Reasons to vote against Lisbon…

Earlier today I spoke to Naoise Nunn, once (and possibly again) of this parish. These days he’s executive director of Libertas, a think tank and pressure group that seems to be successfully applying some attention to the issue of the Lisbon referendum due to take place on June 12th. He’s been travelling recently in the north and west of the Republic and reports that they are getting positive responses from people who whilst happy with the EU and the benefits it has brought them, are expressing increasing disquiet about some of the ways in which Irish sovereignty might be compromised. Not least in term of it’s tax policy. More over at Brassneck.

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  • Jer

    Mick,
    You state that Libertas are making the intellectual running on the treaty. I think they are running a campaign that is being lapped up by the media. Cast a critical eye over how often SF are being covered as part of the debate.Sporadic and their input is often ignored. Libertas is a god send for those who would rather report on anyone but Sinn Fein and thats an element of whats happening here. Libertas may not like it but the fact that a mandated political party is in their corner is one of the few things stopping the Libertas campagin from collapsing under accusations of being a business interest group.

  • ulsterfan

    Now is the time for Irishmen to show they are good Europeans. Think of the Billions they took from Europe, as was their right, and now some are complaining about he loss of a Commissioner and harmonisation of taxes. Shame on them. What good did their sovereignty provide when the economy was in a dreadful state. It is more important to have the BMW and second home in Spain than worry about a little matter of sovereignty.
    I thought SF would know this.

  • Oilifear

    “Think tank”, Mick? My trusty OED describes a think tank as “a body of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems.” Neither can they truly be called a “pressure group” (“a group that tries to influence public policy in the interest of a specific cause”). They themselves describe themselves as an “institute” (“a society or organisation having a particular objective or common factor, esp. a scientific, educational, or social one”) – rather lofty a term, but at least one approaching reality.

    What they are is an anti-Lisbon group – which is a fair thing to be – but, from what I heard and read of them, a particularly nasty, underhanded, scare-mongering and (I’m genuinely assuming the best of them when I say this) ignorant bunch of self-aggrandiding cranks.

    Ulsterfan, fair enough points in terms of loyalty to Europe – but how can a “good European” vote in conscience for Lisbon when it is a rehash of the Constitution that was shot down already by the electorate in France and the Netherlands then pulled before it when down any further? Do we not owe loyalty to our fellow Europeans before the institutions of Europe? Should we not reject it, regardless of our own opinion, on principle through loyalty to them? Their voices (yours included) has been silenced. Now we along have the opportunity to speak on behalf of all Europeans. Would the truly “good European”, whatever his opinion, not speak on behalf of his silenced comrades in such a situation, even to his own detriment?

  • Mick Fealty

    Remember the no ad hominem rule guys. You know it makes sense.

    Jer,

    I wanted to kick in a quote from Mary Lou’s op ed piece in the IT today, but apart from her point about the Republic not having an opt out from the European Defence Agency, it seemed a little dense (on reflection, I perhaps should have included that particular point).

    Perhaps SF could learn from Libertas’s discursive style. Since the camp is so small, they’d be better looking for synergies, or tag teaming it that getting too picky over who’s taking the lead at any one time.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    can we have the hundreds of billions back that the Europeans have taken out and will take out of our waters as part of the “good Europeans” deal?

  • Check out this little ‘footnote of a footnote’ from Cramer:

    Lisbon Treaty introduces EU-wide death penalty

    Buy(sic) Cranmer thinks it noteworthy that the death penalty is reintroduced for political offences, even as vague and undefined as ‘unrest’, but not for serial killers, rapists, paedophiles or child murderers.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    While the MSM may have declared Libertas as the ‘official opposition’ mainly ignoring groups like The Campaign Against the EU Constitution (which does include SF, though they do seem more interested in trying to tap the issue for party gain than the broader platform)Libertas will be eventually found wanting being a media/business operation unabled to work against the FF machine of door knockers. Libertas are media candy-floss, this battle goes to the street and they have no impact there. And I can’t help but think that may have been the intention.

  • Dave

    Mark, you’re not far wrong. The MSM and the main political parties are attempting to portray support for the treaty as being positive and progressive position to take (not needing any further illumination that those shallow associations), and portraying those who are opposed to the treaty as being a minority of troublesome and extremist cranks (the types of blackguards who would knock down and sit on an “elderly gentleman” for example).

    The strategy of the government is to sell the advantages of being a member of the EU rather than to focus on the surrender of sovereignty. This irrelevant since the treaty is not a vote on our membership of the EU. As Tom McGurk pointed out in the SBP, we are surrendering our sovereignty and right to self-determination in a multiplicity of areas, “Who can deny that Lisbon will utterly transform law-making in the EU? It envisages the EU- as opposed to the Dáil – making new laws in some 30 new areas, including civil and criminal law, justice and policing, public services, immigration, energy, transport, tourism, space, sport, culture, civil protection, intellectual property, public health and the EU budget.” Worse, if we support the Lisbon Treaty, we will lose our tax sovereignty in due course despite bogus reassurances from the EU that our veto in this area will not be useless post tax base consolidation. That means that we cannot continue to set our corporation tax at a rate that is more competitive than other EU countries, meaning that out 12.5% will vanish and with it, having devastating effects on the Irish economy. The Lisbon Treaty is tantamount to a traitor’s charter… and it is pushed on us by shallow quislings who would sell out their own country for fear of being ridiculed by other countries for returning a No vote.

  • I wonder what the motivation is for those bankrolling Libertas – multimillionaires with extensive business links to Russia, just one of several world powers not inclined to look kindly on a more cohesive Europe Union of nations able to act together.

  • ulsterfan

    George

    In making your point there is a danger of exaggerating.
    “hundreds of billions”– I don’t think hake is that valuable.
    If I were you I would keep an eye on gas and oil deposits off the west coast but even then the value would not run into hundreds of billions.

  • Mark McGregor

    The majority of the ‘NO’ campaign that will put people on the ground is the broader left. This focus on a business argument that the media is homing in on over established groups seems like an attempt to dilute the ‘Left’ voice on this discussion.

    I wouldn’t trust these Libertas folks as far as i could buy their blogs/forums for my campaign.

  • Garibaldy

    Mark is totally correct to point out that it is actually the left that will fight the campaign on the ground. Nevertheless, if Libertas’ right-wing arguments help defeat the Treaty by turning more voters against it, then I’m happy to see them working away, whatever their motivations

  • Mick Fealty

    This conversation (Gari excepted) reminds me of Behan’s famous line about ‘the split’ being the first thing on the agenda. Then there’s Michael Moore’s observation that if you actually want to get things done, you have ask your practical conservative neighbour to do it for you.

    Just sayin’, like. 😉

    Night all…

  • Wilde Rover

    Ulsterfan,

    “In making your point there is a danger of exaggerating. “hundreds of billions”– I don’t think hake is that valuable.”

    Fish are supposed to be a renewable resource. Considering the current food crisis I would say that George’s figure might be considered conservative.

  • BfB

    Wow
    Behan and Moore in the same sentence…
    How about Rod Serling…

  • Dave

    Oh Mick is just doing his patented ‘nice people sit on the fence’ act.

    Ulsterfan, most of the money (90%) that Ireland received from the EU went to the farmers (and to the top 20% of them). It’s irrelevant anyway, since Ireland is moving to become a net cash contributor to the EU (having already given more to the EU than we have taken from it by other means, as George pointed out). The issues of sovereignty don’t just affect Ireland, so Unionists who take pleasure in the diminution of Irish sovereignty should be cognisant of the fact that a similar loss will occur to the United Kingdom.

    In the end, it comes down to whether or not people believe that they should make decisions for themselves, taking account of their own interests and circumstances, or whether those decisions should be made by others (who were not elected by them and who are not accountable to them) without regard to those interests and circumstances, applying a generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ template. If people really believed that local politics and democracy is irrelevant to them, then why did they go to such pains to bring local democracy back to Northern Ireland? If you think that the EU can make laws about parades, and impose them on you and do a better job of it, then fine – but keep in mind that if the British government can make a mess of decisions that they impose on you, then the EU can screw it up even more.

  • Mick Fealty

    No Dave. Mick is simply asking people to stick to substance of an argument, rather shoot off to ad hominem heaven (follow the link above if you don’t get what that means). Why? Because little of what arises from such distractions actually tackle the issues at the heart of the matter.

  • ulsterfan

    Wild Rover

    I understand a billion is one thousand million and whether it refers to sterling or euros it is a huge sum.
    There is no question of hundreds of billions being lost to Ireland through granting fishing rights to other European countries. I only mention this in the interests of accuracy.

    Dave

    I have yet to see figures to suggest that while Ireland may become a net contributor it still has not paid into Euro coffers more than it has received since joining EU.
    It is easy to make general/vague statements but another matter to prove same.
    This opposition to Europe does not come as a surprise.
    Lets take all we can and when the membership sub is due we can do a runner. We use Europe for our own selfish needs and not for the good of Europe.
    This is a minority view and in the end the sensible people of Ireland will stand up for Europe.

  • good grief

    Dave,

    “..we will lose our tax sovereignty in due course despite bogus reassurances from the EU that our veto in this area will not be useless post tax base consolidation..”

    On what basis do you make this claim. Elsewhere i have read that Ireland has a permanent veto over tax harmonisation. Should this change, we could pull out. What would the EU do,…invade ??

    I read similar scaremongering on the subject of neutrality. Respect for Ireland’s neutrality is included in the treaty.

  • “Unionists who take pleasure in the diminution of Irish sovereignty”

    Do you know any? I, for one, am actually quite worried, on the basis that you mention, i.e. “a similar loss will occur to the United Kingdom”.

  • good grief

    ps…for tax sovereignty think of Eurozone membership and the UK. A coalition of the willing may press ahead (although there seems to be a split btw the French Finance Minister and Sarkozy on this matter) while the Irish will opt out. It’s back to “two-speed Europe” …I imagine Ireland and the UK will act in harmony to on this matter. No UK govt (or Irish !)will relinquish control over setting taxe rates wnor would they become subordinate to EU defence / foreign policy. The Irish, for different reasons, will not either.

    I think we’re (Irl & UK) pretty close on this one.

  • Oilifear

    Mick, just so we’re clear, to call anyone (“from what I heard and read of them”) “a particularly nasty, underhanded, scare-mongering and … ignorant bunch of self-aggrandiding cranks” says nothing about the substance of their argument, merely their character (and explicitly nothing more than my perseption of it). When immediately preceeded by the statement that “[what] they are is an anti-Lisbon group – which is a fair thing to be”, it cannot, in fairness, be called argument ad hominem.

  • The issue of corporate tax rates is a complete red herring. One of the basic principles of the EU is social and economic solidarity. What this means is that countries and regions are supported when they are less prosperous, and become net contributors when they are prosperous. It is a modern version of Thomas More’s Utopian motto: “From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.”

    So, if the south gets an economic advantage from its low tax rates it will (as we now see) become a net contributor to the EU budget. If the tax advantage is removed, to the south’s detriment, it becomes a net recipient. In a sense, the ability to set a low corporate tax rate, and thereby to attract FDI, is in the EU’s interest – it needs to contribute less in structural funding to the south (and in fact recieves a net contribution) and the EU as a whole receives more FDI.

    The EU knows (as do we all) that a small island without much natural resources has very few other options, and without the tax advantage the only way Ireland could compete is through drastically lower labour costs, and a reduced standard of living. While a move up the knowledge ladder is possible, it is no more likely in Ireland than elsewhere, so would not change the south’s relative economic position much.

    Any attempt to remove the south’s corporate tax ‘advantage’ would be counter-productive and probably cause a net loss for the EU, so it is unlikely to be pushed very hard.

  • Dave

    “Mick is simply asking people to stick to substance of an argument, rather shoot off to ad hominem heaven (follow the link above if you don’t get what that means).” – Mick Fealty

    Heaven or ad hominem? Dave is just asking like, ‘coz he’d hate to think that you were insulting his (modest) intellect, and thereby unwittingly insulting your (immense) intellect with the (dramatically ironic) ad hominem.

    “I have yet to see figures to suggest that while Ireland may become a net contributor it still has not paid into Euro coffers more than it has received since joining EU. It is easy to make general/vague statements but another matter to prove same.” – Ulsterfan

    And your ignorance of the facts is a flaw in my argument? Would it kill you to use Google? The claims vary: some say we became a net contributor last year, whereas Bertie “Please Give Me A Job In Europe” Ahern says “We anticipate that we will become a net contributor to the EU budget near the end of the seven-year period.” (Which would be circa 2010). At any rate, Ireland received a mere 41 billion from the EU since 1973, accounting for a tiny percentage of GDP (between 1.4% and to its highest percentage of 5.9 in 1979). Ireland’s GDP is 166 billion, so even if we got this 41 billion Euros in one large chunk instead of being spread over 35 years, it still wouldn’t amount to a quarter of our current GDP. Don’t overestimate the importance of tiny single digit chump change to Ireland’s economic growth. The only people who made any money out of the EU’s grants were the farmers.

    “This opposition to Europe does not come as a surprise.”- Ulsterfan

    Why would it? Most folks understand what democracy, sovereignty, independence and self-determination mean. I think most of them recognise that they’ll look pretty damn stupid celebrating the 100th anniversary of 1916 if they have managed to squander their hard-won right to sovereignty, independence and self-determination within 100 years. And if they don’t, there will be plenty of people to remind them when the times comes.

    “Lets take all we can and when the membership sub is due we can do a runner.”- Ulsterfan

    Is the Lisbon Treaty a vote on our membership of the EU? It isn’t, so we will not be voting to withdraw, contrary to your misunderstanding of the nature of the poll.

    “We use Europe for our own selfish needs and not for the good of Europe.”- Ulsterfan

    Now you are being to understand how competitive nation states operate. And isn’t it well for you that nation states put their own interests and the interests of their own citizens before the interests of other nations? Imagine if the UK taxpayers beleived that hospitals in Estonia were a greater priority than the £7 billion in subvention that they lavish on you lot? There you are, acting as a parasite on the prosperity of others instead of insisting that the greater needs of others in far away regions should come become your needs, eh? Damn, aren’t you the selfish one – and you almost sounded like a secular saint for a moment!

    “This is a minority view and in the end the sensible people of Ireland will stand up for Europe.”- Ulsterfan

    The sensible people will recognise that Irish people have created one of the world’s most successful economies and they will vote to retain sovereignty for the Irish people, rather than surrendering it to a bunch of second-rate career hacks in Europe who have not created one of the world’s most successful economies. The question is whether or not the sensible people are now outnumbered by the brainwashed middle classes and the quislings who think that wealth just fell out of the skies along with the rain upon the hapless Irish because goodwill voodoo dancers in the EU did a little rain dance to make it all happen – and because it’s the luck (and nothing but luck) of the Irish that created vast wealth. We’ll see – it’s a close call.

    “Do you know any? I, for one, am actually quite worried, on the basis that you mention, i.e. “a similar loss will occur to the United Kingdom”.”

    Yes, Beano. Plenty of Unionists object to Irish sovereignty and the right to self-determination. I believe this resulted in partition. The attitude is still prevalent among some Unionists (and I qualified the sentence when I wrote it).

  • Dave

    [b]Continued:[/b]

    “On what basis do you make this claim. Elsewhere i have read that Ireland has a permanent veto over tax harmonisation. Should this change, we could pull out. What would the EU do,…invade ??” – good grief

    Pull out of the EU because we were hoodwinked in a conspiracy between the Barroso and Bertie on the issue of taxation? No, we can’t pull out of the EU under any circumstances, and we should never think that we could. What we must do is call a halt to the integration of member states into one super state, and return the EU to first principles, i.e. that it is a common market for our good and services and not a common country with one people, one parliament, one flag, and one army – which is the way it is heading in the EU’s patented step-by-step approach. This is why we must vote against this rehashed constitution. The problem with the Common Consolidated Corporation Tax Base is that our veto will be useless when it comes to tax harmonisation. The complexities of the proposed system will mean that Ireland will lose a portion of its tax revenue to other member states where the business deal takes place, rather than where the business is based. This is very bad news because it means that multinationals based in Ireland will have to pay a portion of their tax where the goods are sold, leaving a shortfall in tax revenue in Ireland which can only be compensated for by upward mobility in Ireland’s corporation tax rate. So, we will lose our tax sovereignty, de facto, because we will be forced to increase our tax rate by the change, even though we will still have tax sovereignty de jure – for the interim. Similar market forces post tax harmonisation will force us to relinquish the veto de jure in due course and this is all the patented process of how the EU goes about the business of stealing sovereignty from member states by stealth. Most companies and business federations support the CCCTB, and they will want to see it enforced throughout the EU (since that is the whole purpose of the ‘consolidation’) so we will be swimming against the tide on this one. The CCCTB is separate to the Lisbon Treaty (being postponed until after it so that Irish voters would not be aware of its affects), but if we vote against the treaty, then we also sink the CCCTB – de facto but not de jure (just for a change).

    “One of the basic principles of the EU is social and economic solidarity. What this means is that countries and regions are supported when they are less prosperous, and become net contributors when they are prosperous.” – Horseman

    Save your principles for church and for charity work. They don’t exist in the EU.

  • Dava

    … Save your principles for church and for charity work. They don’t exist in the EU.

    I have little interest in charity, and none whatsoever in churches. The EU’s principles are well spelt out in all of its treaties. The simple fact is that the largest part of the EU budget is spent on redistributive measures, either structural or agricultural.

  • (I meant Dave, of course)

  • good grief

    Dave,

    I think you’re overstating the interests of businesses in a CCTB. To summarise, they like their tax environments to stay murky ! Heavy Regulation and over transparency are unnatractive operating environments for multinationals. I’ll bet that regardless of Lisbon this will be sunk by the multinational lobby.

    It’s also seperate from Lisbon, the CCTB is to be tabled in Autumn, the result of Irelands Lisbon vote is academic. To suggest otherwise is to place to much importance on an Irish treaty. The French will table this motion with their presidency either way.

    I think you’re scaremongering (yes, i believe that is the main tactic of the No lobby) on behalf of a No vote by dragging in unrelated issues.

    However, in relation to the CCTB:

    From Sean Whelan, RTE Europe Editor:
    I believe it is not going to make it as an EU policy, because the current system suits too many governments and companies, both of whom see advantages in a lack of transparency. In the Irish case, I cannot see a change in Government policy, unless the multinational companies see advantages in a harmonised system: if they threaten to pull out of Ireland because it is not using CCTB, then expect a change. But right now there is no sign of that, because this draft directive has not even been published, let alone put into action.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    on average 2.4 billion euros worth of fish are taken out of our waters each year by non-Irish vessels.

    Even at the best of times we got a lot less than 2.4 billion a year in EU funding. (NI got in one year in 1998 from the UK exchequer in subsidies what the Republic got in its six-year tranche 1992-1998)

    We only have 4% of the quota but own 16% of EU water. We were shafted.

    Also, the fishing rights are for 200 years so it is actually trillions. That’s thousands of thousands of milions.

  • Brian Boru

    I’m getting quite confident now that this treaty will be defeated. The key difference from past referenda is that this time, we have a treaty that has been defeated in not one, but 2 EU member states in referenda. Bertie Ahern has admitted this document is 95% the same as the defeated EU Constitution. Everyone knows he is a candidate for the new post of President of the European Council, and that fact undermines his credibility when arguing for Lisbon, as many suspect he is singing for his supper. I am pro-EU, but this is not a referendum on out membership of the EU. A key mistake being made by the yes campaign is that 99% of their arguments are about the benefits of EU membership and trying to cast aspersions on the personalities of the no campaign like Declan Ganley and Ulick McEvaddy. As shown in the recent General Election, this kind of smear-tactic backfires on its instigators. I will be voting no mainly because of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Constitutional law expert Gerard Hogan SC has claimed the Charter could eclipse the Irish Constitution if Lisbon passes, as the Charter – which Britain and Poland have opted-out from – will be legally-binding in the rest of the EU including Ireland. I am not happy with the notion that the ECJ will have precedence over the Irish Supreme Court. I don’t want a court in another country determining my rights, my country’s immigration and asylum policy (we have enough legal challenges on this already in our own courts), industrial relations policies etc. The Charter states that “collective expulsions are forbidden”, and this could be used to bring asylum under the remit of the ECJ.

    I am also opposed to the abolition of 68 vetoes, including public health, energy, tourism and sports, cultural policy, as well as the statutes of EU institutions including the ECJ and ECB and EIB. This could potentially lead to the ending of permanent Irish representation on these bodies like with the European Commission. It could also mean the imposition of nuclear power on Ireland and the end of what little remains of our legislative independence. And while the veto on tax is not explicitly given up by Lisbon, this is undermined by Article 93, which bans ‘distortions of competition’ – a potential code-word for the Irish corporate tax rate of 12.5%. In the end, how this is interpreted will come down to how the ECJ interprets it. I am not prepared to trust this to a court that since 1993 has interpreted the Rome Treaties ban on discrimination based on nationality as allowing for harmonisation of taxes. Vote no.

  • Brian Boru

    “good grief”, RTE’s impartiality is debatable. But on CCCTB, the EU Tax Commissioner Laslo Kovacs has already claimed that 2/3rds of member states support his plans, and that he may get around a national veto using Enhanced Cooperation, which allows 9+ states to go ahead with the policy on their own. If that were to happen, it is feared it could force the Irish govt to renegotiate double-taxation agreements, possibly on much less favourable terms to the Irish taxpayer. The problem for the govt and the yes side in the media is that when they make one argument to reassure us, EU officials and foreign EU govts say the opposite.