Next Referendum: inside Europe, or out?

Fintan asked yesterday, and Mary Lou replied today (subs needed). She won’t be going to renegotiate a new treaty for the Republic with Europe. But she has a drawn up a list that’s more remarkable for its length than its detail. I won’t comment on them directly, other than to note that since the Republic has already assented to the change from the first thing on the list (all countries to retain a Commissioner) in the Nice Treaty, it is unlikely that any Irish government will make headway on that particular aspect.

• The retention of a permanent commissioner for all member states;

• The retention of the Nice Treaty formulae for qualified majority voting;

• The removal of all eight self-amending articles including the simplified revision procedure in Article 48;

• The removal of Article 46a giving the EU a single legal personality;

• A strengthened protocol on the role of member state parliaments;

• A significantly expanded protocol on the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality including the aims and values of the EU;

• Substantial amendments to aspects of the Common Foreign and Security Policy;

• Substantial amendments to the section of Common Defence and Security Policy;

• A new protocol on neutrality;

• A strengthened social clause;

• A substantially revised protocol on vital public services;

• Amendments to articles dealing with public services and state aid;

• The inclusion of the European Trade Union Confederation Social Progress Clause to protect workers’ rights;

• A protocol on Irish tax sovereignty;

• Substantial amendments on Article 188 dealing with international trade agreements including a cast-iron veto on mixed World Trade Organisation agreements;

• A new protocol ending Ireland’s participation in the European Atomic Energy Community;

• A series of amendments to Articles 10 and 188 promoting the needs of the developing world in the context of international trade.

She concludes:

Politics is the art of the possible. When entering any negotiation one must be both ambitious and realistic. Crucially, you must gather around you as much support as you can, both domestically and in other member states, to secure the most advantageous outcome.

Fair enough. Although, there is a touch of the back seat driver about all of this, since Sinn Fein won’t have any responsibility for pulling it off. It’s one of the few blessings of being in opposition.

However Wolfgang Munchau had a fascinating take on the possible outworkings of the current situation:

The No vote leaves the country with exactly two alternatives. One is a humiliating U-turn, consisting of a Yes vote in a second referendum without a material change of circumstances. The other is that Ireland could lose its full EU membership if the second referendum produces another No victory.

At the time I read it was sceptical of that second clause. But as Bridget Laffan notes in today’s Irish Times that possibility is real enough. She outlines two possible scenarios. The first a referendum, which she rules out in the short term at least. The second is a more detailed explanation of the scenario Munchau has in mind if all the other states ratify the treaty. In which case:

…the treaty will apply to 26 states with a bilateral treaty setting out Ireland’s relations to the 26. Just how this will be accomplished is far from clear but the Union has long experience of accommodating those states that want or need special arrangements.

The existing Union is replete with “opt-in” and “opt-out” clauses. This would deliver Ireland into a second tier of EU engagement, something that was always regarded as against our essential interests.

The other member states will make every effort to accommodate Ireland’s needs and concerns but there are limits to accommodation as the EU is a partnership of 27 states and the needs of one will never be allowed trump the needs of the Union.

That’s the brick wall this SF strategy (where the government minded to be guided by it) would likely hit. Of course it depends on what the deal breakers are. If its ‘the removal of all eight self-amending articles including the simplified revision procedure in Article 48’, you begin to sense just how far outside the EU internal machine a future Irish government is likely find itself under new associate membership. And that’s only if it can win another referendum on the renewed basis.

Munchau has an alternative though:

An alternative would be a referendum with a differently worded question, such as: “Do you want to remain in the EU on the basis of the Lisbon treaty?” Of course, this bundles two questions many people would like to answer separately. Yes, stay in the EU, No to Lisbon. But folding the two into a single question is politically more honest because it is Ireland’s only real-world choice.

Stark? Yes. Realistic? Undeniably so. When the warm glow fades after the NO vote of last Thursday, the people of the Republic may soon discover that a national mandate brings with it some tough (possibly very lonely) choices.

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  • kensei

    Mick

    But she has a drawn up a list that’s more remarkable for its length than its detail.

    Considering people have been asking what Ireland really wants changed from Lisbon, it’s not actually a bad stab at an answer. And a broad sweep seems appropriate for me when talking to a general audience via a newspaper. For a start, you don’t want to tie your hands too much in a negotiation (or opposition thereof).

    And besides, having a big list means you are more likely top be able to walk away saying “Well I couldn’t get it all, but we got….”

    On the second half, forcing the question into “Do you want to be in the EU or not?” strikes me as a very high stake game. It shatters some of the principles at the heart of the EU, and I think some other countries, particularly the smaller ones might be somewhat uncomfortable with it. The outworkings of such a move could ultimately break the Union.

    As an aside, in any case, I inherently have suspicion when people say there are no choices but the one they are offering.

  • Siphonophore

    “… since the Republic has already assented to the change … ”

    No. The government agreed to the treaty the Republic just said no or don’t you understand the political system in Ireland at all?

  • Mick Fealty

    Spihonophore:

    The cutting of Commissioners was covered by the Nice Treaty. So it was signed off by the Republic. Do try and keep up! 🙂

    On the legal personality of the EU (and the abolition of the EC), this guy’s good: http://url.ie/gfy.

    Ken:

    “…strikes me as a very high stake game.”

    Yes. Though I’m not sure a Referendum question could be worded like that, that could easily be the crux of the proposition (whether a referendum was held or not).

    This all depends of course on whether the ratifications are concluded successfully in the other 26.

    Intriguingly, if this stasis were to drag on until the Tories win the next election, we could be looking at two countries dropping out, and letting the rest get on with it.

  • Siphonophore: as Mick says, the capping of the Commission’s size has already been decided and ratified through the Nice Treaty.

    Now that Lisbon is redundant the procedure is that the Council of Ministers will agree a new formula in council, as provided for by Nice, rather than having it ratified as part of a treaty. One option, as this discussion has it, the reduction will be to 18, as was proposed in Lisbon anyway.

  • George

    High risk game indeed but if the EU is saying that Ireland actually has no choice but to do it their way (in other words the referendum was a sham vote all along) then more people might edge more towards out than Herr Munchau thinks.

  • Greenflag

    mick .

    ‘Intriguingly, if this stasis were to drag on until the Tories win the next election, we could be looking at two countries dropping out’

    And then Ireland (ROI)’s last case will be worse than our first . Not a likely scenarion imo as the Lords will pass the ratification bill despite some Tory objections .

    ‘and letting the rest get on with it’

    In which case the rest will get on with it .

    Munchau is right and speaking the harsh political truth when he says

    ‘it is Ireland’s only real-world choice’

    Despite kensei’s understandable comment i.e

    ‘I inherently have suspicion when people say there are no choices but the one they are offering.’

    The facts of realpolitik for small countries is just that often having Hobson’s choice. Whether it’s Trimble ‘dithering ‘ over the GFA or Paisley trying to face down Blair or Cowen trying to face down 26 other heads of governments there are times when there is no other realistic choice. There is of course political and national self destruction which is apparently not a popular course in modern democracies.

    Some people may think this is a high risk game . Not for the EU it isn’t .It is however for Ireland . How would we be reacting if we had ratified and one small country say Slovenia or the Czechs were insistent on the EU going back to the starting line of 7 years ago ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Lords have passed it tonight. Czechs are the next place to watch.

    George,

    Think GF has it right there. But there is nothing to stop the Republic from going for some kind of associate status. They could just settle for status quo in the wake of the Irish vote. But if you look at it from the other end of the democratic telescope, why should they?

    Closer to home, it looks like at least one of the YES lobby has got problems on the way: http://url.ie/ggl.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    Surely that must be some kind of doomsday scenario. I don’t think Ireland renegotiating it’s membership status with Europe is on the table for anyone who has a vaguely sane approach to this matter. Ireland’s economic growth lately has been because of, not in spite of, the position it occupies in Europe. To throw all that away would be insane.

  • George

    Mick,
    Ireland isn’t going to voluntarily downgrade its status to “associate membership”. Why should it?

    So the only way the EU can do that is if all 26 other states ratify a new deal that specifically excludes Ireland.

    This can’t be achieved via the other 26 simply ratifying Lisbon. That is the realpolitik of the situation.

    I think it will be interesting seeing the EU trying to get all 26 other countries to ratify a new deal that has as one of its prime objectives the exclusion of Ireland as a full EU member.

    That’s a nasty precedent to be setting.

  • Dave

    It’s quite cute that folks are announcing that the democratic will of the Irish people will not be respected by the EU as if this is a recent discovery rather than one which was formally declared by the EU on February 20th 2008 during the debate on the Corbett-de Vigo Report on the Lisbon Treaty wherein Amendment No. 32 asked the parliament to undertake to respect the outcome of the referendum in Ireland.” 499 MEPs voted against the amendment, 33 MEPs abstained, and only 129 voted in favour of respecting the democratic will of the Irish people. The only Irish MEP to vote against respecting the democratic will of the Irish people was Proinsias de Rossa, who hit the headlines when he assaulted a member of the public who challenged him about his act of disloyalty to the Irish people, claiming that he was, in fact, assaulted by that member of the public (a line that the servile Irish media were happy to promote because it created sympathy for rabid Euro-federalists and cast Irish patriots in the role of aggressor).

    The choice folks have is whether they want to be a sovereign independent nation state or a colonised region of the EU. It is a myth to suggest that you need to trade sovereignty in order to trade within the EU and it is also a myth to suggest that there is any financial benefit to our membership (and pure fantasy to suggest that democracy must be forfeited for baubles, anyway). As Prof Ray Kinsella recently pointed out, the proposed CCTB will cost Ireland up to 50,000 jobs. Other losses to Ireland will occur when the Irish taxpayers pay the bribes that are enticing Eastern European counties to join. And just to make the point that the EU ‘sum is greater than the parts’ myth that sustains the EU is a farce, ask yourself who earned the money that was given to the Irish farmers (who received 90% of all funds that Ireland received from the EU): it wasn’t earned by economies of scale, it was earned by price fixing within the EU with the consumer paying higher prices for their food, limiting the amount of disposal income that would have generated enterprise elsewhere.

    We would be far better off without this EU milestone around our necks (which even the EU doesn’t claim has any justification for its existence as a sovereign entity other than the farcical claim that the member states of the EU would be busy waging war on each other if they weren’t buy pooling their sovereignty).

  • Dave

    Typo: Amendment No. 32 asked the parliament to [i]”undertake to respect the outcome of the referendum in Ireland.”[/i]

  • Mick Fealty

    George,

    Ultimately it will be a matter for the people of the Republic. And the government will have to have a major part in crafting whatever proposition gets put back to the people.

    But, and this is a serious problem for the government: the inchoate response of the pubilc will make it difficult for Ireland assemble a coherent shopping list (as Mary Lou’s list demonstrates).

    Whatever deal is struck, next time the negatives will be much more self evident next time round. Martin Turner just about has it down pat in the Times today… a table for one, in the smoking zone outside the restaurant (and no control of what goes on the menu).

    A national mandate is national, not international. It’s not entirely safe to assume what might or might not happen within a year or 18 months. I for one would not assume that a twin track Europe requires another Treaty.

  • “Mick,
    Ireland isn’t going to voluntarily downgrade its status to “associate membership”. Why should it?

    So the only way the EU can do that is if all 26 other states ratify a new deal that specifically excludes Ireland.”

    And that new deal would essentially involve secession from the existing European Union and recreating it. There is simply no mechanism to push any State out of the existing European Union and it is telling that those who push that argument cite no Articles of the Treaties on European Union to argue how it might be done.

  • kensei

    Mick

    This all depends of course on whether the ratifications are concluded successfully in the other 26.

    Intriguingly, if this stasis were to drag on until the Tories win the next election, we could be looking at two countries dropping out, and letting the rest get on with it.

    You are conflating the British Right and the Irish No campaign. The British Right have been speaking for Ireland the last few days: last time I checked, they didn’t get a say. They are not the same. It is copletely wrong to conflate the two.

    Ireland is not interested in leaving the EU, and the No campaign was specifically based on the fact that there was zero danger of that happening based on the EU’s own treaties and rules

    The realpolitk is slightly more complicated than the other 26 ratifying can force Ireland into a Hobson’s choice. They can of course do that, but effectively it’s an admission that the EU no longer respects the sovereignty of the component nation states or its own treaties and laws, any veto negotiated is worthless and can be overridden and that big countires will override smaller ones when and if they choose. That is an astonishingly dangerous precedent to set, and I can’t exactly see it being appealing to a lot of the other 26 nations. They may well still do it. But I can’t see how the long term outworkings enhance Europe as its proponents suggest, whatever way a coerced Ireland voted.

    But, and this is a serious problem for the government: the inchoate response of the pubilc will make it difficult for Ireland assemble a coherent shopping list (as Mary Lou’s list demonstrates).

    I’m not entirely sure that shopping list is entirely incoherent. Strip out SF’s left wing pretensions and you are left with: Ireland wants to ensure it retains final say over aspects of its sovereignty, particularly with regards fiscal policy and neutrality, and Ireland as a small nation does not want any diminution of its voice within Europe.

  • Greenflag

    kensei ,

    ‘Ireland wants to ensure it retains final say over aspects of its sovereignty, particularly with regards fiscal policy and neutrality, and Ireland as a small nation does not want any diminution of its voice within Europe. ‘

    What Ireland wants is one thing -what Ireland gets will be something else . We are in no position to hold back the rest of Europe from further integration . Whatever we’ve got in the past has been due to our diplomatic skills in being able to influence our partners . That influence has now been much reduced .

    I hate to say it but we’ve pulled a unionist on this one or as others would say shot ourselves in the foot .

  • George

    Mick,
    Ultimately it will be a matter for the people of the Republic. And the government will have to have a major part in crafting whatever proposition gets put back to the people.

    That is one option but it is far from certain that will be another referendum. At the moment, it seems unlikely but we’ll see what happens over the next year. We aren’t going to have another in 2008, that’s for certain.

    But, and this is a serious problem for the government: the inchoate response of the pubilc will make it difficult for Ireland assemble a coherent shopping list (as Mary Lou’s list demonstrates).

    Indeed, but some of those things on that list are extremely important. The issues can’t be ignored simply because there are so many of them.

    Whatever deal is struck, next time the negatives will be much more self evident next time round. Martin Turner just about has it down pat in the Times today… a table for one, in the smoking zone outside the restaurant (and no control of what goes on the menu).

    But the problem is that the reaction to the No vote shows that if the big countries in the EU really want something then we are already at a point where we have no control of what goes on the menu.

    The only difference is that right now we can refuse to eat what is put in front of us while post-Lisbon they could ram it down our throats.

    I for one would not assume that a twin track Europe requires another Treaty.

    Well they can’t do it with Lisbon if it isn’t ratified by all 27 so what vehicle do you suggest will run down this second track?

  • Greenflag

    comrade stalin ,

    ‘Ireland’s economic growth lately has been because of, not in spite of, the position it occupies in Europe. To throw all that away would be insane.’

    Yes it would be insane . Some of our Unionist fellow islanders might say there’s already precedent for this insanity . After all we fought and voted ourselves out of the biggest economic union/market on the planet in 1922 in order to establish our own ‘independent’ State? For the better part of 50 years that ‘independence ‘ was in economic terms almost entirely ‘nominal ‘. We had little or no negotiating power with our sole market the UK . At least within the EU we were able to move away from that unhealthy UK dependency.

    Now it seems like SF along with the neo con right wing nutters want to send Ireland back to the past 🙁

    Now that the Lords have ratified the Lisbon Treaty does anyone hear the ‘loud ‘ voices of Unionists demanding to be excluded from this ratification along with the rest of the Nay sayer ‘ allies for democratic freedom’ in the Republic . Keep listening and if you hear the sound of suppressed laughter emanating from Glengall St or DUP HQ don’t be surprised.

    I don’t know if anybody caught the speeches of Minister Harney , Martin Mansergh , Hugh Coveney and Ruairi Quinn in the Dail this afternoon but they IMO clearly enunciated the problems which this country is now going to have to face as a result of this referenda.

  • consul

    Possibly a little strong to suggest that there is a major crisis in the offing here. It is for the Eurocrats to keep Lisbon breathing, its their baby after all. Before and after the referendum there was plenty of hot air doing the rounds both in Ireland and the continent. About a month before the vote I was concerned that the electorate might cave but there were signs in the lead up that opinion had swung significantly so its defeat was not a huge surprise.

    So now we have given ourselves a chance to tinker slightly with it, a declaration or two is not enough to make me change camps anyhow, don’t know about anyone else. A period of reflection will give the Eurocrats (not least the ones in Dublin) the time they need to come to the stark realisation that there is no sneaky way round the Irish people for this deal. Its not like Holland or France where referendi are a gift from the government, this deal needs the sayso of the people in Ireland to become law. Brussels (and Dublin) will come to see that the easiest route to saving their baby will be to add a couple of lines to the treaty. We’ll need something concrete on the Irish constitution remaining supreme in this state, obviously full competence on tax and probably full authorisation on when Irish troops do and do not see action. That would go a long way for a lot of people.

    I do think though that however we across Europe proceed over the coming months and years the ordinary people in all states must now come to terms with the fact that Europe is now mutating into an altogether different animal and its evolution can no longer be ignored. Ireland not for the first time is coming under intense scrutiny because it seems to be the only state where the people are the master and the government is the servant. It seems to me that citizens elsewhere seem to have more or less the same take on this project and the trajectory it is taking but they are bound and gagged and we seem to have to take all the heat for speaking their unspoken thoughts. As time moves on I hope to see all of the peoples in the EU get a little more vocal with their respective governments and remind them who put them in their positions. It is a folorn hope however. I think kensei makes a key point on the sinister vibes coming out of Europe, it certainly is indicative of an entity that is less than savoury and the elite might be well advised that they may be storing up trouble down the road.

  • Hardly a table for one, just joining the one Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are occupying…

  • Harry Flashman

    Can someone tell me why the Irish people have to “explain” their NO vote? If they voted YES would they have been expected to justify their decision?

    The EU put a treaty forward for Ireland to sign, the Irish people chose not to sign it, that is their sovereign democratic right. If this causes problems for the EU then those problems are for them to sort out, the Irish people have spoken and it is now the bounden duty of Brian Cowen’s government to respect the decision of the Irish people and defend their choice, not to kowtow to his EU “partners”. There can be no threats and no bullying, no need for talk of a “two speed” Europe, we simply continue along the way we have been doing, is that so difficult to comprehend?

    The rules were very clear going into this referendum, abundantly clear, the treaty had to be ratified unanimously; all 27 nations had to agree. If someone can point me to the clause that said “all 27 countries unless one of the smaller nations reject it then their will doesn’t count”, or “most countries have to ratify the treaty but if France or Germany decides they don’t like it then it fails”, then I’d agree Ireland has a problem but those weren’t the rules. The finest legal brains in Europe apparently organised this process, they made up the rules and expected everyone to abide by them, everyone has abided by them, the Irish rejected the treaty so the treaty fails, sorry lads back to the drawing board, them’s the rules.

    You know one of the so-called “scaremongering” claims that the NO side were supposed to have been putting forward was the idea that Ireland was being sucked into an undemocratic superstate where Ireland would be over-ruled by the big boys. Listening to the threats and howls of outrage following the democratic decision of the people of the Republic of Ireland to exercise their sovereign will it is blindingly obvious that there was no scaremongering about it.

    As I said in an earlier thread “What part of NO do you not understand boys?”

  • Dave

    “Ireland’s economic growth lately has been because of, not in spite of, the position it occupies in Europe.”

    Why don’t you support this statement with something more substantial than bold declaration? The conspicuously absent facts and figures would be a helpful start. The curious logic that is customarily proffered to underpin this propaganda runs along the lines of ‘Ireland was poor when it joined the EU in 1973. Ireland is now rich. Therefore, the EU is responsible for generating Ireland’s wealth.’ Great, and my sister was also born in 1973, but I don’t contribute all good in the world since that date to her birth. Since EU funds contributed less than 3% of Ireland’s GDP over 35 years, this mentality that the EU created Ireland’s wealth usually comes as a surprise to those whose enterprise generated the 97% of Ireland’s GDP that the EU wasn’t responsible for.

    In addition, Ireland collects billions of Euros on goods sold in this country which it then passes to the EU. These taxes are a direct burden on Irish enterprise and trade. We also allow the EU to take valuable stock out of our territorial waters, decimating our own fishing industry and giving away products that we should be selling on the commercial market. These direct losses are never counted in the calculation of benefits that Ireland received, and if they were, then the total benefit over 35 years would amount to considerably less than the quarter of this year’s GDP that it currently amounts to. Any benefit that Irish business accrued from its international trade would have accrued irrespective of membership of the EU.

    Now, let’s look at how helpful the EU’s funds actually were to Ireland (which the EU seems to think were proffered as bribes for the transfer of our sovereign powers). The farmers received over 90% of all of those funds under the CAP system. The Common Agricultural Policy isn’t about making the means of producing food more efficient, so absolutely no progress resulted from those funds for the Irish farming industry. The problems that made that industry inefficient are still there. CAP is about rewarding farmers for being inefficient. And who pays for that inefficiency? The EU consumer pays because prices are fixed by the EU, guaranteeing farmers an income for doing fuck all. This benefits nobody, not even the farming industry. But it directly impacts upon the consumer because it is the consumer who is forced to pay higher prices for their food. This idiotic interference in the free market also impacts negatively on all other forms of enterprise because it reduces the amount of disposable income that the consumer has to spend elsewhere.

    We also have a situation where there is a global shortage of food but Europe can’t respond to this because it does not have a free market – its burdensome bureaucracy means that farmers are paid not to produce food and the system can’t be changed because it has tied itself up in complex knots. How does this make Europe more competitive in the global marketplace? And if you stopped this crackpot system now, what would happen to those farmers who were protected from reality at the direct expense of the consumer/taxpayer? They’d be right back at square one – because fuck all progress was actually made.

    We need to extricate ourselves from this farce.

  • Dave

    It is important to note the role of the free market in Ireland’s economic success, and the role of a well-educated population who have the entrepreneurial flair to prosper in it. Ireland is the second freest country in the world (with the UK being the only other EU country in the top 10), with other EU countries such as Germany ranking at 21 and France ranking at 48. Note the difference? If the EU bureaucracy was responsible for this progress, then all of the EU states would be ranked the same. In fact, EU bureaucracy is the opposite of being a deregulated and efficient free market economy. Ergo, the EU agenda – if we grant it more sovereignty – can only retard our progress in this brave new world, not advance it.

    Now, I hate to copy and paste, but I think this article from 2003 makes the argument why the EU is a milestone around our necks more concisely than my longwinded manner:

    “Over the last 10 years Ireland has catapulted from Europe’s economic backwater to the forefront of European economies. More recently Ireland’s economic growth has slowed. Although many observers attempt to attribute Ireland’s success to funds transfers from the European Union, more careful observation shows that Ireland’s success should be attributed to an increasing reliance on free markets.

    In 1987 the Irish Republic’s per capita income hovered at 63 percent of the United Kingdom’s. From 1990 to 1995 Ireland’s economy grew at more than 5 percent per year and from 1996 to 2000 it raced at more than 9 percent a year. Today, Ireland’s $25,500 per capita income bests the United Kingdom’s per capita average by $3,200.

    The country’s astounding 10-year economic history has led some to dub Ireland the Celtic Tiger. Understanding the causes of Ireland’s success can help Ireland avoid policy mistakes during its current slower growth that would undermine its future potential.

    After a stagnant 13-year period with less than 2 percent growth, Ireland took a more radical course of slashing expenditures, abolishing agencies and toppling tax rates and regulations. At the same time, the government made credible commitments not to engage in deficit spending or inflate the currency.

    Ireland’s long history of free and open trade has also played a role in its recovery. However, only since freeing other aspects of its economy by lowering taxes, decreasing regulation, maintaining low inflation, and providing a stable fiscal environment has Ireland been able to grow rapidly enough to surpass greater Europe’s standard of living.

    Ireland’s progress is reflected in The 2002 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, which ranked Ireland the world’s 4th freest economy.

    Many outside observers attribute Ireland’s success in improving its standard of living over the last 15 years to subsidies from the EU. In fact, though, EU subsidies do nothing but hinder consumer-satisfying economic development.

    Agricultural subsidies are one component of EU transfers and are an example of how well-meaning transfers can get in the way of economic development. The subsidies boost rural incomes, but they retard economic adjustment by keeping rural populations artificially high. Some of these workers could produce more valuable products by moving to the cities. As long as people are subsidized to stay in particular professions, Ireland will not fully exploit its comparative advantage in the international division of labor. This depresses incomes and slows growth.

    The presence of EU funds retards growth in another way as well. Although the total supply of entrepreneurs varies among societies, the productive contribution of the society’s entrepreneurial activities varies much more because of their allocation between productive activities, such as innovation, and unproductive activities, such as lobbying for government subsidies or privileges. The presence of EU funds creates a pot of gold for Irish entrepreneurs to seek. This will cause some entrepreneurs, who were previously engaging in productive and innovative activity, to lobby for subsides instead. This lobbying wastes both physical and human resources that could have been used to satisfy consumer demands and increase economic growth.

    Not surprisingly, when comparing EU transfers and economic growth rates, we find no positive relationship.

    If the subsidies were a major cause for Ireland’s growth, we would expect Ireland’s growth to be highest when it was receiving the greatest transfers. But growth rates and net transfers as a percent of GDP have actually moved in opposite directions during Ireland’s higher growth rates in the 1990s though.

    Ireland began receiving subsidies after joining the European community in 1973. Net receipts from the EU averaged 3 percent of GDP during the period of rapid growth (1995-2000), but during the low growth period (1973-1986) they averaged 4 percent of GDP.

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/b]

    In absolute terms, net receipts were at about the same level in 2001 as they were in 1985. Throughout the 1990s Ireland’s payments to the EU budget steadily increased from 359 million Euro in 1990, to 1,527 million Euro in 2000. Yet, in 2000, the receipts in from the EU were 2,488 million Euro, less than the 1991 level of 2,798 million Euro.

    Ireland’s growth rates have increased while net funds from the EU remained relatively constant and have shrunk in proportion to the size of Ireland’s economy.

    If the subsides were really the cause of economic development in Ireland, we would also expect other poor countries in the EU, which receive subsidies, to have high rates of economic growth. EU Structural and Cohesion Funds represented 4 percent of Greek, 2.3 percent of Spanish, and 3.8 percent of Portuguese GDP. None of these countries achieved anywhere near the rate of growth the Irish economy experienced. Spain averaged 2.5 percent GDP growth, while Portugal averaged 2.6 and Greece averaged only 2.2 percent growth from 1990-2000.

    The remarkable success Ireland has experienced in improving its economic performance over the past 15 years is due to market-based forces. Although EU subsidies have been present, they have not been the driving force and may actually be holding Ireland back from growing faster. A policy environment that promotes economic freedom, enabling private entrepreneurs to promote economic development was the key to creating the Celtic Tiger.

    Although these policies have been remarkably successful, they cannot prevent normal fluctuations in the economy. The correct institutional environment fosters long term economic development. In the short run, normal business cycles will still occur. It is not surprising that as the US has dipped into a recession, Ireland, a major trading partner with the US, has experienced slower growth and increased jobless claims.

    The greatest danger for Ireland is that the short-run fluctuation will cause them to undermine the very policies and environment that created the ‘Celtic Tiger’ in the first place.” – by Benjamin Powell, Social Change Fellow at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, Va.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good discussion guys. A releif after some of the skirmishing we’ve had on here recently. I take Mark’s point entirely. Although, economically, I am not sure that Ireland yet has the underlying economic strengths of Norway and Switzerland. I’m less familiar with Iceland.

    And I don’t think the country should disallow the possibility that when you are on the ledge, you should consider making the jump.

    Harry,

    Personally, I’m not questioning the result in least. But the question that is being asked in Brussels is, what does it mean? Does it mean do nothing to reform the EU? That’s what people like Vincent Browne and William Hague argue. Or does it mean what SF argues, i.e. this is an opportunity to re-negotiate?

    (For Sinn Fein it makes for great optics, but their shopping list is so vast and impractical, (and in the case of their proposals on tax protocols nonsensical, at least as a response to Lisbonl) that they virtually have a carte blanche to resort to the No camp in any future referendum.)

    If it’s the latter, on what basis? Top of SF’s list list, is the annulment of a measure previously approved by the Irish people in Nice II. As one academic friend put it yesterday:

    “18 commissioners means we avoid an endlessly growing Commission. I’m astounded at the capacity of people to claim that the EU is too powerful AND that we ought to have a Commissioner each.”

    Dave,

    There is a considerable amount of sense in a lot of the stuff you say, although in regard to EU Funds, that particular pot of gold is leaving Ireland-ville shortly to go do its work elsewhere. But I’m not sure it’s an analysis that’s shared by the No campaign’s senior representatives in the political word, Sinn Fein.

  • al

    Hardly a table for one, just joining the one Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are occupying…
    Posted by Mark Dowling on Jun 19, 2008 @ 02:09 AM

    And each of those countries seems to be fairly happy with that setup. They also seem to do quite well out of it too. Top of the Human Development Index we find Norway and Iceland. They also have impressive economic performance. Switzerland are no slouches either.

  • kensei

    GF

    What Ireland wants is one thing -what Ireland gets will be something else .

    Negotiation is fine. No one ever gets everything they want. But you aren’t saying that. You are saying that just take what other countries give. If that was the case, Ireland should leave the EU immediately, because effectively it’s Empire by another name and the ultimate damage to democracy is inevitable.

    Mick

    “18 commissioners means we avoid an endlessly growing Commission. I’m astounded at the capacity of people to claim that the EU is too powerful AND that we ought to have a Commissioner each.”

    Depends what your aim is. The assumption is that more commissioners = more areas of power needed = more interference. but if you insist the pot of powers is the same, what actually happens is diffusion of power. That could potentially weaken the EU. Look how we’ve manage to paralyse government here!

    Anyway, the US allows every state 2 Senators each, regardless of size. I think somewhere along the line, the EU is going to have to introduce something similar. I’m just not sure where, and it’ll probably result in another layer of government 🙂

    (For Sinn Fein it makes for great optics, but their shopping list is so vast and impractical, (and, in the case of their proposals on tax protocols, nonsensical) that they virtually have a carte blanche to resort to the No camp in any future referendum.)

    Or there are enough check boxes they can probably say Ireland got enough fro them to support a yes vote. I’ve no doubt they’ll be on the No side whatever the next campaign is, but on a theoretical level not really bad tactics, no?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    I saw Mary Lou’s contribution in the Irish Times yesterday. About time SF stressed what they want. Pity these points weren’t raised before negotiation; then again maybe they were.

    regarding point #2

    “The retention of the Nice Treaty formulae for qualified majority voting;”

    ……sure weren’t SF calling for a NO vote in the Nice Treaty, now they want it’s retention.

    The government should involve all parties and disgruntled folk here in future should another treaty be in the making. Then we can have agreement across the board.

    See Vincent Brown on TV3 (aka ITV) giving Caoimhin O Caolin of SF a bit of a grilling. Brown wrote in the Irish Times yesterday that a No vote was a good rebuff to the Euro bureaucrats.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    I have to laugh too, at the way the Green Party went along like sheep (as they are now part of the government) with the Treaty…. (Bar Trish McKenna of course, the free radical that she is).

    Remember the Mastricht Treaty and the more recent Nice Treaty, the Greens were to the forefront vehemently urging us all to vote NO.

    What hypocrites!

    I presume other such parties would be the same once in government.

  • Mick Fealty

    Greag,

    I think you’ll find the Greens could not find the sufficient numbers to take a position of going along or cutting against. Patricia was freed by the part to be radical. I take that’s one reason why Gormley was not party of the unhappy triumvirate of YES leaders.

  • DC

    ‘Following Ireland’s ‘no’ vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said:

    ” The Irish government and the governments of the other Member States will now need to assess what this result means for the process. The Treaty was signed by all 27 Member States, so there is a joint responsibility to address the situation. The ‘no’ vote in Ireland has not solved the problems which the Lisbon Treaty is designed to solve. The ratification process is made up of 27 national processes, 18 Member States have already approved the Treaty, and the European Commission believes that the remaining ratifications should continue to take their course. At the European Council (19-20 June), we will want to confer with each other, to hear Prime Minister Cowen’s analysis, as well as his ideas on how to address the concerns expressed by those who chose to vote no.”

    The President added that the EU should continue the work of delivering on issues like growth and jobs, social cohesion, energy security, climate change and fighting inflation.

    “Working together in the EU remains the best way to deal with the challenges affecting Europeans today,” he said’

  • Greenflag

    AL ,

    ‘And each of those countries seems to be fairly happy with that setup’

    Why would’nt they be ?

    Norway does not have to import oil -it’s an oil exporter . They have used their oil bonanza wisely even having a ‘sovereign wealth’ fund which has stashed away 50,000 dollars in investments for every Norwegian . Last I heard of from the ultra ‘free market ‘ practitioners the USA , was that their oil companies were raking in tens of billions of dollars in ‘excess profits’ whereas the American people were getting ‘screwed ‘ at the gas pumps /petrol stations. No sovereign ‘wealth ‘ fund for the average American eh just an ever diminishing value of their dollar and a huge increase in their ‘national debt’ The ‘socialist’ Norwegians get more for their ‘oil’ than our ultra free marketeers in the USA .

    Switzerland has been at peace for almost 400 years . During those centuries they have built on their reputation for ‘financial services’ which has allowed them to control assets and their subsequent investment globally of the order of a country like Germany or France with a population less than one tenth of the these two ‘giants’ of the EU . Switzerland also happens to be ideally located as far as transport costs are concerned being located close to the economic hub of the EU.

    Iceland has also benefited from ‘cheap ‘ energy having access to geothermal sources to supply hot water and energy to it’s tiny population of some 250,000. They are also much further from the EU in terms of transport costs than Ireland.

    Ireland is not and never will be in the fortunate position of the above three countries not unless somebody discovers some huge oil fields off our coasts very soon .

    We have lots of green grass and our native wit to make our way in the world -that and the economic base we have created as members of the EU for the past 35 years .

    As for sitting at the same table as the Norwegians , Swiss , and Icelanders the concept maybe fine as long as we can ‘afford’ Norwegian oil and make enough money to give the Swiss to invest ‘wisely’ for us . As for the Icelanders well I was always fond of cod but there’s only so much that can be done with fish !

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘The remarkable success Ireland has experienced in improving its economic performance over the past 15 years is due to market-based forces. ‘

    True . But you omit to mention the economic , educational ,demographic , social and political basis on which that remarkable succes was based . At the very least it goes back to the 1mid 1950’s with some economic commentators tracing the origins back to the State financed ‘national electrification’ from the late 1920’s through the 1950,s and later. Some also attribute the suucess to our ‘political independence ‘ Attached to the UK we would have been restricted to a regional economic role just as NI, Scotland or Wales or the poorer Northern regions of England.

    ‘Although EU subsidies have been present, they have not been the driving force and may actually be holding Ireland back from growing faster.’

    We can attribute the first real phase of fast economic growth in the Republic 1958 through 1966 to opening up the economy and through focused economic planning by the State . This growth was enhanced by the Anglo Irish Free Trade Agreement in 1966 . With EU membership in 1973 the Republic was now able to become a ‘magnet ‘ for overseas foreign direct investment . This in addition to early subsidies gave Ireland it’s driving force to progress further . Without the large scale outside investment of these years there would have been no Celtic Tiger and without EU membership there would have been no Celtic Tiger .

    The mid 1980’s crisis and the rapid reversal of policies was due to the level of public sector debt/dependency ( like NI today) getting out of control and the private sector being unable to ‘service’ such debt through taxation , wage competition etc etc.

    to be continued

  • To be clear – I’m not advocating Ireland withdraw to EFTA-EEA status, just saying that the alternative is not becoming, I don’t know, Albania. Like it or not much of our multinational investment comes down to our membership of the Euro and our trade status and unless any new arrangement can preserve those we’re in the poo.

    As for those who say we can’t have 27 commissioners – (and the TEU-post Nice only says it has to be “less”, so 26 is OK) if the Irish Cabinet can have 16 full Ministers and the UK one 23 I think restricting the EU one to 15 per Lisbon might be on the low side.

  • Greenflag

    continued from above post

    dave ,

    .CAP is about rewarding farmers for being inefficient. And who pays for that inefficiency? The EU consumer pays because prices are fixed by the EU, guaranteeing farmers an income for doing fuck all..

    The American consumer ‘subsidises ‘ the American farmer ditto the Japanese consumer ‘subsidises ‘ Japanese rice producers . The EU is no different in this respect . None of the developed countries of the world want to be ‘dependent ‘ on their food supply from sources which may use that ‘power’ to further other economic or political objectives .

    We have seen what has happened in Europe in earlier centuries when the food ‘supply’ dried up and ‘market ‘ forces were allowed to operate without state control or intervention .

    IIRC approx one million Irish benefited from the free agricultural market by being allowed to starve to death meanwhile the higher incomed English were able to afford to pay for the grains and meats exported to Britain from a starving island . So Free was the Free Market that ‘food exports’ had to be protected by armed soldiers as it moved to the ports for export.

    The same happened in India a decade or so later when 27 million were allowed to starve to death because of the ‘principles’ of the Free market .

    It’s easy to criticise the EU’s CAP but we europeans should know from our histories what happens when the food supply runs out . Not all europeans have been ‘content ‘ to lie down and die like the ‘unarmed ‘ Irish in the mid 19th century . I seem to recall a French Revolution over too much of a rise in the price of bread !

    I think I’ll trust the French and German and other european countries with my food supply for now despite the inefficiencies of CAP . Efficiency is all very well in manufacturing or delivering services and it has it’s place in food production and agriculture also – but not to the point of risking our food supply. !

  • Greenflag

    Mick

    ‘There is a considerable amount of sense in a lot of the stuff you (Dave ) say, ‘

    I agree that what he’s saying re the numbers is mostly correct -the problem being that it is taken out of context in the sense that the voters in the referendum did not vote on the basis of restoring economic growth rates to Celtic Tiger rates -which given the present economy is impossible . They seem instead to have voted on the basis of a whole mish-mash of false fears generated by the ultra right and euro skeptics .

    As to comparing Ireland ‘s economic performance with countries such as Greece , Spain and Portugal during this period , given the enormous differences in economic , social, political and demograhic history between these countries and Ireland over the past century – it makes more sense to attribute Ireland’s relative success during the CT days with the unique set of economic , social and political, and demographic circumstances in which we found ourselves in the late 1980’s .

    Dave’s point re our faster rate of growth than the EU laggards such as France/Germany and the UK is all very well but we were in catch up mode . Now that we have ‘caught ‘ up we have to expect a slowdown not least because of the global economic slowdown but because our upcoming ‘demographic’ constraint .

  • Greenflag

    dave’s copy and paste .

    Btw thanks for the article ,

    ‘The greatest danger for Ireland is that the short-run fluctuation will cause them to undermine the very policies and environment that created the ‘Celtic Tiger’ in the first place.” – by Benjamin Powell, Social Change Fellow at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, Va.

    True comment by Mr Powell – However what we have actually done by voting NO in this referendum is exactly what Mr Powell advises us not to do.

    We have undermined our European ‘credentials ‘ by this vote and every country in the EU and outside investors will be looking at Ireland as a less likely candidate for future investment etc etc given the new ‘uncertainty ‘ of our future relations with the EU .

    Our relative economic success since 1973 has been built up by virtue of our EU membership notwithstanding the earlier comments in the article . Our economic history as an independent State did not begin in year one of the Celtic Tiger nor did it end with the recent demise of the Celtic Tiger . We need to look at the longer time frame of our EU membership and across the whole of Europe and how the continent has been transformed for the better because of the EU .

  • Greenflag

    kensei,

    What Ireland wants is one thing -what Ireland gets will be something else .

    ‘Negotiation is fine. No one ever gets everything they want. But you aren’t saying that.’
    You are saying that just take what other countries give.’

    You assume that other countries will ‘give’ ? Perhaps the close dependent relationship between NI and the UK has skewed your normally excellent reasoning re this matter .

    Anyone who has ever had to haggle or negotiate with more than two dozen separate entities or group (the EU commission) representing those entities will know that all negotiations are a win win or a lose lose for all countries . Ireland’s success to date has been because we were seen as the ‘poster boys’ of EU small country success .

    Now unfortunately we’ll be seen by our fellow europeans as something else entirely . We could be heading for something not too dissimilar from how the rest of the UK views Northern Ireland or probably worse. When you see the line up of ultra right fascists , UKIP , Ulster Unionists – Le Pen’s mob -and Austrian Neo Nazis waving on the Irish NO’s not to mention the ultra left SF ? (or are they ?)you have to wonder whether this is the company we as a nation want to keep !

  • perry patetic

    Lot’s of other people have repeated themselves on this so I’m gonna too.

    The EU started in the wrong place. Somehow they wrote a big long list of all the things they wanted the EU to do and then had to write another big long list of all the countries to which some of the things they wanted the EU to do wouldn’t apply.

    They could and should have written a neat short list of the things the EU had to do everywhere, the institutions to do them with and they should then have added a short paragraph explaining that groups of countries could, if they wished, do extra stuff if they paid for it themselves (Schengen, Euro-Nato, Nuclear power etc).

    I also wonder why the constitution even has a social chapter. I don’t ask from a right wing perspective – I just wonder if the social chapter isn’t a legislative rather than a constitutional matter.

    If you allow for the inclusion of social rights in the convention of human rights or EU legislation then I’m not sure the Sinn Fein are looking or need to look, (at the constitutional level) for anything much different to the system proposed in this sub-3000 word prize winning constitutional alternative;

    http://www.adamsmith.org/images/stories/John%20Hopkins%20Constitution%20(Final).pdf

    If you start with this sort of thing you can start to have a sensible conversation about the extension of competencies. For example deciding whether the EU should have compentency or the right to issue law on employment matters, rather than just recommendations as this draft shows. That sort of delicate incremental change would lend itself better to referenda (I reckon) than these high stakes winner takes all roller-coasters we’ve been going for.

    There are a couple of SF’s issues I don’t get. What’s the problem with a single EU legal entity for one? Any shinners know?

    For the truly madly geeky this seems to explain the application of the penrose effect to the EU27 and the 62% hurdle rate that apparently means all citizens have the same democratic weight.

    http://chaos.if.uj.edu.pl/~karol/pdf/SZapp06.pdf

  • perry patetic

    I don’t know why but that first link keeps leaving the “.pdf” bit out. Just paste the whole thing in your address bar.

  • Greenflag

    perry patetic,

    All europe is now focused on just one thing .
    Germany v Portugal in about 20 minutes 🙂

  • BfB

    Greenie

    WTF does the US oil situation have to do with the subject? 10,000 words later, nothing much said, are you smoking crack?

  • Greenflag

    And further to the question of food supply and Dave’s naive belief that a free market in food production is what the EU and the world needs however NOT Japan and the USA here’s French President Sarkozy’s contribution ;

    Sarkozy hits out at Mandelson

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is to travel to Dublin next month for discussions on the No vote, today laid part of the blame at the feet of Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

    ‘To have negotiated an agreement wherein we had gained nothing on services, nothing on industry – everyone is in absolute agreement,’ he said.

    He continued ‘… reducing agricultural production by 20% in a world there are 800m people dying of hunger, every 30 seconds a child dies of hunger, and we were going to negotiate, in the case of the WTO, a 20% reduction in European agricultural production.’

    ‘Look, quite honestly,’ Mr Sarkozy said, ‘there is one person who is of this opinion, that’s Mr Mandelson, and it is not France’s position.’

    Mr Sarkozy, who takes over the presidency of the Council next month, said he intends to go to Ireland to help seek a solution, but he said he was determined not to reopen the debate on the institutions of the EU.

    Mandelson ? Now that name strikes a bell somewhere . Was’nt he the Northern Ireland Secretary who ? no it could’nt be could it ?

  • Greenflag

    perry patetic ,

    ‘There are a couple of SF’s issues I don’t get.’

    Just a couple ? Most of their list is dry filling /hot air/wind . Long lists of ‘demands’ look ‘powerful’ on paper .

    ‘ What’s the problem with a single EU legal entity for one? ‘

    You would think that a union of democracies would not have a problem being a legal entity . Have you considered that Sinn Fein may not yet be entirely committed to ‘democracy ‘ ?

    ‘Any shinners know? ‘

    Most of the ‘shinners ‘ here on this thread have pissed off as usual . Now that they’ve discovered the word NO and how it works, they’ll be taking a closer look at their new found ally Paisley & Co and how the word NO transformed a bunch of loony religious nutters into the biggest Unionist party in NI . Perhaps SF think they can do the same .

  • kensei

    ‘ What’s the problem with a single EU legal entity for one? ‘

    You would think that a union of democracies would not have a problem being a legal entity . Have you considered that Sinn Fein may not yet be entirely committed to ‘democracy ‘ ?

    Irony explosion.

    In any case, legal entity, after a few minutes search on google:

    This implies the ability to enter into a contract, notably to be part of an international
    convention or be a member of an international organisation

    How about the UN Security council? It is in theory focuse don external relations i.e. foreign policy. It isn’t really the immediate consequences of that one, but the impact it could have further down the line.

    It’s actually one of the more significant demands.

  • I have seen it written that the “European Community” is actually a legal entity as it stands and the change is to replace it, not to create an entity where none previously existed.

    There are some of us such as myself who valued the community notion, emphasising the notion of a collective of co-operating nations rather than a Euromelange.

  • Wilde Rover

    Greenflag,

    You are of course right when you say Ireland is not in the same position as Switzerland, Iceland, or Norway. But then again, they are not part of the EU.

    Unless I have misread your position you have come around to the point of view that the people of Europe are not to be trusted when it comes to defining the shape of this pooled sovereignty.

    I cannot fathom how you can on the one hand have such a deep suspicion of the political classes in the USA and on the other hand have an unwavering trust in the political classes in Europe.

  • Dave

    Greenflag, as the saying goes, “Eaten bread is soon forgotten.” If you want to make a case in support of a federal EU, then you should be making it on the basis of the benefits a federal EU will offer the citizens of the nation state of Ireland in the future rather than on the benefits that you claim a non-Federal EU offered in the past.

    And while that beard is forgotten, it’s also best not to obfuscate cake with bread. A non-federal EU did offer the citizens of Ireland some benefits (mostly non-refundable grants), but a non-Federal EU wherein we were net recipients of funds should not be obfuscated with a federal EU wherein we are net contributors of funds. Clearly, there is a considerable difference between receiving free money from others and paying free money to others. With the former, you become richer and others become poorer; and with the latter, you get poorer and others become richer.

    You, however, assume that Europe is already a nation state and, ergo, the national interest that is to be furthered is not Ireland’s national interest but the national interest of the emergent super state of Europe. Europe, however, remains a continent and not a state. This is because the Irish people have rejected a federal EU by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. They have declared that they will remain an independent, sovereign nation state which exercises democracy in the exclusive interests of its own citizens. In being loyal to the (as yet non-existent) state that you are seeking to engineer, you are acting (unwittingly or otherwise) as a traitor to your own nation state and to its people.

    You believe (wrongly) that membership of the EU is in Ireland’s national interest, and I hold that it is detrimental to Ireland’s national interest. I hold that the free market and a highly educated people with entrepreneurial flair is responsible for Ireland’s (which is why we have more millionaires per capita than any other country other than Japan) and that membership of the EU (in any form) will only serve to limit our potential as a nation state rather than advance it. You hold that we should be grateful to be equals with other member states, and I hold that we are not equals but superiors and that we should never seek to cap our potential as a mean average of the bureaucratic and mediocre. You go further and wish Ireland to become a region of a federal EU, eventually and inevitably becoming an integrated state at the direct expense of its member states as it is obliged to do under the Treaty of Rome, and I say over my dead body. 😉

  • Dave

    By the way, Greenflag, given what Irish people achieved in three quarters of a century as an independent sovereign nation state which recovered from centuries of colonisation that left it as an underdeveloped and penniless backwater, the Irish people have no intention of trading one form of colonisation for another. Success was achieved under the principle of self-determination. If you want to know want you received a No vote to your EU-colonisation agenda, that’s it in a nutshell. Indeed, it is elite-dependent mentalities such as yours that is an after effect of that colonisation wherein you were systematically indoctrinated with feelings of inferiority with the specific purpose of informing you that you needed others to rule over you and organise your affairs because the principle of self-determination wasn’t to be your salivation but, rather, your ruin. 😉

  • Dave

    Greenflag, first of all, I apologise for the sarcastic comment attributing your EU federalist viewpoints to colonial indoctrination. I am sure they are sincerely held, however misguided. 😉

    You asked me a few weeks ago on another thread what I meant by my comment that the EU project should be returned to first principles. It just means a set of axioms that form the basis of some development. In regard to the EU, it means fundamental assumptions about its purpose.

    If you look at how the EU began, it was an alliance between six countries (France, Italy, Germany and three Benelux countries) to form a common market for coal and steel. Of course, I could point out that those industries are now dead in Europe, but why point out its failures? Naturally, French politicians like grand gestures, so their foreign minister at the time waffled on about how the new alliance would prevent war between France and Germany and bring about world peace forever more, and all that. This grand talk flourished even if the coal and steel industries died, and much waffle along similar lines have been spewing forth ever since. So, the ulterior aim of the EU is pretty much to stop the Frogs and the Krauts from slaughtering each other, apparently. Whatever.

    Was there any indication that those two imperial powers were planning a re-run of World Wars 1 & 2 post warmonger, Adolf? No, it was just self-aggrandising French politicians trying to dress-up their little six-nation cartel as something more worthwhile. So, are the nation states of Europe seriously being asked to surrender their status as sovereign nation states and merge into a new nation state in order to prevent them from waging war on each other? No, that is just a ridiculous rationale that is proffered to justify the self-spawning EU federal project when all else fails. While there is no reason to fear war within Europe, there is solid reason to predict that EU integration will end in separatist terrorism and civil war between those who are loyal to their national identity and those who assumed the artificially engineered national identity of European.

    So let’s ignore this garbage and focus on what useful purpose the EU could actually serve. Co-operation between independent, sovereign nation states must replace unification as the core dynamic of the EU, which requires that member states pool their sovereignty until they become a unified super state. To this end, the EU parliament and all of its institutions must be disbanded. The first principle is is co-operation between independent and sovereign nation states who share common economic and strategic interests. There would be no need for an EU parliament because that entity would not have any sovereignty over member states, and there would be no engineering of an artificial state of Europe or an artificial national identity of European by falsely calling the citizens of the member states the citizens of Europe.

    What would replace it would be an inter-governmental council which oversaw the development of those areas of common interest, proposing common standards and common regulation that would be adopted by member states on a purely voluntary basis. Those common areas would likely include security, crime, environmental issues, and international trade agreements, etc. That way, we can all move forward together without any threats to our national identity, democracy, sovereignty, retaining full control over our respective internal affairs.

    Will the EU be reformed along those lines? Nope, because politicians have created a monster that is beyond their control, and none of them can oppose it individually and none of them will oppose it collectively. It is bigger than any of its members and it will steal what is left of their sovereignty in due course before the whole rotten edifice collapses in on itself – or is ripped asunder by the people whose voice it deliberately contrives to exclude. When that happens, we’d we well served as a nation state to be well clear of it.

  • Greenflag

    wilde rover ,

    ‘Unless I have misread your position’

    You have . All member countries of the EU are democracies. Some of them are fairly new to the concept of having a political opposition within their country . All member countries are representative democracies i.e the people elect their representatives to govern the country in the best interest of the people .

    Ireland’s written Constitution necessitated that a referendum must be held . In the Dail 158 TDs were YES supporters and 6 or 7 were NO supporters . I doubt if there was such a majority for the YES’s in any other EU member country’s parliament . Yet on the day the NO’s won mainly because half of the electorate did’nt bother to vote and of those who did many did not understand it . I accpet that some ‘NO’ voters did so for what ‘principled reasons’ and not out of fear.

    ‘I cannot fathom how you can on the one hand have such a deep suspicion of the political classes in the USA and on the other hand have an unwavering trust in the political classes in Europe.’

    Results .

    We all know that the EU has it’s problems and I’m no ‘lover’ of the EU bureaucracy and believe it or not I share many of the concerns about a ‘democratic deficit ‘ in the operations of the EU . However I’m not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater .

    Back to results .

    When it comes to public policy areas which are of major concern and import to most ordinary people i.e the middle and working classes the Europeans generally do better than the average American .

    In Health Care provision , Educational access and standards , Social Welfare provisions , Unemployment Insurance , and in Housing, social security provisions in old age etc etc the EU is a better deal for ordinary people . And I ‘trust ‘ the Germans , French and even the British to uphold protect and enhance those standards which are the fundamental bedrock of our democracy more so than I would the USA . We can see from the political debate in the USA that even the Democratic candidate who is challenging the Republican incumbency administration cannot even come out in public and demand ‘universal health care ‘ for all Americans as he fears the combined power of Drug Companies , the Insurance lobby, Medical & Legal professions and all who have a vested interest in making ‘health ‘ a ‘profitable ‘ business for some while ensuring minimal or no health care for the bottom 25% of american society .

    If the French or Germans or British had to swallow what Americans have to in regard of health care they would long since have taken to the streets and there would have been ‘bloody ‘ revolution.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ‘

    ‘You, however, assume that Europe is already a nation state and’

    News to me . The EU is a union of member states and can never be a ‘nation ‘ state for it is made up of 26 different nations . Would you call the USA a ‘nation ‘ state or a federal republic ?

    ‘You believe (wrongly) that membership of the EU is in Ireland’s national interest, and I hold that it is detrimental to Ireland’s national interest.’

    The overall political and economic history of Ireland 1973 through 2008 is enough evidence for me that membership of the EU has been and will continue to be in Ireland’s national interest .

    ‘we have more millionaires per capita than any other country other than Japan’

    So? I don’t believe that was the case between 1800 and 1922 nor for that matter between 1922 and 1973 . Access to the EU and through the EU to global markets made that possible. Having a truly democratic society is about more than creating ‘millioniares’ . To be a truly democratic society means having equal access to health care and education for all classes in societyand not just the rich. Having a ‘free market’ free for all with the rich getting richer while the middle and working classes become steadily poorer in relative terms will only lead to political instability and eventually bloody revolution . Ireland will/would be no exception .

    The current political debate in the USA is bringing that particular issue i.e the increasing divide between the have lots and have nots into greater focus.

    ‘and that membership of the EU (in any form) will only serve to limit our potential as a nation state rather than advance ‘

    Now I’m as much of a fan of Charles Stewart Parnell as the next man and while respecting Parnells work on trying to repeal Home Rule and bring self government to Ireland I think we have to be realistic about Ireland’s potential . We are not Japan nor China nor India nor for that matter Switzerland . And although some of us may aspire to a UI I doubt if there are any who aspire to ‘marching ‘ or advancing onto our neighbouring island 🙂

    ‘I hold that we are not equals but superiors’

    Oh you do do you ? Irland uber alles then ?
    What next ? We have an edge in some fiscal corporate taxation areas and the internet age has made us less isolated but it still costs more to truck goods from Ireland to Poland than from Germany to Poland .

    ‘You go further and wish Ireland to become a region of a federal EU’

    If there is to be a Federal Europe at some point in the future then it will be because the nation states of the EU will accept that that is the best way for the separate European nations to protect their interests in a world where the balance of economic power is once again shifting east to China and the East that ‘balance ‘ having been borrowed by the European imperial nation states and their main Colonial derivative the USA for the past 250 ? years or so . In that future world economic context Ireland’s only ‘bargaining’ chip will be as a member of a Federal EU. Ireland should of course exploit it’s EU membership as a bridge between the EU and the USA .

    ‘and I say over my dead body.’

    Well you would -‘superior people’ are into dead bodies however it’s mostly other people’s 🙁

    What we have learned from recent european history is that when the extreme left and extreme right get together then ‘dead bodies’ have a tendency to multiply . Ask any Pole how the Soviet- German Non Agression Pact worked out for them (the Poles ) in 1938/39 ?

    So when you take delight in enjoying the fruits of a Libertas /SF / Neo Nazi European racist short term ‘unity ‘ you should be glad that it’s Ireland 2008 you live in and not Warsaw in 1939 .

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘the Irish people have no intention of trading one form of colonisation for another.

    I would’nt doubt it if that’s what was being offered but it’s not . We Irish had no choice in the earlier half colonisation – I say half for in truth the English never put their mind to a full colonisation for had they done so there would be no Ireland. For the growing English Empire – Scotland , Ireland and Wales were backdoors to England which needed to be militarily and economically ‘neutralised’ until such time as they ‘willingly ‘ Scotland in 1707 and Ireland in 1801 became part of Brittania Incorporated. Wales being geographically less remote was crushed into ‘fealty’ (no pun intended Mick if you read this ) in the 14th century .

    ‘Success was achieved under the principle of self-determination. ‘

    That it was. But at what cost ? For a long period 1922 to the mid 1960’s what you call ‘success’ resulted in the emigration of almost one million people and a cultural, political and economic stagnation, that made Ireland the backwater of western europe . It was only through our opening up to the world through the Anglo Irish Free Trade Agreement and membership of the EU that enabled this country to use it’s ‘self determination’ in a manner which had a positive impact on the lives of most of the people in this country .

    You are mistaking a tool for the end product . Self determination is a means to an end – not an end in itself once achieved .

    By your logic Zimbabwe should be enjoying the fruits of it’s hard won right to self determination ? But for some odd reasons that does not appear to be the case ?

  • Greenflag

    dave

    ‘re your post no 24 on Jun 21, 2008 @ 04:18 AM’

    ‘Greenflag, first of all, I apologise for the sarcastic comment ‘

    Let him who is without sarcasm throw the first stone 🙂

    I’m fully aware of how and why the EU began no need for the history lesson. I’m aware of all the issues you refer to in this post and I share some of your views.

    We live in a ‘world ‘ very different from that of post war Europe or the Europe of 1956 or indeed the Europe of the mid 1980’s. The EU’s member states as individual states will have increasingly less influence over world trade and will have to pool their resources to be able to protect their interests . Whether this pooling becomes a matter of what you call inter governmental voluntary cooperation or a federal arrangement seems to be your main concern .

    The USA ‘States’ have individual state rights in many matters but there are also Federal Laws which overide State laws in certain areas . The people of Ohio do not alone formulate USA foreign policy nor do Texans impose their state taxes on other states -Yet all americans vote for the President and Federal government . Many americans would make the point that the USA is not a nation state being composed of originally many nations . What they have which Europe does not have is a short history and just one or two ‘civil ‘ wars on their own soil excluding the Indian wars .

    An EU Federal Republic is IMO a long way away and this Lisbon Treaty was intende to improve the efficiency of decision making throughout it’s institutions and nothing else .

    ‘While there is no reason to fear war within Europe’

    Europeans would have a different perspective given their history over the past millenia . We recently had several wars within the former Yugoslavia which you may have forgotten . At least within the EU membership ‘war’ against a fellow member state is now inconceivable. Countries which fail to hold free and fair elections are not admittted to the union.

    ‘ there is solid reason to predict that EU integration will end in separatist terrorism and civil war between those who are loyal to their national identity and those who assumed the artificially engineered national identity of European.’

    What is this solid reason? Any actual evidence other than a gut feel ? Is British an ‘artifically engineered national identity ‘ or was it imposed militarily ? At least we the people had a vote re joing the EU . If you can still be British and a Scot or British and Welsh or British and Irish why not top the mix off with European ?

    Europe like Britain will always be a combination of nation states regardless of whether it’s future political orientation will be federal or not . The best safeguard for those individual ‘nation ‘ states in the EU is to be part of a combination in which the smaller states together outnumber the largest ones both in absolute numbers and in total population.