Deal done on Lisbon treaty

So it looks like a big win for Ireland and a brief welcome distraction from the economic crisis. It includes assurances on all the subterranean fears and even the usual humbug of Irish neutrality.

It also emerged yesterday that the Government has forced changes to a key declaration on European security and defence policy (ESDP), which aims to boost existing EU ties with Nato. The changes to the declaration reflect Irish efforts to have the UN’s role highlighted at the European Council meeting, where EU leaders will pledge to give a “fresh impetus to European security and defence, in full complementarity with Nato”.

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “even the usual humbug of Irish neutrality.”

    The policy of neutrality is a delusion? The idea of not wanting to be involved in wars makes no sense to you?

    From the Irish Times,

    “EU leaders are expected to specify that Ireland must ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the term of the current European Commission ends on October 31st, 2009.”

    And if it is defeated again what happens then?

  • Pete Baker


    The Irish Times also has the text of those draft conclusions.

  • Henry94

    There has been no changes whatsoever to the treaty. This entire exercise is based on an assumption that people voted on abortion and neutrality. Indeed some did but those people always vote “No” and will do so again.

    The problem for the government was the people who used to vote yes but switched. They were motivated largely by concerns about immigration and there is nothing for them in these declarations.

    So this thing will go down again in my view.

  • George

    My final offer is this: nothing.

  • They were motivated largely by concerns about immigration…

    Have you any evidence for this at all? Certainly Millward Brown (pdf), polling for the DFA, found that people who abstained (especially from low income groups) were found to be less positive about immigration, but very few cited it as a motivation.

    Gallup’s survey (pdf again) for the European Commission pointed to the success of the ‘if you don’t know (and couldn’t be bothered finding out) vote no’ element in the debate. But only 1% cited immigration. Even if we presume ‘protect Irish identity’ is code for ‘keep foreigners out,’ which doesn’t seem fair, only 12% cited that.

  • Ri Na Deise

    I want to see what happens if we reject it again. The eurocrats are taking a fairly threatening position on this. What can they really do? All mouth and no trousers Id say.

  • Dave

    George, you might find these two recently published (Dec 8) essays from Christopher Bickerton and Bruno Waterfield at the Manifesto Club to be both relevant and interesting.

    [i]”Both essays explore how the Lisbon vote has clarified the anti-democratic methods of Europe’s elites – and how this is also a moment of political hope. There is a new political dividing line, argues Waterfield, ‘between those who accept the political process should be based on mistrust of the people, behind the EU’s closed doors, and those who do not. The EU referendum question has become constitutional in the true sense of the word: it is about the nature of politics, who participates in politics, and for whom political structures are organised.’ Politics that is off-the-record, Limité, is not politics: it is a return to the dealings of princely courts. At the very least, European political chambers should be reported and open to public view.” – Josie Appleton, convenor, Manifesto Club[/i]

    For example, you can see the Europhile mentality that allows an Irish government minister today to announce an act of treason against the Irish people by conflating the will of “our European partners” as being superior to the will of the Irish people as expressed in a democratic poll:

    “Work remains to be completed with our European partners over the coming months and any second referendum is conditional on satisfactory conclusion of that work.” – Micheal Martin, the Irish Foreign Minister

    Bruno Waterfield’s essay explains this mentality in more detail in the conflict between nation-states and member states:

    [i]The question of referendums and referendum rejections has dogged the EU since the early 1990s, as its structures have become increasingly important to European governments. The Maastricht Treaty, which gave the European Union its name, was only narrowly approved by a referendum in France known as the ‘Petit Oui’. The Danes voted No. In Britain, a Conservative government almost tore itself apart over the question of a British vote – a debate that haunts the Tories to this day.

    By 1992, it was becoming clear that an EU billed as ‘an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’ was nothing of the sort. ‘The “Petit Oui”… provided an unmistakable sign that an elite-driven process of integration relying on a popular “tacit consensus” had run its course’, concluded one group of academic researchers in Belfast. The EU, by the early 1990s, represented a ‘union’ of ‘member states’ – a mechanism for collaboration between European political elites. This development was based on the converging interests of Europe’s governing classes, in a post-Cold War era increasingly defined by consensus politics that spanned traditional party-political divides.

    In a recent speech, Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, explained that European structures were about managing and avoiding conflicts of national interest. ‘The concept of “national interest” can seem outmoded and unattractive. In both public opinion and specialist circles, we tend to associate the idea with the cynical pursuit of self-interest’, he said. ‘We like to think diplomats have moved beyond that kind of thinking in the twenty-first century. In the European context this feeling becomes stronger. European integration has been built on compromises. So a ruthless pursuit of national interests sits ill with the European method of consensus-building.’

    Since the 1990s the EU has built highly resilient structures to manage conflicts of interests between member states – especially to contain the interests of a reunified Germany. Europe’s governing classes are today conditioned in ‘the European method of consensus building’, a form of decision-making that manages conflicts of EU member state interests behind closed doors, between conclaves of officials, ministers or heads of state and government.

    Mark Leonard, who heads the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, describes the EU as an ‘invisible hand’, a form of statecraft or a way of doing politics that transforms nation states into member states from within. ‘Europe has been able to extend itself into the lives of Europeans largely unchallenged by seeping into the existing structure of national life, leaving national institutions outwardly intact but inwardly transformed. The “Europeanisation” of national political life has largely gone on behind the scenes but its very invisibility has seen the triumph of a unique political experiment’, he wrote in his 2005 book. The EU has evolved, not as a federal super-state that crushes nations underfoot, but as an expanding set of structures and practices that have allowed Europe’s political elites to conduct increasing areas of policy without reference to the public.[/i]

  • George

    Hi Dave,
    I hadn’t seen these, thanks I’ll have a look.

    I heard the Attorney General speak last week and he certainly seemed be in the “fait accompli” camp. He is a man clearly focused on a future involving a ratified Lisbon, there is no alternative view.

    If I was asked to describe him, I would say he is as an out and out legal federalist.

  • Brian Walker

    wilde rover, Of course the deal changes little beyond the tangible ( and in my view sensible) concession of a commissioner for every member State. Most of the rest is poltergeist like Irish neutrality which has always been a free ride with the West. Nevertheless every member State expresses its own cherished identity. Ireland and the UK have their respective funny wee ways of being and doing and these will be preserved until the people think otherwise. The unseen hand of European integration is a myth beloved of conspiracy theorists who flock to blogs and websites. Free speech and all that…

  • Greenflag

    Meanwhile back in the real world

    ‘The British pound has continued its sharp decline against the euro, reaching a new daily record low of 1.1236 euros on Thursday.

    It is at the lowest level since the euro was launched in 1999.

    The pound gained one cent against the US dollar, reaching $1.4967, as against 1.4827 on Wednesday.

    The dollar also fell against other currencies, hitting the lowest level against the euro and the Japanese yen for the past six weeks.

    Sterling was pushed lower after figures from the Confederation of British Industry confirmed a sharp downward trend in manufacturing.

    The UK currency is expected to remain under broad selling pressure amid a grim outlook for the British economy. ‘

    I told yiz to get rid of sterling while ye can . This is a one way currency and it’s going down . Northern Ireland’s border retailers will be delighted that is until they try to book their winter sun holiday to Spain 😉

    Greenflag will be voting yes again . Libertas and SF and the rest of the shower of neo con ultra facist anti EU neo conservative Iraqi war profiteers can go f**k themselves !

    The sooner the UK gives up on it’s pseudo currency the better for the UK and the rest of Europe .

  • I agree that immigration was a factor, but it’s very hard to get people to admit that. The clearest evidence came in a Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post that revealed differing levels of concern on immigration among yes and no voters. Among no voters, around 65% were concerned about it, compared to 51% among yes voters. As a no voter I readily admit this was a big deal for me. While opposed to racism, I firmly believe that the anti-racist cause can only triumph where the public has confidence in our asylum and immigration system, and I do not see that as compatible with giving the ECJ jurisdiction over this area as the Charter of Fundamental Rights would do if Lisbon passes. The last thing we need is yet another avenue of legal-challenges to deportations. It’s ridiculous that 60% of judicial-reviews granted per annum by the courts relate to asylum-and immigration when you consider that since 1994, the equivalent of just 1.5-2% of the population of the Republic were or are asylum-seekers. The taxpayer is paying for their legal-teams to frustrate deportations, resulting in a situation where only 25% of deportations actually go ahead (around 2,000 in the last 10 years). In my personal opinion, one key factor in politicians’ support for the Charter is that many are lawyers and see the Charter as a nestegg for when they are rightly ejected from domestic politics by a sensible electorate.

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “is poltergeist like Irish neutrality which has always been a free ride with the West.”

    Neutrality is about not being involved in military alliances with other states. For example, when the United States was attacked by a group of Saudi Arabians, Britain went off to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.

    The most tragically amusing part of that fiasco was that it was justified by saying Saddam was a war criminal because he gassed the Kurds.

    Valid grounds for outrage, unless you are aware that the first person to gas the Kurds was Winston Churchill (also the first person to bomb civilians from the air).

    When Irish troops go abroad they go there to help people there, when British troops go abroad they go there to help themselves.

    “The unseen hand of European integration is a myth beloved of conspiracy theorists who flock to blogs and websites.”

    I envy your omnipotence Brian. I myself am a mere mortal that must deal with the unknown. Would it be possible for you to turn up at my house at Christmas this year? There will be a large group of people and we may need you to turn some water into wine.


    “Libertas and SF and the rest of the shower of neo con ultra facist anti EU neo conservative Iraqi war profiteers can go f**k themselves !”

    You don’t accept the democratic will of the people and yet you have the temerity to label the No voters as ultra fascist?

    As for the conflation of the Lisbon Treaty and anything and everything else going on in the world, I await with bated breath the results of you cutting open the entrails of a chicken to see what else the future holds.

  • Henry94


    Will all due respect to the polls I was predicting, here and elsewhere, the defeat of Lisbon the first time when the polls were predicting it would be passed.

    What changed in Ireland between the passing of the Nice treaty and the defeat of Lisbon? It was certainly nothing to do with defense and abortion. The same people made the same points on those issues that they always had before.

    They got their vote out as usual but they were joined by a whole bunch of new anti-EU voters. The pols are not reflecting their concerns because they are often unwilling to state them unless they feel free to do so.

    I don’t share their concerns by the way. I’m 100% for the right of people to live where they want on this earth.

    But they are real voters and they will defeat Lisbon again.

  • Henry94/Brian Boru, I agree that it’s very hard to get people to say ‘I voted x because I want immigration reduced,’ for fear that they be badged as racist (or because they are racists but not proud of it). Also, I know that there is a correlation between less positive feelings on immigration and a no vote. But you should be very careful here: inferring causation from correlation is very dangerous in formulating any theory of why people vote. Also, your own experience is nothing more than that.

    This is more than nit-picking: political campaigns (on either side) are formed on such impressions and – I’ll say again – we actually don’t have evidence for anything but what people actually told pollsters. Every other claim about motivations is a guess.

    Oh, and Henry: the polls were more or less right too, within the margin of error. And your predicting the result doesn’t give you a privileged insight into people’s minds. We don’t know what people are unwilling to say about Lisbon because we’re not clairvoyant.

  • Henry94


    The polls were right at the end. Paddy Power had already paid out on a Yes vote before the polls reflected what was obvious on the ground.

    And the polls since picked up the concerns about abortion and neutrality but those concerns are perennial.

    They did not pick up the reason for the swing. There is nothing to suggest a big swing against abortion in Ireland. So what has changed since Nice?

  • Greenflag

    Wilde rover ,

    ‘You don’t accept the democratic will of the people ‘

    I do as long as it’s democratic and not a 27% minority of the electorate making a decision that will have a lasting impact on 100% of the electorate . As I said in earlier threads on this topic the Irish Republic needs to modernise it’s ‘referendum ‘ system so that no vote is binding unless at least 70 to 75% of the electorate actually cast their votes . This is too important a decision to be allowed to squeak by into law by a 1 or 2 per cent majority on a turnout of 52% . I will be equally condemnatory of the result should the YES vote win next time out by 5% on a turnout of less than 70% .

    The NO camp as well as the ‘opposition ‘ parties need to move to amend the voting mechanism for ‘referenda ‘ to allow for minimum turn out votes . The best time to do it would be in conjunction with this next Lisbon vote . Will it happen . Probably not 🙁

  • Greenflag

    Henry 94 ,

    ‘I’m 100% for the right of people to live where they want on this earth.’

    You might want to rephrase that comment Henry94 . If say 50 million Chinese or 30 Million Indians and or 5 million Germans or Frenchmen or 4 million Poles or 10 million Malaysians decide to upstakes and move to this island you would fold your arms and wish all the newcomers Cead Mile Failte as you fall on your arse backwards over the Cliffs of Moher into the Atlantic Ocean 😉

    There is a limit on what any society can absorb in terms of immigrants and I would suggest that if the number of immigrants exceeds the local indigenous population then you can expect all kinds of ‘culture ‘ wars etc etc . I believe the USA currently has 35 million ‘immigrants ‘ from all over the world mostly South and Central American and some 12 million ‘illegals . Together this makes up some 47 million people or about 16% of the USA total population . I would say that that is about the limit that any society can ‘absorb’ . Ireland and the UK/Germany /France etc are no different . There should be an ‘escape ‘ clause for all EU countries that would allow a ‘ceiling ‘ to be put on the number of permanent immigrants allowed to live and work in each member state.

    Some of the No voters have a point re their concerns on uncontrolled immigration . The Irish Government as well as the other EU States and the EU need to have a common policy that respects each countries culture and political stability.

  • Dave

    Greenflag, I think the ‘escape clause’ is set at 10%. As Ireland already exceeds that upper limit, that rules out a large injection of British nationals anytime soon.

    By the way, I’m going to write to the BBC and plead with them to increase their pension payments to their retired political hacks. That way, they might be able to afford a generous amount of global travel in their retirement, thereby sparing the rest of us from having to peruse their insufferable brand of left-wing, pro-European tripe on Internet blogs.

  • Henry94


    Munster people have the right to go and live in Dundalk. That doesn’t mean they all will. Some would if it was booming of course. Ireland had a lot of immigration during the celtic bubble and will probably have net outflows as the recession bites.

    I agree with your concern about mandates but I would resolve it by compulsory voting. Why give the apathetic a veto they don’t want. It would make small and uncontroversial changes almost impossible.

    You should have a legal obligation to collect your ballot paper. After that you can do want you like with it.