The UK and Ireland, nervously united on the Lisbon Treaty

You gain security but you lose power – that always was the deal in the Lisbon Treaty. The UK and Ireland are Siamese twins as never before. In Brussels,

Gordon Brown led the attempt to reach a compromise with Brian Cowen, the taoiseach, after the Irish leader warned he would lose the referendum expected in early October unless the concessions to Dublin took the form of a special “protocol” in European law. Given Tory opposition to the Lisbon treaty, the prime minister’s priority was to avoid any hint that the pledges to the Irish changed the Lisbon charter, requiring it to be revisited by the House of Commons.

If Ireland votes “no” a Conservative government is pledged to follow with a British referendum which will throw politics into a worse turmoil than today. At least the main Irish parties are unitedly pro-Europe. The British system is chronically divided.
Brussels –based think tank the Centre for European Reform is relieved that Libertas was obliterated in the European elections but is still nervous – at least Libertas was a focus for opposition that could now be dispersed among the independents and minority parties. Open Europe is scathing about the latest deal which in truth was always going to be a bit of oul’ cod to cover up the political incompetence of the first run. But after fears and fancies lost the first referendum, what was the alternative, except to throw some more wet fish at the thing again? No, we don’t want to abort your babies or get your sons killed in Afghanistan. Nevertheless the Eurosceptic think tank does its best to shiver the timbers.

The Treaty abolishes the national veto in more than 60 areas of policy – on everything from transport to the rights of criminal suspects and even some aspects of foreign policy. Ireland will lose 40% of its power to block EU laws it disagrees with – compared with a 4% decrease in Germany’s power to block legislation.

Well Germany is 15 times bigger so Ireland hasn’t done badly. And just to help the cause along, Sarkozy’s coming back to town, says Maman Poulet. If they don’t make it yes this time, they may was well bring back the kerns and gallowglasses to run the place. Party representative government in Ireland will have suffered a fatal blow. In the middle of a huge financial crisis, the whole thing falls apart, the currency link, the lot. What’s the alternative? Vote to rejoin the Union? ( There, that’ll do it). BTW, What a lot of humbug over the principle of holding a second referendum. In Ireland the Eurosceptics say you shouldn’t; in Britain, they say you must.

  • “If they don’t make it yes this time”

    Sure, there’ll always be another time – until they manage to figure out the CORRECT answer 🙂

  • SM

    Why should Ireland vote yes? The choice is not lose even more sovereignty via Lisbon or leave the EU – vote no and keep things as they are. If Lisbon was put to the vote EU-wide it would not pass yet the governments are intent on pushing it through. Lisbon has provisons to extend EU powers without needing further treaties and that is why it is particularly dangerous. The peoples of Europe want free trade and friendly co-operation not an EU seeking to become a state.

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: If Ireland votes “no” a Conservative government is pledged to follow with a British referendum which will throw politics into a worse turmoil than today.
    Brian. Do you think the UK should have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. And why not?

  • Because if Gordon Brown doesn’t stick it out, and if Ireland doesn’t vote “Yes” in time, then Cameron (soon to be twinned with the fascists of the old Communist block) could have bigger P.R. problems than even Burlesconi.

    That’s why the Tory “demands” for a General Election are merely posturing.

    Frankly, the opposition to Lisbon (whose provisions are now so diluted it could probably qualify as homeopathy) is mere hot air.

  • peter

    Have you in Ireland been instructed by your Masters in Brussels as to what date you will hold a ‘third’ referendum should you be so insolent as to vote ‘No’ again?.

    We will have a referendum here regardless of what happens in Ireland, i assure you of that.

    ———————
    Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither” — Benjamin Franklin
    ————

    September 6, 2005
    British EU leaders urge Blair to end secret law-making
    By Anthony Browne, Brussels Correspondent

    TONY BLAIR must use his power as President of the EU to end the “medieval” practice of European legislation being decided behind closed doors, according to an unprecedented joint declaration by the leaders of all British political groups in Brussels.

    Critics claim that the Council of Ministers, the EU’s supreme law-making body, which decides two thirds of all Britain’s laws, is the only legislature outside the Communist dictatorships of North Korea and Cuba to pass laws in secret.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article563177.ece

    ‘Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.’

    Jean Monnet, founding father of the EUSSR.

    Myth of the week

    The European Union is democratically controlled

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2004/08/myth-of-week.html

    Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/865

  • caoimhin

    In the present economic climate Ireland may buckle and vote yes as the main parties (FF and FG) blackmail the electorate with threats of economic chaos.

    Also, after the loss of Mary Lou’s seat (SF) and Libertas suffering, the opposition is sure to be a lot quieter this time around.

    Unfortunately I think it’s going to be third time lucky for this sell-out.

  • I’m still wrestling with the complexities of Brian Walker’s throwaway:

    If they [grammatically that’s Sarkozy and Germany, but just might also be the RoI electorate — help me out here, people] don’t make it yes this time, they may [w]as well bring back the kerns and gallowglasses to run the place.

    I’m sure there was a simple idea there sometime, but it would appear to have mislaid itself under the odd unnecessary metaphor.

    Those kerns and gallowglasses are presumably from Macbeth, I.ii.7-12:

    The merciless Macdonwald
    Worthy to be called a rebel, for to that
    The multiplying villainies of nature
    Do swarm upon him from the Western Isles
    Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied …

    Else, I guess I’m one of the few who could tell you that Richard Stanyhurst, in his Historye of Ireland [1577] described the Irish chief to have five classes of followers: daltins or boys, grooms, kerns, gallowglasses, and horsemen.

    So what is the good Brian Walker telling us here?

    Is the merciless Macdonwald a side-swipe at our sadly-defenestrated Mary Lou? Hardly …

    So, am I to decode this as a belief that, after another rejection of Lisbon, it’s some kind of SNP/Wee Free military government imported from the Western Isles? Notice, too, that Shakespeare’s sergeant, as cited above, reckons those kerns and gallowglasses sprang from The multiplying villainies of nature. Now, I decode that phrase to mean the swarming masses of the lowest tier of wild-and-woolly Highland and Island society (let’s not involve ourselves, unless we have to, in the multi-stranded implication of “Nature” to the 16th/17th century mind).

    Ah! I have it now!

    Walker is warning us about the culchies. When I was a mere buoyo in the early ’60s, the term used to describe the wild backwoodsmen (specifically unreconstructed Fianna Fáil), who came along to Ard Fheiseanna, to cause the management trouble was “Balubas”. For those who missed the occasion, the first colonial war fought by the Irish Army, on behalf of the UNO “peacekeepers”, was in the Congo: the Balubas did for the 36th Infantry Battalion in the Battle of the Tunnel in Elizabethville (three Irish dead: Dublin came to a standstill).

    Hmm. “Western Isles”, “kerns and gallowglasses”, “Balubas”: it all seems a trifle racist to me. In fact, just the thing for those “little Englanders” lining up behind Cameron and the flat-earthers of Ganley’s Libertas.

  • SM

    There will be no economic chaos if Lisbon remains unratified. The Irish people have nothing to fear voting No.

  • SM

    Malcolm

    Nothing “little England” about voting for Cameron and the Conservatives, they got votes and candidates elected in each of the four home nations of the UK in the election just past. Wanting the EU to be common market not super-state is a perfectly reasonable desire and is in fact what we were promised in the only referendum we ever had on it in the UK. Why is not wanting to give away all your democracic state’s power to a corrupt and unelected EU ruling class portrayed as “backward” “Euro-sceptic” “unEuropean” etc.? The EU is broken, Lisbon makes it worse not better – we want to fix it and make the EU a positive thing.

    If you have a vote in the RoI referendum, vote No.

  • Dave

    It really comes down to whether the people want democratic self-government or not. People don’t seem to understand the relationship between sovereignty and democracy. Sovereignty is the power to act, and democracy is the process of selecting who they choose to act. Transferring sovereignty to unelected third parties renders democracy impotent, leaving the nation with the power to elect people to government but removing from that government the power to make decisions on the nation’s behalf. Most government that occurs in Ireland is now foreign government, yet there is no accountability at all for how that government has destroyed the state.

    Benjamin Franklin would hold that the right to self-determination is inalienable and that, therefore, it cannot be given away. He would also hold that that right belongs to the nation and not to the state and that, therefore, the state cannot give it way. The state cannot give it away and the nation cannot give it away either. That would be something that he would see the people as having the right to take up arms against. The state has not merely loaned or “pooled” the nation’s sovereignty: it has transferred ownership of it via treaties to the EU, and none of those treaties have exit clauses. While the Lisbon treaty does include an exit clause, it does not permit a state to exit on its own terms. If Ireland wanted to exit, it is likely that the EU could seek substantial compensation for the amount of revenue that it would lose from Irish territorial waters. Since membership of the EU has led to the EU plundering fishing stock worth somewhere between 100 and 150 billion from Irish waters, it is likely that the compensation sought would be prohibitively exorbitant.

    Does one generation have the right to give away the right to self-determination of a nation, depriving future generations of that right? My own view is that the right to self-determination includes the right to renounce the right to self-determination, so that it is not inalienable. One generation may surrender that right and another generation may act to reclaim it if that is its wish. I have no doubt that future generations will act to reclaim it and that will lead to, among other things, civil war between those who regard themselves as the original nation and those who have been inoculated with the new nationality of European and who are loyal to their new state.

  • Denis Cooper

    If anybody interested in the exact nature of the legally binding guarantees secured by Brian Cowen after hard negotiations, the Presidency Conclusions are here:

    http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/108622.pdf

    The relevant section starts on pdf page 3.

    Unfortunately there’s nothing in the EU treaties which allows EU leaders to take any such “Decision” on what the treaties mean, while there is something in the treaties which says that the European Court of Justice will decide what the treaties mean.

    In any case, even if it had some legal value, that Decision is not said to be with immediate effect, as one might expect, but only after the Treaty of Lisbon has come into force.

    And therefore the much-discussed protocol, which once fully ratified by all member states would give the guarantees an effective legal status as part of the treaties, can’t and won’t be attached to the Lisbon Treaty before the repeat referendum.

    In fact, it wouldn’t even be drafted until “the time of the conclusion of the next accession Treaty” – that’s if the EU leaders or their successors still wanted to do it, by the time the Croats and Slovenes had finally settled their maritime border dispute:

    http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2009/06/croatian-slovenian-border-talks-collapse/65262.aspx

    Oh, and the reason why this Decision doesn’t make it necessary for other countries to re-ratify is not because “its content is fully compatible with the Treaty of Lisbon”, but because there’s no way that such a Decision could have any legal effect whatosever on the Treaty of Lisbon.

    In legal reality, the second referendum will just be a repeat referendum on exactly the same treaty.

  • ROI Voter

    Caoimhin: “Also, after the loss of Mary Lou’s seat (SF) and Libertas suffering, the opposition is sure to be a lot quieter this time around.”

    I shall be voting YES in the next referendum, even though I haven’t read the treaty. My reason for voting yes is because I can’t stand Libertas and all their bulls**t. In fact you could say Libertas have secured the yes vote this time.

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “The UK and Ireland, nervously united on the Lisbon Treaty”

    Indeed Brian, truly united. The fact that this treaty has been rejected by the Irish electorate is irrelevant, because the proclamations of powerless peons are irrelevant.

    And of course the British, being subjects, are better placed to accept that they are merely pleb scum and that, instead of holding silly things like referenda, they should defer to their betters in such matter lest it cause them undue mental strain.

    “At least the main Irish parties are unitedly pro-Europe.”

    Indeed Brian, the unquestioning loyalty of the main parties is a soothing balm to the vulgar outbursts of self expression found among the great unwashed.

    “But after fears and fancies lost the first referendum, what was the alternative, except to throw some more wet fish at the thing again?”

    Of course you are right Brian, the braindead dullards that make up the Irish electorate are like children, easily distracted and scared. They cannot be left to their own devices and therefore must be shown some flashing lights and shiny surfaces to soothe their savage souls.

    “No, we don’t want to abort your babies or get your sons killed in Afghanistan.”

    Quite right Brian, sometimes one has to speak one’s mind and treat these uppity curs with the contempt they deserve.

    “Party representative government in Ireland will have suffered a fatal blow.”

    Yes Brian, the cattle might break out of their pens and roam on the roads. Such chaos must be avoided at all costs.

    “What a lot of humbug over the principle of holding a second referendum.”

    Indeed Brian, but surely we can look forward to a time when the children can be led by enlightened people like ourselves, and like gods we shall shoulder the burden while they occupy themselves with less taxing matters.

    ROI Voter,

    “I shall be voting YES in the next referendum, even though I haven’t read the treaty. My reason for voting yes is because I can’t stand Libertas and all their bulls**t.”

    Kudos to you ROI Voter. And after it is all done you can return to contemplating sports teams, reality television, or whatever it is you do.

  • ActualFacts

    “And of course the British, being subjects”

    The British are citizens – have a look at the British Nationality Act 1948 (revised in 1981)

  • Cynic

    “Party representative government in Ireland will have suffered a fatal blow.”

    That depends on your viewpoint. The Constitution requires a referendum on this. If the people vote no despite what the Government recommend then the Government just have to accept it. That doesn’t cut the other way. As Citizens we don’t have to accept what they tell us. That’s democracy and its a sign of democratic health if we are sometimes sceptical of their recommendations.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘It really comes down to whether the people want democratic self-government or not. ‘

    Does it ? Just over 60% of people vote in elections and in the first Lisbon referendum 27% of the Electorate voted NO and 25 % voted YES . 47% of the electorate did’nt bother to vote . From the above figures you could according to your logic make the point that adding up those who voted YES plus those who did’nt vote that 73% of the electorate don’t want democratic self government ? Although self evidently absurd it is no more absurd than your question above .

    ‘ People don’t seem to understand the relationship between sovereignty and democracy.’


    They don’t ? . Perhaps most people haven’t ‘benefitted’ from a course in political science or macroeconomics at their local university ? In the ‘real ‘ world people understand or many at least have learned in recent times , that there is another ‘player’ in the politico economic sovereignty mix that you deliberately omit . That player is ‘international capital ‘ or more precisely the vastly increased influence in recent decades of large corporations in the financial services , insurance , shadow banking and investment capital worlds , with the power to ‘dictate’ to so called ‘sovereign ‘ governments, how economic policy should be formulated and how flows of capital should be ‘unregulated’ and distributed within any economy as per the wishes of said corporations. These ‘interests’ have no interest in the people’s ‘sovereignty’ regardless of the ‘nationality ‘ of the people .

    ‘ Transferring sovereignty to unelected third parties renders democracy impotent’

    In that case then what we have had in both Ireland and the UK and particularly in the USA over the past several decades is ‘impotent ‘ democracy – for it’s the unelected large corporations and banks who have been calling the shots re economic policy and I don’t mean just in the Iraqi /Afghan Wars !

    ‘ Most government that occurs in Ireland is now foreign government’

    Is this any different to anywhere else in the EU or indeed the USA ostensibly the richest and most sovereign of nations , which now has it’s economic policies ‘dictated ‘ by the Communist Chinese who hold a trillion dollars in American securities, and the emerging markets whose vast holdings of ‘petro dollars ‘ which tomorrow can, in a worst case scenario, reduce the dollar to half it’s present international value ? Where then is your so called ‘sovereignty ‘?

    ‘ yet there is no accountability at all for how that government has destroyed the state.”

    The problem facing Ireland and the other 27 nations in the EU is how to make that Parliament ‘accountable ‘ to the European electorate as a whole . At least the EU has stronger anti trust legislation which can mitigate the power of oligarchic capitalism to destroy competition . Much more so than any individual ‘nation state’ anywhere on the planet.
    .

    Given Britain’s dependence on trade with the EU it only makes sense for Britain to be part of the EURO common currency . The world has moved on from 1914 and 1939 . The UK along with Ireland and many of the other members can be constructive in ensuring that future development of the EU becomes more democratic than it otherwise might! This will mean an extension and strengthening of individual rights as protection against those interests some of whom would if they could, reduce the living standards of europeans to third world levels if they could make more profit in doing so .

    And I say that as a ‘capitalist’ and a YES voter !!

  • Basil

    I thought it was called the Lisburn treaty

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘Benjamin Franklin would hold that the right to self-determination is inalienable and that, therefore, it cannot be given away. He would also hold that that right belongs to the nation and not to the state and that, therefore, the state cannot give it way. The state cannot give it away and the nation cannot give it away either.’

    For most of his life Benjamin Franklin was a ‘loyalist’ i.e loyal to King and country and upholder of the British establishment at that time both in the USA and Britain. He eventually opted for American independence and thus became ‘disloyal’ and chose to be a ‘traitor’ to his ‘old country’ and a patriot in his ‘new ‘country ‘ Had Americans lost their war of independence which without French support they would have -Franklin and other signatories of the Declaration of Independence would have been hanged as ‘rebels and terrorists ‘

    ‘That would be something that he would see the people as having the right to take up arms against.’

    Somehow or other I don’t think we Irish will ever have a problem spotting ‘tyranny’ when we see it . Comes from much of our ‘historical ‘ experience you might say 😉

    And no we also won’t have a problem taking up arms against any such tyranny either . As far as I know so far no member State has decided to leave the EU and it’s been in existence for over 50 years . On the country there is now a queue of approx a dozen applicants and would be entrants from Iceland to Turkey and even Serbia and Ukraine ?

  • Denis Cooper

    If you want to understand one of the principle reasons for the severity of the economic problems in the Republic, take a look at this chart:

    http://sdw.ecb.europa.eu/browseChart.do?DATASET=0&CURRENCY=Z59&node=2018795&FREQ=D&SERIES_KEY=120.EXR.D.Z59.EUR.EN00.A

    Of course the exchange rate is only one factor, while interest rates are another; and then there are others not connected with the euro.

  • I am not convinced by this conjob of ‘guarantees’ that will be overturned by the ECJ. Were the elites serious they would have annexed them to the Lisbon Treaty. The wording on taxation fails to address the specific threat of CCCTB/destination-corporation-taxes planned by EU Tax Commissioner Laslo Kovacs who wants to make companies pay their corporate-taxes proportionately to the govts of sales-destination. With 90% of Irish products exported, that would lose the govt billions each year, regardless of the rate at which corporate-tax was levied. We are being promised that if we vote yes, these assurances will be annexed to a future Treaty in the deep blue yonder, like the Croatian accession treaty. However, Slovenia is threatening to veto Croatian accession to the EU on grounds of a maritime border-dispute with its neighbour. And in Croatia itself, the pro-EU side only leads the no side 48-40 in a poll this month. The question of what becomes of the ‘guarantees’ if Croatian membership falls through has not been adequately addressed.

    In any case, these guarantees do not cover my areas of concern which caused me to vote no the last time. Namely, the Charter of Fundamental Rights being enshrined into EU law, the abolition of national vetoes and the govt’s public intention to scrap the optout on Justice and Home Affairs within 3 years, and the self-amending provisions of Article 48. I cannot accept the Charter, which would give the ECJ the final say on asylum-cases. Article 15 states that ‘everyone has the right to work in a freely chosen occupation’. This will lead to challenges to Ireland’s ban on asylum-seekers working. Article 18 states that ‘collective expulsions are forbidden’. This will lead to challenges to individual deportation-orders in the ECJ. Then there are other provisions, expanding ECJ jurisdiction in a myriad of areas including family law, freedom of speech, capital punishment etc. I am also watching very closely for the referendum-legislation next week. The original one, last year, talked about allowing the govt to relinquish the veto on Justice and Home Affairs with the consent of the Oireachtas without a referendum (by relinquishing the relevant Protocol and the UK and Ireland with respect to the area of Justice and Freedom). If that is there again it’s another reason to vote no, because it would eventually mean Qualified Majority Voting on Justice and Home Affairs, including asylum, immigration, judicial cooperation and policing.

    Finally, let me tackle the dishonesty of politicians telling us we have to vote yes to save the economy. When Spain voted yes to the EU Constitution/Lisbon in 2005, unemployment doubled to its current rate of 18%. If anything, Lisbon will make the recession worse. Article 113 of the Treaty on European Union as amended by Lisbon mandates the European Council to impose “measures of harmonisation” of ‘indirect taxes and turnover taxes’ “to combat distortions of competition”. “Distortions of competition” is a clear reference to our 12.5% corporate-tax rate and a challenge to it is likely if Lisbon goes through. Don’t fall for the line from FF that seeks to shift the blame from their shoulders onto ours. It is their fault and in no way a consequence of the no vote.

  • Driftwood

    I’m unconvinced by this new group the Conservatives (including Jim Nicholson are joining:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/racists-may-plague-tory-europe-group-1710729.html

    Labour will seize on the Tories’ new friends in an attempt to undermine Mr Cameron’s credentials as a moderniser. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday: “The British public should be warned: the Tory European group may contain nuts.”

    looks more like Diane Dodds would be more comfortable among them, Dave would be as well staying where he is.

  • Reader

    Actual facts: The British are citizens – have a look at the British Nationality Act 1948 (revised in 1981)
    I think the original poster was being a bit ironic. I have cited the above act myself in a different context – and this citizen still wants the referendum that Gordon Brown promised.
    I also note that Brian Walker hasn’t yet said whether he thinks I should be able to vote in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty/Lisbon Constitution.

  • lola

    Brian Boru,

    “The wording on taxation fails to address the specific threat of CCCTB/destination-corporation-taxes planned by EU Tax Commissioner Laslo Kovacs…”

    The “assurances” are a joke – but discussion of whether they address anything or are *really* legally binding or not is moot. Lisbon itself would be legally binding and taxation *must be* decided unanimously. Laslo Kovacs can plan whatever he likes. It wouldn’t pass the Council (and Ireland would be far from the only opponent to such a plan!).

    “In any case, these guarantees do not cover my areas of concern which caused me to vote no the last time. Namely…”

    * “…the Charter of Fundamental Rights being enshrined into EU law…” – But you are fine with it already being Irish law? Why?

    * “…the abolition of national vetoes…” – Not all of them by any means (and it is traded off by an increased role for national parliaments i.e. the government in our case) plus there is still the ‘panic button’ (i.e. 31.2: “If a member of the Council declares that, for vital and stated reasons of national policy, it intends to oppose the adoption of a decision to be taken by qualified majority, a vote shall not be taken.”)

    * “…and the govt’s public intention to scrap the optout on Justice and Home Affairs within 3 years…” – Well, you can’t blame that on Lisbon!

    * “…and the self-amending provisions of Article 48.” In fairness the “self-amending” provisions only affect the TFEU and cannot increase the competency of the EU. In any national constitution, it would be the sort of stuff left to ordinary legislation so a referendum on changes to the kind of thing it covers would not (for example in Ireland) lead to a referendum. But the government could have closed the gab since any changes under the “self-amending” provisions require the assent of national parliaments (i.e. 48.7: “If a national Parliament makes known its opposition within six months of the date of such notification, the decision referred to in the first or the second subparagraph shall not be adopted.”) The October referendum could state, for example, that any change under “simplified revision procedures” would have to be put to a referendum (not politically likely!) – or (more likely) have to be referred to the President or Supreme Court to decide if it merited a referendum (for whatever reason). That sort of thing would IMHO have been far stronger than any “assurance” that came out this week (and *would be* an actual change to the subject of the referendum!).

    Reader,

    If you want a vote then the best thing you could do it get out there and start campaigning for a united Ireland 😉 It’s a far more likely scenario that Her Majesty’s Parliament giving up parliamentary sovereignty any time soon.

  • “* ”…the Charter of Fundamental Rights being enshrined into EU law…” – But you are fine with it already being Irish law? Why?”

    That is not true lola. You are confusing it with the European Convention on Human Rights, which in any case in Ireland is superseded by the Irish Constitution where a conflict occurs. The Charter will override the Irish Constitution, as EU law traditionally has since accession in 1973.

  • Reader

    lola: If you want a vote then the best thing you could do it get out there and start campaigning for a united Ireland
    Do you think Biffo would be willing to delay the Lisbon re-referendum until 2066? It’s more realistic to hope that he delays it to 2010 and that if a Conservative government is elected then I might get a Lisbon referendum.

  • Brian Walker

    Reader, Just biding my time.. Politics, unlike the idealised world of blogging is a rough and ready business. To cut to the chase, the lack of a European “demos” or single democratic will, means its institutions will remain (a)largely bureaucratic at European level and (b) subordinate to the intergovernmental or national level. Federalism was always a bogey; enlargement and now the recession has put it on a even longer finger. The political handling of the recession confirms this in spades. Nations have been acting in their own interests first but at least have managed to stick together. Whatever supervisory banking institutions are set up, the regulation of the City will remain primarily in British hands, with no doubt international layers above that. Critics are right, however: there is a real transparency gap which links between the European Parliament, the other institutions and national parliamentary committees should fill. IN uk for instance, the Lords European Committee with its sub-committees does a good scrutiny job but who has heard of them? Should there be a UK referendum? No, in my opinion. Governments
    ( strictly, parliaments) have the right to decide on holding a referendum. Without an established referendum tradition unlike Ireland, the stakes would be raised artificially high. Blair miscalculated in promising one. It was never was a fit subject for a referendum,in my view. Wait for the single currency. The Irish have no choice. History I believe will vindicate asking the question again. Many of the Dublin government’s critics of another referendum welcomed the repeated referenda on abortion, so the principle of one broad topic, one referendum is far from inviolate. Yes, the UK government can be criticised for going back on its word but in very different circumstances of today, the national interests of the UK and Ireland and of the EU as a whole rightly and rationally take priority. In the UK, a No vote could have a worse result than merely freezing the institutions. It would feed the sour instinct for withdrawal.Aside from the anti-EU ideologues, people may want to take it out on the EU because times are hard. And in a fast-changing world, that would be a bad mistake. PS Malcolm, I enjoyed your long riff on the kerns. I sang a note, you gave us a sonata.

  • lola

    RE: confusing Charter of Fundamental Rights/Convention on Human Rights – yes, I am. Silly.

    But do you really think that a ban on “collective expulsions” would threaten “individual deportation-orders”? Do you not think that there is a fundamental difference between “collective expulsions” and “individual deportation”?

    (Individual deportation-orders are already challenged in the courts for a myriad of often-times spurious reasons. No doubt someone would challenge their deportation on the basis of this section but so what? If they didn’t challenge it over that they would challenge it over something else. There is no need to shy away from making good laws just because bad people may challenge them.)

  • lula

    “..if a Conservative government is elected then I might get a Lisbon referendum.”

    I am suspicious that Cameron is betting on an Irish ‘Yes’ vote long ahead of a UK election – or at least there being ‘so much things to do and plan’ that even a 3rd Irish vote could be held in the time between a Conservative government getting into power and any chance of a UK referendum.

    The reason: what Brian Walker said. A British referendum would inevitably be a ‘No’ (for a load of reasons) and it would sour continental-UK relations almost permanently and really piss on everyone’s Europe – even the Conservatives.

  • Reader

    lula: The reason: what Brian Walker said. A British referendum would inevitably be a ‘No’ (for a load of reasons) and it would sour continental-UK relations almost permanently and really piss on everyone’s Europe – even the Conservatives.
    In summary then – no referendum because the electorate can’t be relied upon to give the ‘right’ answer. That stinks.
    But in any case, can’t the pro-Lisbon faction just make a strong, clear case for the Lisbon Treaty, highlighting the obvious benefits of ceding more control and more sovereignty to the European Commission, who have repeatedly demonstrated their attitude to frugality, practicality, common sense and diversity.
    I can assure you that if anyone could convince me that the Lisbon treaty was a good idea for me, my family and my neighbours, I would vote for it.
    lula: …or at least there being ‘so much things to do and plan’…
    That’s actually the easy bit. It would take about 5 minutes of time in parliament to undo Brown’s ratification. The referendum could be slotted in at a later date. How much campaigning time do you think Brian Walker would want?
    lula: …and it would sour continental-UK relations almost permanently and really piss on everyone’s Europe…
    The Commission looked for a way of handling a larger and more diverse EU. They decided to centralise more power in their hands, not to devolve more power to the member states. I’m pro-EU, anti Lisbon Treaty – the commission should be made to come up with a better plan. Who is going to make them do that?

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: Should there be a UK referendum? No, in my opinion. Governments ( strictly, parliaments) have the right to decide on holding a referendum.
    Moral ‘right’? EU devolved ‘right’? Legal ‘right’?
    And elsewhere you refer to the broken promise of a referendum as though it was just a bit naughty. In fact – it means the Government does not have a mandate to make the Lisbon Treaty decision on its own. Pointing out that they can get away with it is no justification for them to do it.

  • Dave

    Dan Hannan has a good article where he expounds upon what makes “otherwise good people behave badly.” I wouldn’t be so kind to the Euro-zealots myself, since these degenerates are fully aware of the anti-democratic nature of what they are engineering and how disastrously such organised violation of nations and their states will end.

    As Open Europe points out, the proposed changes to the treaty are completely worthless, taking the form of a unilateral declaration that will not have any binding status even if Irish people are dumb enough to take the word of the lying scum like the EU mandarins that they will eventually be attached to the Croatian treaty in a few years hence.

    [i]The text of the Lisbon Treaty remains unchanged – Irish voters must vote on exactly the same Treaty.

    Following the December EU summit, at which the ‘guarantees’ were first formulated, Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin promised:

    “We will not be asking people to vote on the same proposition.”

    In May, Irish Europe Minister Dick Roche reiterated this, saying:

    “Our partners understand, I believe, that we cannot and will not put the same package to our people later this year.”

    However, emerging from the summit today, Gordon Brown confirmed that nothing in the Treaty had changed, and that Irish voters will be voting on exactly the same text. He said:

    “The summit conclusions set out the fact that the protocol does not change the relationship between the European Union and the member states, and that the protocol clarifies but does not change the content and application of the Treaty… The Treaty assurances have made explicit what was implicit in the Treaty already.”

    A statement from the EU Presidency confirmed:

    “The guarantees must be sufficient in the light of the concerns of Irish citizens, yet they must not lead to the re-opening of the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty in other Member States. Thus, the text of the guarantees explicitly states that the Lisbon Treaty is not changed thereby.”

    Patrick Smyth, Brussels Correspondent for the Irish Times and strong advocate of the Lisbon Treaty, told an Open Europe meeting on 18 June that:

    “Nothing in the declarations materially affects the treaty text. If there was a material difference, then the Treaty would have to be re-ratified in all the other member states”.

    He confirmed that “the difference to the Danish case is that Denmark got an opt-out, which was a material change in effect”.

    Indeed the deal reached this week does not make a single change to the Lisbon Treaty ahead of the Irish referendum, meaning Irish voters will be asked to vote on exactly the same text a second time around.

    EU leaders have agreed that the declarations will eventually be written into EU law as a protocol attached to the Croatia Accession Treaty, expected in 2010 or 2011. However, there is no guarantee that the Treaty will be ratified, as it needs formal approval in all EU states. Even if it does become law, the protocol will do nothing to change the text of the Treaty.

    The conclusions of the summit clearly state:

    “The Protocol will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.”[/i]