Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Yes" press scaremonging on Lisbon Treaty

As tomorrow's historic EU referendum approaches on whether Ireland should remain an independent nation state or dissolve into a colony of a European empire by supporting the Lisbon treaty, the Establishment are feeling the heat, and like a wounded animal, have gone into full headless chicken mode. This morning's Irish Independent frontpage being a case-in-point. With jobs losses growing by the week, they cynically seek to link the issue to the possibility of a "No" vote to the June 12th referendum. This article is pure facile scaremongering and beneath contempt. But it deserves a reply from the "No" camp, and as a determined "no" voter who believes the time has come to draw a line in the sand against further surrender of sovereignty to Brussels, I firmly believe it merits - just - a response. So here goes. In the article, by Fionnán Sheehan, Brendan Keenan and Aine Kerr state:

"THE dole queues are swelling by nearly 1,000 people a week -- and things will worsen if the Lisbon Treaty is rejected, the 'Yes' camp warned yesterday.
Record unemployment figures revealed yesterday prompted 'Yes' campaigners to warn it is no time to gamble on the economy.
The numbers drawing the dole have risen by a record 48,000 in the past year, and by nearly 28,000 since the start of the year, with unemployment breaking the 200,000 mark for the first time in almost a decade.
The alarming figures, which detail the full extent of the economic slowdown, have come just two days before the country is due to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. 'Yes' campaigners cautioned against sending out a negative message about the country in tomorrow's referendum at a time of such enormous economic challenges."

I fail to see the link here. These job losses are already happening - without Lisbon in force. Why should they suddenly soar after a "No" vote? This is utter rubbish. If anything a "Yes" vote will jeopardise the Irish economy considering the threats of Article 113 which calls for the harmonisation of indirect and turnover taxes to combat "distortions of competition". It also copperfastens the plan by EU Tax Commissioner Laslo Kovacs to introduce destination-taxes on companies exporting from Ireland under a scheme - said to be backed by 2/3rds of member states and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso - known as CCCTB (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base). During last Monday's debate on the Treaty, Declan Ganley, leader of the anti-Treaty group Libertas, read out comments by IBEC condemning CCCTB about a year ago. It is highly strange then, that IBEC has lined up with the Establishment behind Lisbon, especially as other senior businessmen like Ganley, Ulick McEvaddy and Chris Coughlan (President-elect of Chambers Ireland) have come out for a "no" vote. Clearly they can't all be right about what is best for the economy and business. The reality is that after 4 years during which 400,000 nationals of the 12 new Eastern European EU member states entered the EU in a "Big Bang" Enlargement, and during which unemployment has risen from 4% to 5.5% with dole-queues now over 200,000 for the first time since 1997, and with most new jobs in 2007 going to non-nationals according to the CSO, we would be wrong to once more be taken in by the propaganda of an increasingly self-serving, patronising, and demonstrably wrong Establishment. Much of the blame for what has happened has to lie at their door, as they hoodwinked us into voting for Nice. As someone who voted "Yes" to the Amsterdam and Nice treaties (both times), I for one believe a lot of us feel hoodwinked about the consequences of voting for Nice, and if given a chance to take back my "Yes" votes would do so in a heartbeat.

Article 48 of Lisbon allows EU member state governments to make changes to the text of the Treaties under a 'simplified ratification process'. The agenda behind this is clear - to allow the Irish government get around the Crotty Judgement 1987 - which requires it to give us a referendum on changes in the EU treaties that involve a transfer of sovereignty. In this context, the Government would be able to surrender more national vetoes in the future without consulting us in a referendum. Furthermore, the Treaty, by ending Ireland's right to a Commissioner for 5 out of 15 years, makes it more likely that the EU CCCTB tax-harmonisation plan will come about, because the consent of the Commission is needed before Enhanced Cooperation - the mechanism favoured by Commissioner Kovacs to get around the Irish veto with the support of 9 member states - can be invoked. Taking this into account, together with the surrender under Article 188O of the national veto on the terms of international agreements such as are being negotiated at the WTO presently, which can only be a disaster for Irish farmers just like for Irish fishermen since 1973, it is an uncontestable truth, in my opinion, that Lisbon constitutes a grave threat to the Irish economy - to its competitiveness, to its agriculture industry, and to its right to set its own taxes. In fact, unemployment in the Netherlands has fallen to just 2% (from 3.5% in 2005) since their "No" vote to the EU Constitution (which Bertie Ahern admits is 95% identicalt to Lisbon). Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty, in a debate on Today with Pat Kenny on RTE Radio on Monday, pointed out that FDI in France had doubled to a 10 year high one year after their "No" vote. In that context the evidence seems overwhelming that a "No" vote could be just what the economy needs at a time when international investors fear EU tax harmonisation will erode their capacity to invest profitably in Ireland.

As such, we ought to vote no in order to preserve what little independence we have left - but especially what little real control we have over our lives - our tax rates. As we enter increasingly unstable and choppy economic waters, it is imperative that we retain our right to set our own taxes. The Establishment are panicking as their beloved Act of Union 2008 goes down the tubes - make sure you drive a stake through the heart of this Dracula of treaties tomorrow. Your children and grandchildren are depending on you. Don't let them have to ask you many years from now "Daddy why did you vote to give up our independence to Brussels?".

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