The UK and Ireland, nervously united on the Lisbon Treaty 2

I wrote a wrap for my thread on the future of the Lisbon Treaty in the UK and Ireland but for some reason the system won’t let me comment! ( Shurely shome mistake). Having typed out the piece, I don’t want to deny you the benefit of it ( small joke). As ever, many comments om the subject are deeply sceptical. I agree that a long line of fudges leaves plenty of room for confusion as to how the EU really operates. There is a real accountability deficit that national parliaments if they could be bothered, should supply. It’s a real omission, that in the political crisis caused by the recession in both our States, that there was been no call for greater scrutiny for EU matters. That suggests a real decline in the priority given to EU matters. There are no real precedents for the EU, an institution which is more than an alliance but less than a State. It seems obvious that an institution of 27 members is bound to be hard to run with both consent and efficiency. But there must be something right about it, when so many want to join.The recession is providing a real test, with the accent on national decision-taking now, apart from the currency factor for Euroland, but with EU consequences for all members to come. The EU’s very size probably vitiates the idea of a federation for at least a generation. Dave, it will be interesting to see how the Irish referendum is worded. Plainly the protocols count. As ever, it will be up to the national parliaments and the supreme courts to monitor how the EU institutions impinge on national life. Reader and others seem to have forgotten that we all have a vote. The British can vote Conservative. A UK referendum seems to depend on an Irish No. It seems unlikely that the Tories will proceed with one otherwise. However regardless of a UK referendum, you can be assured of a UK Euro-sceptic response which will argue for lots of subsidiarity and a new Bill of Rights which may patriate many judgments of the overloaded ECJ and the non-EU ECHR,( and deliver judgments quicker) and arrive at European norms our own way. Labour in practice is little different. A referendum on the euro is deep into the future, if ever, whatever Mandelson may toss out. The Irish, may I remind everyone, can vote No. If they do the EU will survive and Ireland will become like Norway – with the difference, that it may deal a blow to international confidence in Ireland, with unknown implications for its fragile economy.

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Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London