by Frank Schnittger
Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 08:04:12 AM EST
Thanks to all who commented on the draft LTE. The Irish Independent has published our revised version today as follows:
Time to put the EU house in order - Letters - Independent.ie
Brian Cowen is on the record as saying that the Lisbon Treaty, if passed, would have helped the EU to deal with the world economic crisis more effectively.
Opponents have challenged this assertion, arguing that there is no evidence the Lisbon Treaty would have had much effect either way.
However, would a full-time President of the European Council (as provided for under the Lisbon Treaty) have sat on his hands whilst Sarkozy fiddled?
Then we had the spectre of the EU Commission threatening sanctions against Ireland for breaking the EU Stability and Growth Pact when it was abundantly clear that many EU member states would have to do likewise in order to ameliorate the crisis.
Meanwhile, the EU Parliament was its usual ineffectual self -- it too was to get more powers under the treaty.
Eventually the European Central Bank saw some sense and reduced its interest rates having increased them as recently as August.
Could it have been more out of touch with the reality on the ground?
The reality is that the EU has been moribund since 2005, when two countries out of the 27 members rejected the original Constitutional Treaty -- much like the USA has been a lame duck post-Iraq. But at least the USA, under Obama, now seems to be about to renew itself. Meanwhile, the EU remains paralysed.
Do we believe that Ireland, acting alone, can solve our banking and economic crisis?
It's time we put the Lisbon Treaty behind us, thus creating a full-time president of the EU Council, and giving the European parliament more power.
Then we need to get on with the task of developing a more coordinated and cohesive EU response to the enormous challenges facing us all in the current world recession.
The Irish polity seems to be turning in on itself, as the economic crisis deepens and new scapegoats are sought. The Government appears to be signaling that a second referendum might be held in October 2009, although I don't see any reason why the prospects for its success will prove any greater, the longer we leave it. If anything, the Lisbon Treaty will come to be seen as an irrelevant and irritating distraction whilst far more pressing problems go untackled.
I feel we need to be making a new case for the Treaty in the new circumstances we find ourselves in, but feel ill equipped to do so. Perhaps the collective wisdom of ET can make a contribution.
I attach, below the fold, a draft Letter to the Editor I am musing about. It lacks specifics, and a compelling argument. Perhaps we can, collectively, make a better case.
Brian Cowen is on the record as saying that the Lisbon Treaty, if passed, would have helped the EU to deal with the world economic crisis more effectively. Opponents have challenged that this is a post hoc rationalisation, and that there is no evidence that the Lisbon Treaty would have had much effect either way. However can anybody seriously doubt that a competent full time President of the European Council (as provided for under the Lisbon Treaty) would have sat on his hands whilst the Sarkozy fiddled?
Then we had the spectre of the EU threatening sanctions against Ireland for breaking the EU Stability and Growth Pact when it was abundantly clear many EU member states would have to do likewise in order to ameliorate the crisis. Finally the European Central Bank saw sense and reduced its interest rates having increased them as recently as August. Apparently it had been more concerned with inflation than recession when everyone knew that deflation was the more likely outcome of prolonged recession.
Does anyone seriously think that Ireland, acting alone, can solve our banking and financial crisis? We need only look to Iceland's current plight. Does anyone seriously think that the level of cohesion and coordination we have seen under the Sarkozy Presidency and the other EU institutional response have been adequate to the task of warding off a major economic depression?
The USA appears, finally, to be getting its act together as Obama assembles a heavyweight economic team. Europe needs to do likewise, and if the Lisbon Treaty is to be criticised, it is because it does not go far enough in addressing the institutional crises we all face. Its time to pass it and put it behind us, so that the EU can begin to tackle the far greater challenges that lie ahead.
There was irritation in Ireland when Sarkozy appeared to only consult with the major EU powers before going to the G8 Summit as EU President. President Vaclav Klaus' antics didn't go down very well either. The Irish Government was forced to act alone when the financial sector here threatened to implode - there was, at the time, no coherent EU strategy in place for dealing with such eventualities. Eventually, having criticized Ireland for the credit insurance guarantee, many other EU member states were forced to do something similar. The sense of a remote and out of touch EU bureaucracy has never been greater. The atmosphere could turn seriously sour unless a more positive vision for the EU, acting in concert under Lisbon, can be created. Over to you guys.