side was planning an early referendum to wrongfoot the no side as to the true date, as well as to leave us in the dark about the troubling plans of the French presidency later in the year. The hostile intentions of the French towards our generous corporate-tax regime is not exactly a state-secret. Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, has openly called for tax-harmonisation and brusquely dismissed warnings of Irish opposition, stating 'I've never known any Irish person to be afraid of anything'. Perhaps she will in the near future.

As some of you will already know, I am a convinced "No" voter. The yes campaign's refusal to engage with the public on the contents of the Treaty is not surprising, given the indefensible provisions thereof. These provisions include the loss of the automatic right to a Commissioner, the plans for a mutual-defence pact, the erosion of the veto through extending Qualified Majority Voting to areas such as energy, administrative cooperation, the role of the European Defence Agency, and elements of the statutes of bodies such as the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, Europol, Eurojust among others. The arguments from the yes supporters is that the EU of 27 cannot function effectively with rules intended for an EU of six members. I agree - which is why I voted for Nice. To trot out such an argument 4 years later makes no sense, as the elites spent much of the 2002 campaign using precisely this argument to induce us to vote yes. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I for one have no intention of being fooled.

But even if you are aware of and agree with the contents of the Treaty, you should still vote no, in order to defend the right of nations to hold onto their sovereignty unless they give consent for its relinquishment. The French and Dutch electorates in 2005 rejected the institutional changes present in Lisbon by voting down the European Constitution - a document Taoiseach Bertie Ahern concedes is 95% the same as the Lisbon treaty. The French and Dutch parliaments, in defiance of their electorates, have decided to ratify the document via parliamentary process. Some might wonder about the irony of the French parliamentary session being held in the Palace of Versailles, a symbol of rule by unelected people. In similar vein, the Dutch govt threatened to tell Queen Beatrix to veto a bill ordering a referendum if it passed the Dutch parliament as it did with the original EU Constitution. Again, this is symbolic of an elitist disdain for public opinion. The govt tells us that these are matters for the countries concerned - but I disagree. It goes to the heart of whether we want a democratic Europe or not. If the ratification succeeds it will send a dangerous precedent in which popular opinion can be ignored and sovereignty handed over. Indeed the European Parliament's 75% vote against a resolution promising to respect the outcome of the Irish referendum suggests that this is the kind of Europe the Brussels elite want.

1 comment:

kerdasi amaq said...

'this is symbolic of an elitist disdain for public opinion.'

Ha, they're terrified of a NO vote. If they were sure of the public's support; they would have no problem holding a referendum; if they were certain of a YES vote.