Lisbon Essay (5): It’s NOT the economy, stupid…

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The debate on LIsbon has been plagued by a plagued of red herrings, argues economist Stephen Kinsella. Not least of them that somehow a yes or no to the treaty will result in economic penalties, one way or the other. In fact, the government’s focus on its so-called concessions may be serving to further confuse an already bewildered Irish public. Simply put, he argues that the question being asked by Lisbon is whether Ireland continues on a journey it first undertook back in the early 1970s, or not. But whichever they choose, the days of endless credit, full employment and powerful economic growth are over. And, argues Stephen, the Irish public should refuse to listen to anyone who claims that either option is a viable way to bring back to the Celtic Tiger.By Stephen Kinsella

Both sides of the Lisbon debate will use the spectre of Ireland’s uncertain economic future to alloy the public’s fear of a sustained economic downturn to their cause. This is wrong.

Lisbon has nothing to do with the current Irish economic situation, nor does it directly provide any help for or hindrance from a viable recovery in the short to medium term.

The Treaty is a series of amendments to existing treaties designed to enhance the 60- year old dynamic of European integration. It will simultaneously shore up the details of actually running a supranational organisation with more than twenty constituent countries. It contains amendments and clarifications on almost any issue either side wishes to subject to public debate.

The dust storm of confusion we’ve seen both last time out, and this has its origin partly in the multifaceted nature of the treaty (and the beast it proposes to govern); and the need for both sides to polarise the debate in order to gain support from electorate.

Yet, in effect, it simply forces a bewildered public to shut down rather than evaluate whether to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Last time round, that confusion resulted in a resounding ‘no’ vote for the referendum. This time round, the treaty is the same, word for word, as before. But there are now legal guarantees in place addressing many of the body-public’s concerns over neutrality, the right to life, taxation, and so forth.

The existence of these legal guarantees however, rather than adding clarity, have added yet more complexity to the question. Now that the public must decide on just how binding these guarantees are; they serve only to add another dimension of confusion and contorted debate for the pundits and the chattering classes to chew on.

Frankly, it would be much simpler for both sides to use the fear generated by an entirely domestic economic meltdown to their advantage, and force that fear on the people in order to gain the upper hand in the debate.

Those who want a ‘yes’ vote will point to the EU’s role in providing our infrastructure, underpinning our agricultural sector, and allowing access to the world’s largest marketplace.

Those who want a ‘no’ vote will spend time arguing that Lisbon is bad for worker’s rights, exposes the Irish worker to potentially proscriptive changes in their minimum wage, and so on and so on.

None of which has anything to do with getting Ireland’s domestic economy out of the doldrums right now. Ireland’s economy has a list of problems as long as your arm: we have an damaged banking sector, a bloated public service, constrained credit markets, increasing levels of unemployment, domestic consumption is dropping precipitously, we are in a deflation, and our government is borrowing to run the state on a weekly basis. Voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on Lisbon will change none of these facts, either now or in the near future.

The decision the people must take is what the role of the EU in their lives will be. The Lisbon treaty is a further step on a long road towards political and economic integration. Europe began walking this road in 1946. Ireland began walking the road of every closer union with Europe in 1973. The Lisbon referendum represents a clear choice on whether to continue on that road, or not. Let the people decide. Both sides should refrain from trying to woo voters by invoking the tantalising possibility of a return to prosperous days of the Celtic Tiger.

Lisbon, yes or no, just won’t help.

Stephen Kinsella is a lecturer at the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and has run his own blog (stephenkinsella.net) for four years. He was one of 46 economists to have recently signed a petition

Tomorrow Dr Brian Crowe argues that a No vote in Ireland’s referendum creates a novel opportunity for the UK and Ireland to work together to reshape the way the European Union works for and to its various peoples…

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  • Jim McConalogue

    I do not agree that “Lisbon has nothing to do with the current Irish economic situation, nor does it directly provide any help for or hindrance from a viable recovery in the short to medium term.”

    First, many Yes campaigners say that EU membership has been pivotal to Ireland ’s success story. There is much evidence to support the fact that the substantive parts of Ireland’s growth is due to the fact that she retained control over central aspects of her own economic affairs – the Celtic Tiger was created through her own tax cuts and cuts in regulation. Significant research has established no link between Ireland ’s economic growth rates and EU transfers/subsidies. Over a substantial period of time, Irish growth rates were at its highest when EU subsidies were at their lowest. At its highest level, Ireland ’s subsidies were 4% of GDP, whereas Greece also received 4% of GDP – but its growth rates were nowhere near Ireland ’s. If Ireland hands over controls over central aspects of her own economic affairs, as Lisbon requires, then one can only expect her economic difficulties to worsen.

    Second, leading Irish politicians have falsely assured people that on Lisbon, they are protected from EU changes to the law on abortion, taxation and defence, because those assurances are not part of the Lisbon treaty (Judge Frank Clarke, Chairman of the Referendum Commission) and are not EU law – so acceptance of the Lisbon treaty by the Irish people could very freely lead to changes on abortion, taxation and defence.

    Third, the Fine Gael leader and Yes campaigners have already insisted that Ireland needed Lisbon because Europe faced challenges from growing economic powers like China, Russia and India, but Lisbon inhibits Ireland from remaining globally competitive. In fact, many of Lisbon’s objectives are already provided in Article 2 TEU, Article 2 and 3 TEC as well as in various Articles of the TEC but most astonishing of all, there is no mention in Lisbon as to whether the Union’s objective is “free and undistorted competition.” Since it is such an essential feature of the internal market, it must be noted that the French President (Sarkozy) was able to negotiate the removal of free and undistorted competition from the Treaty, which represents a real threat to free competition. The reference to undistorted competition was moved to the ‘Protocol on the Internal Market and Competition’, annexed to the Treaties. The Protocol makes no effective legally binding statement that would be able to defend the objective of free and undistorted competition. Ireland will be forced to accept European laws when trading, dealing with or competing with growing economic powers like China, Russia and India . If anything, a post-Lisbon Europe will inhibit Ireland from facing its own challenges that develop from growing economic powers.

  • Mack

    Jim –

    You are misrepresenting the argument, wrt Ireland’s economic transformation and the EU. No serious commentator suggests that EU subsidies fueled the Celtic Tiger. Tariff free access to European markets played a huge part. The IDA, the organisation that brought in the US multi-nationals advertised Ireland back in the late 80’s under the banner “We are the young Europeans”. Ireland was the English speaking, educated, low tax gateway to Europe.

    Furthermore laws introduced via Europe led to liberalisation in Ireland and much greater female participation in the workplace.

    The subsidies to farmers are an irrelevancy, the funding of road building and other infrastructure was certainly a great help, but was absolutely critical to Ireland’s success was our membership of both the economic Union (free trade) and the political union (European law).

  • Mack

    typo

    but what was absolutely critical to Ireland’s success was our membership of both the economic Union (free trade) and the political union (European law).

  • Neville Bagnall

    “First, many Yes campaigners say that EU membership has been pivotal to Ireland ’s success story.”

    Yes we do. But its cumulative. The relaxation of protectionism in the 50’s let us out of the straightjacket of this island. Access to world markets under GATT/WTO helps some more. Access to the EEA helps some more. Access to EU supports helps some more. Access to Euroland and ECB helps some more. A baby boom helps some more.

    Those are the ingredients. But you still have to get the receipe right. During the eighties, while the economy was in the dogs, we spent regional funds to keep our creaking infrastructure going and even add a bit. But the best thing we did was educate our baby boom. Do you think we’d have had all those RTCs churning out multilingual call-centre operators, programmers, etc. without those european grants? A diploma in Marketing and Languages is a hell of a lot cheaper than a few miles of motorway, but in the long term far more economically potent.

    Pity we weren’t sensible enough to manage the Euroland boom as well as we managed the 80’s recession.

    “The Celtic Tiger was created through her own tax cuts and cuts in regulation.”

    And access. And debt. The tax cuts were our decision, but most market regulation is now decided in Europe. Common Commercial Policy, remember? Part of the reason taxes went down so fast was Europe forced us to have a single corporate rate. Do you really think the Irish government would have gone from 40% to 12.5% ovenight otherwise? Another bonus was the fact that the NTMA could take advantage of Euro membership. I remember the headlines as Irelands credit rating went up as well as down. Note that its now widely recognised that the markets did not distinguish between different Euro members during the bubble. We got money cheap.
    Oh, and the fact that the Punt got locked into the Euro after a devaluation didn’t hurt either.
    But EEA access is the goose that lays the golden eggs. EU membership means we have a say in setting the EEA rules.

    “Significant research has established no link between Ireland ’s economic growth rates and EU transfers/subsidies.”

    I’m not surprised. Bubbles never have any relation to reality. Dot.com IPO prices had no relation to income either. But show me the research that says having an educated workforce had no relationship.

    “If Ireland hands over controls over central aspects of her own economic affairs, as Lisbon requires, then one can only expect her economic difficulties to worsen.”

    And if we were actually required to, it might. But Lisbon doesn’t require it. The Euro was the big handover. And we screwed up how we handled membership, not Brussels. You have to reign in booms and maintain competitiveness when part of a monetary union. We didn’t.

    “So acceptance of the Lisbon treaty by the Irish people could very freely lead to changes on abortion, taxation and defence.”

    The declarations aren’t legally binding, but:

    1) The Treaty already contains the same guarantees, as has been explained ad nauseum. Those declarations say nothing in english the treaty doesn’t already say in legalese.

    2) We have allies on all these issues within the Council. To attempt changes in any of these areas would result in the destruction of the EU.

    3) The same scare stories have been raised at every referendum on Europe. In 35 years, its never been true. If anything, the legal and political entrenchment of the status quo in these areas has only increased.

    “President (Sarkozy) was able to negotiate the removal of free and undistorted competition from the Treaty”

    Yep, because the French rejected it in a referendum. Remember that campaign? The left argued that “free and undistorted competition” would result in social dumping and a race to the bottom. So it was put back in the box it came from. That was what France wanted changed, like we wanted to keep our Commissioner.

    We get the same internal market as we have now. When setting the WTO rules, the Commission negotiates for us (as in fact the do by agreement already). Are you telling me Ireland has more negotiating clout with India than the EU?

  • http://www.mediabite.org Miriam Cotton

    There is no such thing as EU legislation that is not central to Ireland’s or any member state’s economic situation. Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty is being sold to us by our government on exactly that pretext: the ECB are paying to get us out of the mess we are in, so shut up and vote yes. They may not want to help us if we vote no. The EU is first and foremost an economic community. Everything else about it is only to serve that core preoccupation and the Lisbon Treaty is no exception. The proposal to incorporate rulings on cases like Laval make it quite clear that workers rights are directly in its line of sight.

    Moreover, and only the obtuse would argue otherwise, the majority of the 500,000,000 people affected by Lisbon almost certainly do not want ‘the beast which [Lisbon] proposes to govern’. That’s why none bar the Irish were asked for their opinion and that will not be allowed to happen again if Lisbon goes through. Kinsella gives the game away. As many of us have been at pains to point out, Lisbon is indeed an attempt to build a political and economic beast which its creators alone will have almost total control over.

    The creation of BRIC is a response to the alliance of the US and the EU and others, not the other way around. Who the hell is going to sit around doing nothing when the US has pointed missiles at them from Czechoslovakia – with the blessing of the EU?

    Are these the ‘unstable’ states to which Kinsella so arrogantly refers? Talk about the white man’s burden! BRIC represents an economic challenge by the emerging imperialists to the old imperialists’ hegemony. It’s a recognition by those countries that neither the US nor the EU is doing diplomacy and cooperation longer. We have forced them to acknowledge an ugly truth: our imperliasm is as violent as it is unremittingly voracious. They’ve watched it and suffered it for centuries.

    Moreover when behaviour like that is being backed up with talk of pre-emptive strikes against ‘terrorist’ states on behalf of ‘third’ countries – all down there in black and white in the Lisbon treaty we need to ask ourselves who is threatening whom. Guarantees on Ireland’s neutrality are worthless nonsense in this context. Member states will be obliged to fund and support military action officially even if they do not participate physically. Besides Ireland is stuck into the arms industry in the EU for serious money. We can let them use the country any way they want without dropping a simgle bomb ourselves. Exactly as we are doing now for the US in Shannon from within our ‘neutral’ status.

    The provisions on QMV would ensure that the big six plus any internal bloc of 9 (possibly the Eastern European states eg) will be able to push through measures that favour them. Conversely, if just four of the big six wish to block an alliance of smaller states against them -then it has been made very easy for them to do that too. Plus member states will not be allowed to send anyone to the Commission who the unelected Commission President does not approve of. We will be allowed to ‘suggest’ someone.

    With regard to the ‘liberalisation’ of economic policy, we have been regaled with the enthusiasm of our most extreme neo-con body, IBEC, who insist that Lisbon does promise more of the same insane economic ideology that has caused the whole world economy to collapse. They have been given reassurances on this point during a recent visit to Brussels and have issued public statements to that effect encouraging us all to vote yes. They are salivating over a relaxtion in rules that will allow them, according to themselves, to savage education and other public services just as they are dong to our health services right now – with disgraced US healthcare companies set up to make lots of money. Do the people of the EU know that this is the sort of thing that is in store for them?

    Lastly, the only people in Ireland who are advocating a return to the madness of Celtic Tiger Ireland is the Irish government itself, which Kinsella must know since he has opposed the outrageous proposiation that is NAMA (a colossal bailout scheme for property developers to be paid for by the Irish people). We are told that this is being done with the approval of both the IMF AND the ECB!!!

    The Lisbon Treaty is big business for EU and US big business. Nothing more.

    Further observations here – written for US website Znet so includes historical background and many linked references to supporting arguments for voting No.

    http://mediabite.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/right-turn-ahead-ireland-the-lisbon-treaty-and-the-new-world-order/

  • Mack

    It’s slightly disconcerting that different No campaigners will argue the opposite sides of the same points (repeatedly).

    e.g.

    Jim – Boo! Lisbon won’t liberalise markets!

    Miriam – Boo! Lisbon will liberalise markets!

    You can’t both be right. Pushmi-pullyu?

  • Neville Bagnall

    The Constitution was more neo-conservative than the Treaty but the French rejection put paid to that.

    The fact that a queue of referendum rejections was forming put paid to all those federalist fripperies like flags and anthems.

    So what was left? Tweaks. Simplifications. Stuff thats been floating around and agreed, but without a legal codification. Voting rule leftovers from the cockup that was Nice. The next steps in market and political integration. But compared to the single currency or enlargement?
    An anti-climax.

    The problem with Lisbon isn’t that its some great big conspiracy to enslave Ireland.
    It’s that it doesn’t have any big thing.
    The Charter is good, but its not going to turn Europe into a WTO protestor.

    Ironically, its a perfect example of what European gridlock looks like. And thats the only way in which its vital it passes.

    5 years of argument over a tidying up exercise.
    Its time we moved on, we’ve bigger problems, and we need a Europe thats cooking, not washing the cooking utensils.

  • http://www.mediabite.org Miriam Cotton

    Neville’s comment is typical of the patrician and dismissive Yes side attitude. It’s not a ‘tidying up’ exercise to oblige member states to back a military strategy that the EU has not had before – or introduce a licence for taking pre-emptive military strikes – on behalf of the union itself or in support of non EU countries. That is HUGE.

    Handing over decision making in 50 areas is not ‘tidying up’ either.

  • Mack

    Miriam –

    The Lisbon amendments to the Irish Constituition clearly state that Ireland will not participate in any EU defence initiatives.

    Can you point to the articles in the Lisbon Treaty that mention pre-emptive military strikes? It should be noted there is nothing stopping European nations engaging such activity now (e.g. UK invading Iraq). I have to say, I can’t find any mentions of the doctrine of pre-emption in the treaty..

  • http://www.mediabite.org Miriam Cotton

    The provisions on co-operation with third countries are completely open-ended. If the US, the country most likely to require ‘assistance’ in pre-emptive/unjusitified strikes on third countries – which is what its murderous attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are – then the EU can decide – by authority given it under Lisbon – to proceed with ‘assistance’ to the US without consulting national parliaments – and on the basis only that the US deems the proposed victim country a terrorist threat. Nowhere does the treaty define what is a genuine terrorist threat or what conditions third countries have to meet to make that claim. Member states will not be allowed publicly to demur. If they do, the EU will further have the right to deploy against dissenting member states.

    Para 27. ‘The member statres shall support the Union’s external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union’s action in this area.”

    Paragraph 50: “the diplomatic missions of Member States…in third countries and international organisations shall co-operate and shall contribute to formating and implementing the common approach”

    Ergo, phyisical participation not obligatory – but moral and political support is. Ireland is already doing this at Shannon airport though the majority do not support the war.

    The Common and Foreign Security Policy Art 28B authorises “joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making [!] and post conflict stabilisation. [Middle East gas and oil pipelines in mind there, for sure until the oil and gas runs out]. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, INCLUDING BY SUPPORTING THIRD COUNTRIES IN COMBATING TERRORISM IN THEIR TERRITORIES’.

    Article 240 (a) “The European Court of Justice shall not have jurisdiction with respect to the provisions relating to common foreign and security policy”.

    Now, if the ECJ doesn’t have jurisidction and neither do the national governments, who the hell does? The lack of judicial oversight here combined with the near total impotence of the European Parliament is bascially a form of military dictatorship. The unelected executive of 500, 000, 000 million people will have ruled out the parliamentary and judicial pillars of democracy.

    Vote no, for all our sakes.

  • http://greatdearleader.blogspot.com FutureTaoiseach

    There is no evidence a yes vote will improve the economic landscape. In the year up to April, Irish exports rose 5%, compared to a fall of 9% in the UK and a collapse of 29% in Germany. Also, Eurostat (EU statistics office) says that Irish industrial-output rose 9.3% compared to a decline of 0.6% in the Eurozone. The elites are relying on the recession to bully us into voting no, but I think they are meeting resistance.I think the closing of ranks of the elites behind the Treaty makes people suspicious that there’s something in it for them. I think it will be close.

    Much will depend on class-factors. The working-class voted 2-1 against while the middle class was 60-40 in favour. In my opinion, the key to victory for either side will be getting their respective demographic out in sufficient numbers to outweight the propensity of the other one to vote differently to themselves. Also, the TNS-MRBI poll shows the no side leading among 18-24 yr olds. A strong turnout from that group could also spell trouble for the Treaty. You also need to automatically include 500,000 in the no camp because they have voted no all the way back to 1992. Conventional wisdom was that a low turnout favoured the “No’s”, as in Nice I (2001). That wisdom was challenged last year with a turnout of 53% which was higher than Nice II. Even so, I think we have to start from the premise that 500,000 are automatically in the no-camp. I am voting no because I resent being asked to vote again, to force something on the French and Dutch peoples who voted no, and because Lisbon dismantles our immigration controls in the middle of the recession through Articles 18/19 and 15 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Paragraph 7 of the referendum-legislation (28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009) contains provisions on joining the Schengen Area which would dismantle our passport-checks at ports and airports. This is about bringing in more cheap labour and I think Nigel Farage made a good point of quoting Minister Dick Roche from 2002 in Nice II when he said ‘there is no reason to believe that large numbers will come’. Roche also promised no second referendum when we voted no. In fact, at the time of writing, that remains on his website (I googled it). I don’t trust his promises on Europe any more. I swallowed the spin both times for Nice and Amsterdam, but not this time.

  • Neville Bagnall

    “Neville’s comment is typical of the patrician and dismissive Yes side attitude.”

    That was not my intention. I’ll admit to a certain amount of exasperation, and to the extent that that coloured my prose or seemed dismissive I apologise.

    “It’s not a ‘tidying up’ exercise to oblige member states to back a military strategy that the EU has not had before – or introduce a licence for taking pre-emptive military strikes – on behalf of the union itself or in support of non EU countries. That is HUGE.”

    Indeed it is. Up there on a par with giving up your currency. And just as some members have opted out of the Euro, we are opting out of the military obligations. The triple lock remains in place. That does not mean that we can completely ignore the fact that the EU is developing a military dimension, any more than the UK can ignore the monetary dimension.

    But Lisbon isn’t where those members who are opting into the military dimension made the HUGE decision. Joining NATO was. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EU_and_NATO.svg
    That map is only going to get more purple as the EU enlarges.

    I’ve argued elsewhere that we cannot sit back and be passively neutral any more. We must instead join with the other neutrals in Europe and fight within the CFSP for a dual policy. Yes the NATO club can operate enhanced co-operation, but so too should the Neutral club, and the EU must give credence to both.

    The ultimate prize should be that each track would eventually wield an UN Security Council veto.

    “Handing over decision making in 50 areas is not ‘tidying up’ either.”

    Well here I respectfully disagree. There are 4 levels of EU competence.

    1) None.
    2) Supporting.
    3) Joint.
    4) Exclusive.

    If its not in the treaties its exclusively national, and the EU has no competence. That’s the starting point.

    I can’t find a handy list of the 50 areas online, if someone has a link, please post it.

    But working from the groupings.

    There is new supporting competence in the following areas:
    – civil protection
    – intellectual property
    – tourism
    – administrative co-operation
    – sport

    ok. I’m having a hard time seeing the vital national interest in anything there. I have a certain commercial interest in the area of IP law because of my job, but my experience there suggests users rights are in better hands with the EU Parliament than our own. In any case the balance remains tipped in the states favour. If the EU tries to go too far, we refuse to co-operate. I don’t agree with flat out excluding them from the Treaty since some states obviously see scope for co-operation. If we never extended competencies, the EU would still be a steel and coal union. We just need to keep a watching brief and from that point of view the new procedure for national parliamentary oversight is a great addition.

    Moving on – joint competence would be extended to
    – space
    – energy

    Well, I’ve got a flat out preference for EU action in these areas. I think the EU will achieve more and better results than the states acting alone or via co-operative arrangements. You may disagree and if you do, then it should weight heavily against the Treaty.

    And finally there are no new areas of exclusive EU competence.

    So. New competencies. I have to say, I still see this as tidying up. The states have identified these areas where they reckon more integration is needed. They’ve split it into groups of areas where they want to keep control and areas where they’re willing to relinquish control.

    This is what the EU is about. Incrementalism. Ever closer union. Probing and testing to see where the boundaries are between the Union and the States, within a framework of laws, rights and principles. Every few years you review where the boundaries are and tidy up the rules as necessary. I much prefer it to the horse trading of the WTO, the International Whaling Commission and yes, the UN.

  • http://greatdearleader.blogspot.com FutureTaoiseach

    Article 15.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights says that ‘everyone has the right to work’. That will be used by the ECJ to annul Irish laws banning asylum-seekers from working. That will lead to Irish workers being displaced by cheap labour. Also, because the UK has an optout from the Charter, their asylum-seekers will come to the South, putting added strain on already creaking public-services. Article 19(1) of the Charter says ‘Collective expulsions are forbidden’. This will add yet another layer of asylum-appeals to an already endless and wasteful process funded by the Irish taxpayer. Good for the legal-profession that dominate Leinster House, but bad for the taxpayer already spending €350 million per annum on asylum. Vote No.

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    Irish laws banning asylum-seekers from working

    These laws are indefensible anyway. Asylum-seekers should be processed as quickly as possible and either allowed to stay or sent home as appropriate. In the meantime taxpayers are forking out to keep them on benefits. Why not let them earn their keep if they’re here anyway?

  • http://greatdearleader.blogspot.com FutureTaoiseach

    Andrew Gallagher, the problem is that we are being asked to let them work while the UK doesn’t, due to their optout from the Charter. That is not on. If we let them work while the UK doesn’t, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what will happen.

  • http://greatdearleader.blogspot.com FutureTaoiseach

    I also don’t think it is acceptable to develop a dependence on illegal labour which would make it harder to remove them at a later stage should it prove necessary. We are in a recession anyway and charity begins at home.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Article 15.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights says that ‘everyone has the right to work’

    Actually, at least in the copy I have, it says “Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation” which is apparently legally distinctive. You can’t request payment for engaging in work or pursueing an occupation, as opposed to working. Weasel words. And you are leaving out the second and third paragraphs:

    2. Every citizen of the Union has the freedom to seek employment, to work, to exercise the right of establishment and to provide services in any Member State.

    3. Nationals of third countries who are authorised to work in the territories of the Member States are entitled to working conditions equivalent to those of citizens of the Union.

    So, that limits the right to seek employment to citizens and requires third country nationals (thats your illegal immigrant and asylum bogeymen among others) to be authorised to work (note that they’re not engaging in it) which would be a national competence. And thats even without getting into the fun area of the right of establishment being a citizens right.

    Yep, you were right, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what would happen. Just had to read the whole article and google a bit.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think Stephen’s point is that Lisbon is economically neutral. Those who claim Ireland will become Iceland if it does not scuttle under Auntie Brussels’ protective skirts are blagging; every bit as much as those who claim continued membership killing the country.

    Now, if you are going to blow that one out of the water, you’d better come with something more than imprecise assertions one way or the other.

    In short, it’s a challenge to be good and, preferably, be attentive to detail……

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    If we let them work while the UK doesn’t, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what will happen.

    If the asylum system worked efficiently, there wouldn’t be time for anything to happen. And it would be cheaper.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Mick,

    not sure if you were talking to the room or someone in particular.

    Either way, I think Stephen is spot on, and while I’ve been arguing on the economic benefits of membership, I don’t think this vote will have any significant economic effect. I do think it will have political effects, either way.

  • http://greatdearleader.blogspot.com FutureTaoiseach

    “Actually, at least in the copy I have, it says “Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation” which is apparently legally distinctive. You can’t request payment for engaging in work or pursueing an occupation, as opposed to working. Weasel words. And you are leaving out the second and third paragraphs:”

    Each paragraph is individual and has a separate legal implication. I stand over my interpretation.

  • Dave

    “Article 15.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights says that ‘everyone has the right to work’. That will be used by the ECJ to annul Irish laws banning asylum-seekers from working. That will lead to Irish workers being displaced by cheap labour. Also, because the UK has an optout from the Charter, their asylum-seekers will come to the South, putting added strain on already creaking public-services.” – FutureTaoiseach

    If the Lisbon treaty is ratified then the Charter will become EU law and ECJ will have the authority to interpret it. The ECJ is constitutionally bound by the Treaty of Rome to promote “ever closer union” between Member States (i.e. unity), so it is a court with an agenda that requires it to undermine the sovereignty of Member States (as former German President Roman Herzog recently pointed out).

    While the UK opted out of Council Directive 2003/9/EC (as did Ireland), it subsequently opted into most of its requirements. The problem with opting in to law that is formulated by an unelected supranational body is that there is no right of repeal (a core requirement of sovereignty) so the UK can never opt back out again. Once it surrenders a competency to the EU, it surrenders it with no right to reclaim it (a point I recently discussed with Lord Norton on his blog – the UK’s leading authority on constitutional law).

    2008/0244 (COD) is an updated Directive “laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers” which proposes that:

    – Member States shall ensure that applicants have access to the labour market no later than 6 months following the date when the application for international protection was lodged.

    – Member States may allow asylum seekers access to vocational training irrespective of whether they have access to the labour market.

    Directives, unlike decisions of the ECJ, are only binding on the Member States to whom they are addressed. The Irish government had declared that “It was agreed that, in light of the fact that it is not intended to opt in at this time, this proposal does not require further scrutiny at this stage.” The key phrase being “at this time” (the UK didn’t intend to opt in either).

    So, as it stands, Ireland retains de facto sovereignty in this area. That will not be the case if Lisbon is ratified, since, as you pointed out, the de jure sovereignty will be held by the ECJ if the Lisbon treaty is ratified. There is every likelihood that a case will be brought to the ECJ in another state under the Doctrine of Direct Effect or some other pretext; and that the decision of that court will be binding on all Member States irrespective of opting in or opting out.

    The only way to avoid that is by not ratifying the Lisbon treaty; and thereby not allowing a quasi-state – with its own ‘citizens’ of European nationality under the Treaty of Rome and its own brand of supranational law – to masquerade as an international body along the lines of the United Nations and, ergo, do not allow said quasi-state to alter the fundamental political, civil, constitutional, human, and national rights without the consent of the people and at the sole discretion of an unelected regime. The whole point of a ‘constitution’ is that it provides a safeguard that prevents the political elite from altering the rights of the people – only the people can do that. A ‘constitution’ that is devised by an unelected regime and wherein the people are forbidden from exercising their mandate to determine what their rights should be is, of course, a grotesque and highly dangerous mockery of fundamental rights and democratic process. Still, history is littered with muppets who were persuaded to endorse regimes; and this example won’t end any differently.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    I wouldn’t be unduly concerned by what the UK does re opt in/out since it will also be bound by any future decision from the ECJ on the rights of asylum seekers if Lisbon is ratified. Remember that the British government dismissed the Charter in 2000 as irrelevant, famously claiming that it would not be incorporated into any treaty and would be no more “binding than The Beano.” The President of the Court unhelpfully pointed out that it was “foolish” to claim that the Charter would not alter national law since it would “renew” Member State’s labour laws and that it would be “a basis for challenging national law.” Approximately 80% of all the UK’s laws originate in the EU, so the effects of the Charter on UK law will be profound – making its opt out worthless.

    As Stephen Kinsella acknowledges, there is only one road and it leads to [the Treaty of] Rome. Sovereignty and democracy, self-determination, nation, nation-sate, national interest, et al, are all rendered redundant outside of the emerging state of Europa which now lays claims to these things on behalf of the artificially engineered European ‘demos.’ You must decide if you are loyal to the Irish state as an Irish citizen or if you are loyal to the emergent state of Europa as a European citizen (for that is what you are under the Treaty of Rome). Folks should decide it now because they’ll have a civil war between those who are Irish and those who have been successfully indoctrinated with the engineered nationality (and citizenship rights) of European if they wait until there is no democratic option to remove the false consciousness and the bribed from their shores.

  • Dave

    On that last point: the EU isn’t, as it likes to present itself, an international body or an alliance of states ‘pooling’ their sovereignty in the interest of creating a single market. It is not necessary for a state to transfer its sovereignty to a third party in order to trade with another state – all that is necessary is for those states who wish to trade freely with each other not to impose tariffs on each other’s goods. The EU only has a single market in the same sense that every other ‘state’ has a single market. It is, in fact, not a free market but is a protectionist market imposes tariffs on goods produced outside of the ‘state’ – who in turn impose tariffs of goods produced within the EU’s protectionist market. In addition, it uses ‘standards’ (the CE mark) as a means of preventing goods from entering its protectionist market. This forces manufacturers who meet global safety standards to go to the considerable expense of seeking CE approval for their goods before they are allowed to sell them in the EU. Those manufacturers who do not want to retool in order to manufacturer products according to how the EU specifications are barred from the market. Because the EU seeks to become a single state, it must, of course, have a single market. With this market it is them able to blackmail its Member State to transfer more and more of their nation’s sovereignty to the EU under the threat of being excluded from the market. If the EU did not exist, these states could still trade freely with each other but could do so without having their nation’s sovereignty stolen from them as a condition of trading without tariffs. The EU is no more than a parasite.

    What is particularly insidious about it is the Treaty of Rome which invents a new nationality of European and makes all citizens of its Member States citizens of the EU. This false nationality is then used to brainwash citizens of its nation states into transferring their loyalty from their state to the engineered state of Europa. Despite this nationality of European being a recent invention there are a growing segment of the national population who are transferring their loyalty to it, and thereby encouraged to commit treason against their own state by denying its right to determine its own affairs in accordance with its the history and tradition of its nation.

    On top of this brainwashing, you have wanton bribery whereby a large proportion of taxes are raised in the host nation and sent to the EU who then spend a portion of this money within the host nation, making a large percentage of the population grateful to the EU for having their own money spent on projects that they profit by. It is, of course, the host nations’ own money that is being spent in the host nation by the EU (money which would be retained in the host nation if not sent to the EU), but joy of spending these billions is that the EU is able to make a large percentage of the host population dependent on what is seen as EU money. Farmers, for example, are an obvious group who were decimated by the EU but who have become dependent on this bribery. These groups – and they are scattered although the country – will vote for the teat that feeds them. Others are simply bribed by the possibility of a job within the EU and the welcome opportunity it provides used-up local political hacks to extend their political careers. These tossers will always tell you how wonderful the EU is since it is a foolish dog that bites its master’s hand. You only have to look northwards to see the trouble you get when a large percentage of the population are loyal to a foreign state.

    When you add to these two groups (the brainwashed and the bribed) those who came to the host nation from other nations and who are entitled to vote and whose stay in the host nation is based on membership of the EU, you have another large group of people who have a vested in putting their own selfish interest before the national interest on any future referendum on EU membership.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    Add in all the EU regulations (over 100,00 of them) and all the others means by which the EU takes control over the host nation – integrating its currency for example – and the flaw of basing too much trade (over 60%) on an economically backward region of the world – the EU – and you end up with a nation whose own sovereignty is rendered null and void since – like heroin addicts – no one will vote to go cold turkey.

    By 2050, the median age of the EU’s population will be 52; its share of the global marketplace will have declined to 13%, and it will account for less than 6% of the global population. In other words, it will be a small and economically backward state where most of its younger population will be working to pay the pensions and other entitlements of its older population.

    But long before it reaches that dismal state, other states will begin to dump it, recognising that its mean average is pure mediocrity and an albatross around their necks. What fun we will have when all the self-planted ‘Europeans’ demand their ‘rights’ to live under EU sovereignty and refuse to allow the true nations to reclaim their rights to national self-determination. It is fun we will all have created for ourselves.

    Well, you lot will: I’ll be saying “I told you so” from sunnier shores. ;)

    P.S. Any chance of MIck raising the word count limit to 10,000?

  • http://stephenkinsella.net Stephen Kinsella

    Hi All,

    Thanks to Mick for the invitation to post.

    It was my intention to show that the rhetoric around the treaty from both sides needs to be toned down and divorced from the current economic situation in Ireland because, one way or the other, Lisbon won’t change our domestic economic problems, of which I’m sure all the posters are aware.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Directives, unlike decisions of the ECJ, are only binding on the Member States to whom they are addressed. The Irish government had declared that “It was agreed that, in light of the fact that it is not intended to opt in at this time, this proposal does not require further scrutiny at this stage.” The key phrase being “at this time” (the UK didn’t intend to opt in either).

    So, as it stands, Ireland retains de facto sovereignty in this area. That will not be the case if Lisbon is ratified, since, as you pointed out, the de jure sovereignty will be held by the ECJ if the Lisbon treaty is ratified. There is every likelihood that a case will be brought to the ECJ in another state under the Doctrine of Direct Effect or some other pretext; and that the decision of that court will be binding on all Member States irrespective of opting in or opting out.

    I disagree.

    Article 6
    (ex Article 6 TEU)
    1. The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
    The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.
    The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.

    The court can not use the charter to extend competences. As long as the area of immigration law remains a competence of the Irish State by Treaty agreement, the Court cannot override Irish law in that area.

    You must decide if you are loyal to the Irish state as an Irish citizen or if you are loyal to the emergent state of Europa as a European citizen (for that is what you are under the Treaty of Rome). Folks should decide it now because they’ll have a civil war between those who are Irish and those who have been successfully indoctrinated with the engineered nationality (and citizenship rights) of European if they wait until there is no democratic option to remove the false consciousness and the bribed from their shores.

    I reject the proposal that they are mutually exclusive. Many states accept dual-citizenship. Ireland is one. We do not require Irish passport holders to renounce any other citizenship they hold. Nor do we require our citizens to renounce their Irish citizenship if they accept the citizenship of another country.
    Despite that you continue to have a duty of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and your citizenship can be revoked, although I’m not aware of it ever happening.
    I have no problems with the idea of having fidelity and loyalty to both, if it ever came to a choice, and I don’t think it ever will, my primary fidelity is to Ireland.

    It is not necessary for a state to transfer its sovereignty to a third party in order to trade with another state – all that is necessary is for those states who wish to trade freely with each other not to impose tariffs on each other’s goods. The EU only has a single market in the same sense that every other ‘state’ has a single market. It is, in fact, not a free market but is a protectionist market imposes tariffs on goods produced outside of the ‘state’ – who in turn impose tariffs of goods produced within the EU’s protectionist market. In addition, it uses ‘standards’ (the CE mark) as a means of preventing goods from entering its protectionist market. This forces manufacturers who meet global safety standards to go to the considerable expense of seeking CE approval for their goods before they are allowed to sell them in the EU.

    Only if you believe in an unregulated market without democratic oversight. Yes, the common market is not a free market, it is a social market. Participation comes with rights and obligations greater than participation in the world market governed by the WTO.
    I think that is a strength, not a weakness. Weak as it is, at least there is some democratic oversight in the EU. Where do I go to elect the WTO Parliament, the ITU Parliament, the ILO Parliament, the UN Parliament? Each of those makes binding decisions on their participants too. Particularly in the case of the UN, the decisions can be revolutionary.

    its share of the global marketplace will have declined to 13%, and it will account for less than 6% of the global population.

    Still punching above its weight then. I’m hoping for the day when Africa’s share of the global market is roughly proportional to its share of the global population.

    … brainwash … treason … bribery … civil war …

    I completely reject such paranoid and incendiary language.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Directives, unlike decisions of the ECJ, are only binding on the Member States to whom they are addressed. The Irish government had declared that “It was agreed that, in light of the fact that it is not intended to opt in at this time, this proposal does not require further scrutiny at this stage.” The key phrase being “at this time” (the UK didn’t intend to opt in either).

    So, as it stands, Ireland retains de facto sovereignty in this area. That will not be the case if Lisbon is ratified, since, as you pointed out, the de jure sovereignty will be held by the ECJ if the Lisbon treaty is ratified. There is every likelihood that a case will be brought to the ECJ in another state under the Doctrine of Direct Effect or some other pretext; and that the decision of that court will be binding on all Member States irrespective of opting in or opting out.

    I disagree.

    Article 6
    (ex Article 6 TEU)
    1. The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
    The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.
    The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.

    The court can not use the charter to extend competences. As long as the area of immigration law remains a competence of the Irish State by Treaty agreement, the Court cannot override Irish law in that area.

    You must decide if you are loyal to the Irish state as an Irish citizen or if you are loyal to the emergent state of Europa as a European citizen (for that is what you are under the Treaty of Rome). Folks should decide it now because they’ll have a civil war between those who are Irish and those who have been successfully indoctrinated with the engineered nationality (and citizenship rights) of European if they wait until there is no democratic option to remove the false consciousness and the bribed from their shores.

    I reject the proposal that they are mutually exclusive. Many states accept dual-citizenship. Ireland is one. We do not require Irish passport holders to renounce any other citizenship they hold. Nor do we require our citizens to renounce their Irish citizenship if they accept the citizenship of another country.
    Despite that you continue to have a duty of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and your citizenship can be revoked, although I’m not aware of it ever happening.
    I have no problems with the idea of having fidelity and loyalty to both, if it ever came to a choice, and I don’t think it ever will, my primary fidelity is to Ireland.

    It is not necessary for a state to transfer its sovereignty to a third party in order to trade with another state – all that is necessary is for those states who wish to trade freely with each other not to impose tariffs on each other’s goods. The EU only has a single market in the same sense that every other ‘state’ has a single market. It is, in fact, not a free market but is a protectionist market imposes tariffs on goods produced outside of the ‘state’ – who in turn impose tariffs of goods produced within the EU’s protectionist market. In addition, it uses ‘standards’ (the CE mark) as a means of preventing goods from entering its protectionist market. This forces manufacturers who meet global safety standards to go to the considerable expense of seeking CE approval for their goods before they are allowed to sell them in the EU.

    Only if you believe in an unregulated market without democratic oversight. Yes, the common market is not a free market, it is a social market. Participation comes with rights and obligations greater than participation in the world market governed by the WTO.
    I think that is a strength, not a weakness. Weak as it is, at least there is some democratic oversight in the EU. Where do I go to elect the WTO Parliament, the ITU Parliament, the ILO Parliament, the UN Parliament? Each of those makes binding decisions on their participants too. Particularly in the case of the UN, the decisions can be revolutionary.

    its share of the global marketplace will have declined to 13%, and it will account for less than 6% of the global population.

    Still punching above its weight then. I’m hoping for the day when Africa’s share of the global market is roughly proportional to its share of the global population.

    … brainwash … treason … bribery … civil war …

    I completely reject such paranoid and incendiary language.

  • Neville Bagnall

    sorry for the double post – second page threw me.

  • Wilde Rover

    Mick,

    “Simply put, he argues that the question being asked by Lisbon is whether Ireland continues on a journey it first undertook back in the early 1970s, or not.”

    The electorate of Ireland, unlike the electorate of any other part of the EU, is being asked to consider the future direction of Europe. My understanding is that it’s back to the drawing board if it doesn’t work out, hopefully in consultation with the people of Europe.

    All this talk of the Lisbon Treaty being a vote on Ireland’s continued membership of the EU seems like fearmongering.

    If Europe is as democratic and enlightened as many claim, then a No vote will trigger a bout of soul searching for all the citizens of Europe and a new beginning for all.

    If, however, it is a quasi-Soviet state in the making as others claim then this too will become apparent in the fullness of time.

  • Mack

    Miriam –

    So we’re agreed there is no actual support for the doctrine of pre-emption in Lisbon. Relationships between countries are open-ended today. Lisbon could actually give Ireland a say in preventing military strikes by European countries.

    The USA has the NATO umbrella which it can use to garner military support when it has been attacked first, as was the case in Afghanistan. The US does not need the EU for that.

    When the USA tried to gain support for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, it was opposed, by France and Germany, whodothunkit?

  • Mack

    The electorate of Ireland, unlike the electorate of any other part of the EU, is being asked to consider the future direction of Europe

    Actually they’re not. They’re being asked to consider an amendment to the Irish Constituition which is why this is a purely Irish affair, and why Ireland remains sovereign. The future direction of Europe was negotiated by it’s elected representatives.

  • Neville Bagnall

    My understanding is that it’s back to the drawing board if it doesn’t work out, hopefully in consultation with the people of Europe.

    There will either be another Convention or another IGC.

    Lisbon is the grandchild of the last Convention, made up of elected representatives from the National and EU Parliaments plus ex-officio members.

    About the only way it could have been more consultative was if all the members of the Convention had been specifically elected for the purpose.

  • Wilde Rover

    Mack,

    “Actually they’re not. They’re being asked to consider an amendment to the Irish Constituition which is why this is a purely Irish affair, and why Ireland remains sovereign. The future direction of Europe was negotiated by it’s elected representatives.”

    That is all very well and good Mack, but if that is the case then why is the rest of the continent standing on the sidelines and shuffling their feet nervously?

    If this is, as you are suggesting, merely a prosaic parochial plebiscite, then why is there so much fuss?

    The future of Europe is too great a thing to rest on the heads of so few. That’s why the electorate of Ireland should reject this referendum, thereby forcing the electorates of the rest of the union to assume their responsibilities.

    Elected representatives are there to do the donkey work of the electorate, and that is why those who actually follow through are held in such high esteem. If major decisions are not down to the electorate then what’s the point?

  • Wilde Rover

    Neville Bagnall,

    “About the only way it could have been more consultative was if all the members of the Convention had been specifically elected for the purpose.”

    Yes, your internal logic is sound.

  • Wilde Rover

    Wilde Rover,

    If you have the time, I would be interested in how would you suggest the next Treaty be negotiated (irrespective of whether Lisbon is passed)

  • Mack

    Wilde Rover –

    The decision making process in other European nation states is a matter for them, if people there are not happy with the measures that exist in their home countries they can agitate for change. It is not our place to interfere or to second guess them.

    This election is an Irish election, not a European election (European referenda by rights should be EU wide, not per state). The fact that that a Yes vote would upset British Tories (or that No would annoy Sarkozy) is not something we should bother ourselves with. Whatever way you are voting, better to do it because you think it benefits Irish interests.

  • Wilde Rover

    If there needs to be an EU constitution then let it be printed, debated and voted on all across Europe.

    Mack,

    “This election is an Irish election, not a European election (European referenda by rights should be EU wide, not per state). The fact that that a Yes vote would upset British Tories (or that No would annoy Sarkozy) is not something we should bother ourselves with. Whatever way you are voting, better to do it because you think it benefits Irish interests.”

    If that’s the case and there is no thinking about the greater good of Europe and Me Feinism is the order of the day then by your logic the Irish electorate has Europe by the balls.

    Under that line of thinking Ireland should vote No until every person in the country gets a free shiny new Merc.

  • Neville Bagnall

    That was me that asked up above by the way, must have pasted the wrong name in.

    If there needs to be an EU constitution then let it be printed, debated and voted on all across Europe.

    There is already an EU constitution. It exists in the EU Treaties. It does not need to be a single document any more than the UK constitution does.

    Any legal sovereignty governed by the rule of law has as its constitution those documents that enumerate that sovereignty.
    The EU has legal sovereignty in all areas where exclusive or joint competence is conferred in the Treaties.

    At every stage of amendment that constitution has been negotiated, printed, signed, debated, voted upon and ratified.

    Each country has its own way of doing that.

    We hold referendums when competences change.

    Other countries do other things. Many have a constitutional court to decide what mechanism needs to be invoked.

    Germany does not hold referendums, in fact I think they may be outlawed in their constitution, I’m not sure, I may have imagined that, but they are certainly frowned upon.

    At least one other state (I can’t remember which one) requires that a constitutional bill be published and then Parliament dissolved. When the new Parliament convenes it must immediately either pass or reject the bill unamended.

    Each country has its own constitutional requirements.

    Imposing a common mechanism is more than just a federal move, it infringes on subsidiarity. There is no harmonizing reason why the states should decide ratification in the same way, it does not infringe on any of the common freedoms or discriminate against an EU citizen residing in another state, so subsidiarity says its up to the state to pick its own mechanism.

    It may be politically and democratically more desireable in our view, but it is not our right to impose that view on any other state.

    They must adopt that mechanism for themselves, using the democratic mechanisms available in their own state. e.g. by electing to government a party with a manifesto commitment to change the state constitution to require referendums.

  • Wilde Rover

    Neville Bagnall,

    “There is already an EU constitution. It exists in the EU Treaties. It does not need to be a single document any more than the UK constitution does.”

    I take your point but I still feel that if this is to become a federal Europe then a written constitution should be prepared and voted on. If some states are set against a referendum then let them vote on it in a way of their choosing.

    My overall point is that if there is to be a federal Europe then it would be better if it were decided upon in a transparent fashion. The current method seems like so much skulking in the shadows and it denies true legitimacy, in my opinion.

  • http://mediabite.org Miriam Cotton

    Mack
    The result of this vote affects 500,000,000 people most of whom – according to all previous votes – don’t want the treaty to go through. Their national governments have fixed it so that they don’t get a vote because the Lisbon Treaty isn’t for them – though it is very much about them. The lack of a right to vote in other member states is reason enough on its own for the Irish to turn the treaty down. On behalf of these dispossessed people we have to bear the consequences of what we do in mind.

    By the black and white provisions of this treaty we are clearly regarded as mere economic cannon fodder for the aspirations of multinational corporations whose cosy little club the EU now is. We are being sold the lie that what is good for them is good for us. The opposite is the case. While they do their utmost to turn us all into cheap labour and must pay them vast sums in corproate welfare, we have to pay more and more just to secure meagre health, education and other public services – all of which incidentally are set to be handed into the tender care of Mary Harney equivalents all over Europe. In fact the rumour is that Europe is to be her next stop careerwise. May God help us all.

    These companies are set to monopolise all of our natural resources to turn profits for a tiny number of shareholders – while paying derisory taxes. They are poised to do to the real world what their counterparts have done on the financial markets. They want to dictate and monopolise the use of land and how we grow food and to force mandatory medications on us – against which they are to be indemnified. This has already begun to happen. They want to strip us of our natural human autonomy and police us ever more oppressively. To be sure, the proposition is being swaddled in acres of waffle about needing to be ‘at the heart of the EU’. But the reality is that this is a contest between big buisness, government and their militaristic/ imperialist aspirations – and an EU populace that has been gagged. Twas ever thus. The former colonial powers, instead of fighting each other, are busy forming one big colonial club.

    The open-endedness of the militarisation and policing clauses is appalling. Coupled with the dictatorial nature of the obligations on member states to shut up and pay up for arming and training military and police forces who may be deployed throughout the EU, the Lisbon Treaty is poised to turn this region of the world into a grasping combatant state, a bomb and gun-toting companion for the US. This is described as ‘peace-making’ in the treaty, naturally. The EU/US is anticipating a little local difficulty about maintaining access to the Middle East’s resources for example. Army generals are saying they anticipate being there for, say, 40 years. As long as it takes for the oil and gas to run out in other words. So long as the US was going it alone France and Germany opposed the invasions. Now that some deals have been done and the big 4 have a slice of the action the EU is happy to help give the ME a kicking too. When those countries are tied down, it will be the turn of Latin America. The precursor to new invasions will be an Obama charm offensive – rapidly becoming one of the most alarming of signals in international relations.

    Looking at the demographics of the voting pattern in Ireland, it now looks as if the outcome lies in the hands of 100K or so of the smuggest and most closed-minded middle class voters ever seen, impenetrably indifferent – positively contemptuous in fact – of what this will do the majority of Europeans. Among the middle class in Ireland, poverty is regarded as a personal crime no matter that they are among those chiefly responsible for it very often. (SSIAs anyone? The greatest transfer of wealth from poor to rich until the bailouts came along.) These obedient little Europeans are very quick to snarl at the citizens of other EU jurisidctions entering a plea – who are told to mind their own business, that this is an Irish matter for Irish people!!! They know that in all probability they will secure a footing among the privileged top 20% whatever happens. They are encouraged in all of this by the most obscenely biased and equally smug media coverage imaginable – whose sole objective appears to be to finesse this outrage into smug blandishments for the smuggies to smug themselves into a smug yes vote.

  • Miriam

    Miriam –

    The result of this vote affects 500,000,000 people most of whom – according to all previous votes – don’t want the treaty to go through

    The result of the ratification process affects 500,00,000 people – not just this referendum, in which only Irish citizens have say (& should have a say) on our constituition.

    This is merely one internal Irish referendum. All of those people have input into the ratification process via their parliaments. Doesn’t the exemplify that there is no EU superstate? Isn’t that why you are desperately trying to pretend this is a European and not an Irish referendum?

    There has never been an EU wide referendum on The Lisbon Treaty, or the EU constituition before it, or any other treaty for that matter (there is no EU superstate remember?) . If there was – the result of such, may well surprise you (remember Spain voted 75% yes in it’s EU constitution referendum).

    Btw, take a look at how the parliaments voted on Lisbon, in all cases so far it has passed comfortably and in most cases the elected parliaments voted overwhelingly in favour (not a single vote against in Italy for example!).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Lisbon

  • Mack

    Miriam –

    The result of this vote affects 500,000,000 people most of whom – according to all previous votes – don’t want the treaty to go through

    The result of the ratification process affects 500,00,000 people – not just this referendum, in which only Irish citizens have say (& should have a say) on our constituition.

    This is merely one internal Irish referendum. All of those people have input into the ratification process via their parliaments. Doesn’t the exemplify that there is no EU superstate? Isn’t that why you are desperately trying to pretend this is a European and not an Irish referendum?

    There has never been an EU wide referendum on The Lisbon Treaty, or the EU constituition before it, or any other treaty for that matter (there is no EU superstate remember?) . If there was – the result of such, may well surprise you (remember Spain voted 75% yes in it’s EU constitution referendum).

    Btw, take a look at how the parliaments voted on Lisbon, in all cases so far it has passed comfortably and in most cases the elected parliaments voted overwhelingly in favour (not a single vote against in Italy for example!).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Lisbon

  • Mack

    Sorry about the double post – I put the name of the person I was responding too in the Name box by mistake (typing ahead of myself). Mod – feel to delete post 17 (accidentally signed Miriam by me)

    Miriam

    Looking at the demographics of the voting pattern in Ireland, it now looks as if the outcome lies in the hands of 100K or so of the smuggest and most closed-minded middle class voters ever seen, impenetrably indifferent – positively contemptuous in fact – of what this will do the majority of European

    Your contempt for the Irish electorate voting in an Irish election on the Irish constituition astounds me!

  • Mack

    Wilde Rover

    If that’s the case and there is no thinking about the greater good of Europe and Me Feinism is the order of the day then by your logic the Irish electorate has Europe by the balls.

    Under that line of thinking Ireland should vote No until every person in the country gets a free shiny new Merc.

    Every EU country has to ratify the Treaty, by your definition every parliament has Europe by the balls but if everyone has Europe by the balls then no-one has Europe by the balls.

    Irish people should vote on the Treaty on how it affects them, and this country.

    Let the other Europeans worry about how it affects themselves, and deal with through their own democratic channels.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Wilde Rover,

    My overall point is that if there is to be a federal Europe then it would be better if it were decided upon in a transparent fashion.

    I totally agree that in the manner of amending the Treaties, as in so many things about the EU, greater honesty and transparency is sorely needed. Unfortunately it is a political project and statesmanship is always a quality is short supply.

    One point though. This Treaty is not about creating an federal Europe. In fact I don’t expect we will have to decide on the question of federalism for decades and perhaps never.

    The european project is an evolving process from an intergovernmental organisation towards a federation. Right now in my opinion it is a confederation, although some would argue it is still an intergovernmental organisation.

    My thinking is as follows:

    It started out as an intergovernmental organisation, the ECSC, similar in structure to the UN.

    It began to evolve as it transformed into the EEC, but the first really significant transformations occured (or was recognised if you do not accept that the ECJ is/was an activist court) in the 1960s

    Van Gend en Loos 26/62 [1963] ECR 1

    “The [European Economic] Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which the [Member] States have limited their sovereign rights”.

    “The Court … has the jurisdiction to answer … questions referred that … relate to the interpretation of the treaty.”

    Costa v ENEL 6/64 [1964] ECR 585

    Community law takes precedence over the Member States own domestic law.

    They are the first court decisions that announced that joining the EEC implied pooling (or surrenduring if you prefer) legal sovereignity.

    So when we joined in 1973 the principle was well established and in the referendum the People gave their consent to the transfer of sovereignity, whether they realised it or not.

    But the EEC was still an intergovernmental organisation in my view.

    When the European Parliament was changed from an appointed body to an elected body in 1979 that was another step towards federation as it set the EEC Parliament apart from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, (NB The Council of Europe is not the same thing as the Council of the European Union) which remains appointed.

    But the EEC was still an intergovernmental organisation in my view as the Parliament was merely consulted.

    The Single European Act introduced the Cooperation procedure and the Assent procedure. There can be some argument that the new European Community created by the SEA was a confederation. I’m inclined to agree as the Parliament has an absolute power to reject a proposal for which assent is required. So the Council was no longer sovereign in those areas. There is also something delicious about realising that Margaret Thatcher negotiated the Treaty that moved the european project from intergovernmentalism to confederation.

    The final significant change came with the Maastricht Treaty which introduced the Codecision procedure. This has become the most common or Ordinary legislative procedure (as Lisbon would rename it). At this point there can be little doubt that the EU is a confederation as it has a directly elected Parliament that exercises significant legislative powers in the ordinary course of events.

    However, changing the Treaties in a way that transfers sovereignity from the member states requires the unanimity of the member states, and that is a defining distinction between confederation and federation. That does not change in Lisbon and will not change for decades in my estimation.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Miriam,

    You seem to be arguing for Referendums as the only way to measure the will of a nation or the European people.

    I just ask you to consider the following two scenarios:

    The first is that we have a single Europe wide referendum.

    In that case Spain (population 47 million) can override Ireland (population 4.5 million) with a voting margin of 10%.
    Spain approved the EU Constitution of which Lisbon is a subset by referendum 75%-25%; a margin of 50%.

    The second is that each nation has a separate Referendum for each member state.

    Then you are asking Belgium to replace a system of checks and balances where each of the following must assent:

    – Senate
    – Chamber of Representatives
    – Monarch
    – Walloon Parliament
    – Flemish Parliament
    – German-speaking Community
    – French Community
    – Brussels Regional Parliament
    – Brussels United Assembly
    – COCOF Assembly

    With a simple yes/no majority rules vote.

    There is a reason its a confederation and not a federation. There is no acceptable common mechanism for passing sovereign amendments except on the basis of Subsidiarity. Each State must make its own decision on how it will decide whether to ratify sovereign amendments.

    You claim all previous votes show that the majority is against. Well, Spain and Luxembourg had votes and were in favour.
    The majority of national opinion polls may be against, maybe even a Europe wide opinion poll. But opinion polls are not votes.
    If they were we would have passed the Constitution and Lisbon already.

    Your economic and social arguments are well known, and while I recognise and agree with some of your foundational points I do not agree with your developed argument nor your predictions. That may make me a “smuggie”, that is for others to decide, but I hope I give every argument a fair hearing and evaluation based on what little experience and knowledge I have or can accumulate. I’m not sure what more any citizen can do.

  • Miriam Cotton

    Neville

    This treaty establishes a European constitution so a direct vote is not just appropriate but the only way to make it democratically legitimate.

  • Neville Bagnall

    I think you will find plenty of Constitutions have been adopted without a referendum. Three that spring to mind are those of Saorstát Éireann, the USA and Germany.