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LTE on Lisbon Package published [Update 2]

by Frank Schnittger Sun Dec 14th, 2008 at 08:41:50 PM EST

[Update 2] LTE Published on Second referendum on Lisbon Treaty - The Irish Times - Mon, Dec 15, 2008

Madam, – My late wife worked as a social worker for many years where one of the key concepts was that of “the presenting problem”. Clients would walk into her room referred with an alcohol problem when the real problem which emerged was that they had been sexually abused as a child by a close relative.

Women presenting with “nervous” problems or depression were actually still being beaten by their partners.

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has just committed to the European Council to ratify the Lisbon Treaty if Ireland’s “presenting problems” of loss of Commissioner and concerns about neutrality, lack of information, fear of lack of influence, social/ethical issues, threat to workers’ rights, and taxation issues are addressed in a credible manner.

But the real problem now is not just the issues which Mr Cowen has presented to the council. The real problem is Mr Cowen himself, and by making the passing of a second referendum an issue of confidence in himself and his Government, he is handing the Irish people the only means they have in the short term of getting rid of him and his spectacularly unpopular Government.

Undoubtedly, the Government will take a hammering in the June European Parliament and local council elections – for which Libertas is reinventing itself as a pan-European party and promising to run candidates in all 27 member states.

Libertas will attempt to transfer a generalised anger at the Irish political elite to an even more remote and ill-defined EU elite whilst at the same time not offending the Irish people’s basically pro-EU attitude in general.

Libertas is on solid ground when it complains about the complexity and ambiguity of the treaty. However, these issues can be addressed if the accompanying declarations are shown to be legally binding. The real issue is that the Irish people will not want to hand Mr Cowen a victory.

Perhaps a drubbing in the June elections will sate the popular anger and allow for a clearer focus on Ireland’s position within the EU for the October referendum. However, a well-financed Libertas campaign will probably skilfully exploit the sense that Ireland as the underdog is also representing many disillusioned and disenfranchised democrats throughout Europe who have been denied a direct vote on the treaty.

However, in a peculiar way a Libertas victory in June might also facilitate a referendum Yes in October – as those concerned at the “democratic deficit” within the EU will now have their representation in the European Parliament – both for Ireland and for any other member state which elects anti-Lisbon candidates. The true extent of popular anti-Lisbon sentiment throughout Europe can then be ascertained.

And in an even more ironic twist, the emergence of Libertas as a truly European Party (with no parliamentary base within Ireland) will also assist in the development of a European demos as distinct from the national polities of its constituent members.

All may not approve of its leadership, funding, or policies, but it may actually further what many pro-Europeans say they want to see happen – the emergence of a pan-European public space and representative democracy not explicitly linked to national political parties or nationalist politics. – Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER,


Update [2008-12-12 10:2:35 by Frank Schnittger]:Cowen confirms new Lisbon referendum after EU deal - The Irish Times - Fri, Dec 12, 2008

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has confirmed he is going to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty after the Government secured the legal guarantees it had requested over ethical issues, taxation, neutrality and the retention of a commissioner.

The deal was finalised at a European summit in Brussels today. However, the Government appears to have dropped its request to secure legally binding guarantees on workers rights in a new protocol that it will now seek to negotiate with its EU partners over coming months.

snip------

Britain had raised an unexpected objection to the nature of some of the legal guarantees being sought by Mr Cowen, particularly to legally binding assurances about workers’ rights.

The issue of workers’ rights is particularly sensitive in Britain, which negotiated its own protocol to the Lisbon treaty to ensure the charter of fundamental rights could not override British domestic law. EU sources said there were concerns that legally binding guarantees offered to Ireland on social rights could cause political problems in Britain.

snip------

The conclusions, which have now been finalised, also outline that that EU leaders have agreed to offer the “necessary legal guarantees on the following three points:

as regards all member states, nothing in the Lisbon treaty makes any change of any kind to the extent or operation of the Union’s competence in relation to taxation;

the Lisbon treaty does not prejudice the security and defence policy of member states, including Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality, and the obligations of most other member states;

a guarantee that the provisions of the Irish constitution concerning the right to life, education and the family are wholly unaffected by the conferral of legal status on the EU charter of fundamental rights by the Lisbon treaty and by the justice and home affairs provision of the treaty.

So that's all right then. We just sold out on workers rights (again) at the behest of a British Labour Government. [End Update]

My late wife worked as a social worker for many years where one of the key concepts was that of "the presenting problem".  Clients would walk into her room referred with an alcohol problem when the real problem which emerged was that they had been sexually abused as a child by a close relative. Women presenting with "nervous" problems or depression were actually still being beaten by their partners.

An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has just committed to the European Council to ratify the Lisbon Treaty if Ireland's "presenting problems" of loss of Commissioner and concerns about neutrality, lack of information, fear of lack of influence, social/ethical issues, threat to worker's rights, and taxation issues are addressed in a credible manner.

Lisbon deal 'agreed in principle' despite objections - The Irish Times - Thu, Dec 11, 2008

However, Mr Brown queried the precise legal status of the guarantees being sought on issues like neutrality, abortion and taxation. He told the meeting of his concerns that the guarantees might lead to the Lisbon Treaty having to be brought back to the House of Commons.

Agreement on the Irish package was postponed so that talks could take place between representatives of the French presidency and the Irish and British Governments could take place.

President Nicolas Sarkozy had expressed the hope that the Irish guarantees could be ratified at the same time as the accession treaty for Croatia but this appeared to cause problems for the British.

Irish Government sources are hoping that agreement can be reached either tonight or tomorrow morning to enable the package to proceed.

Mr Cowen gave his fellow EU leaders a commitment that the Irish Government would ratify the Lisbon Treaty if the political package he was proposing to them in Brussels yesterday was accepted.

But the real problem now is not just the issues which Cowen has presented to the Council.  The real problem is Cowen himself, and by making the passing of a second referendum an issue of confidence in himself and his Government, he is handing the Irish people the only means they have in the short term of getting rid of him and his spectacularly unpopular Government.

Undoubtedly, the Government will take a hammering in the June EP and local Council elections - for which Libertas is reinventing itself as a pan-European party and promising to run candidates in all 27 member states.

The transformation of Libertas is interesting: it is now presenting itself as a pro-EU party criticising the EU only for not being transparent and democratic enough.

Libertas set to contest EU elections next year - The Irish Times - Thu, Dec 11, 2008

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels today, the group's chairman Declan Ganley said it would field candidates across the European Union in all member states on a "pro-European platform of democracy, accountability and transparency".

----snip

"If people want a strong and healthy Europe that is democratic and answerable to them, they should vote for a Libertas candidate," Mr Ganley told the press conference at the group's new Brussels headquarters.

----snip

According to draft conclusions, which EU leaders are expected to sign off on this evening, a second referendum to ratify the treaty will be held before October 31st.

"The Irish Government and the powerful elite in Brussels are showing utter contempt for the democratic decision of the Irish people in rejecting the Lisbon Treaty," Mr Ganley added.

"Not one sentence will change in a new version. Some non-legally binding texts will be added in an attempt to fool the people. They tried this with the French, they tried with the Dutch, they are trying with the Irish. It's time to put a stop to this bullying."

Libertas will attempt to transfer a generalised anger at the Irish political elite to an even more remote and ill-defined EU elite whilst at the same time not offending the Irish people's basically pro-EU attitude in general.

Libertas is on solid ground when it complains about the complexity and ambiguity of the Treaty  However these issues can be addressed if the accompanying declarations are shown to be legally binding.  The real issue is that the Irish people will not want to hand Cowen a victory.  

Perhaps a drubbing in the June elections will sate the popular anger and allow for a clearer focus on Ireland's position within the EU for the October Referendum.  However a well financed Libertas campaign will probably skilfully exploit the sense that Ireland as the underdog is also representing many disillusioned and disenfranchised democrats throughout Europe who have been denied a direct vote on the Treaty.

However in a peculiar way a Libertas victory in June might also facilitate a Referendum YES in October - as those concerned at the "democratic deficit" within the EU will now have their representation in the European Parliament - both for Ireland and for any other Member State which elects anti-Lisbon candidates. The true extent of popular anti-Lisbon sentiment throughout Europe can then be ascertained.

And in an even more ironic twist, the emergence of Libertas as a truly European Party (with no parliamentary base within Ireland) will also assist in the development of a European Demos as distinct from the national polities of its constituent members. All may not approve of its leadership, funding, or policies, but it may actually further what many pro-Europeans say they want to see happen - the emergence of a European public space and representative democracy not explicitly linked to national political parties.

Display:
My apologies for presenting three diaries within a few days.  It is not my intention to try to monopolise discourse here.  However this seems to be a genuinely important breaking news item and Colman doesn't seem to be around to present an Irish take on things.  I would be interested to hear whether the Council manoeuvrings around Lisbon are just a big turn off for everyone else, or whether the issues are of genuine interest for a wider European audience.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 07:33:30 PM EST
No need to apologize!

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 07:55:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't been around enough recently to develop the Schnittger ennui syndrome!  I keep looking around for another blog that will have me, but so far only ET has the required tolerance level... Although the people at Booman are always very nice.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 08:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I come here to read your diaries, no need to apologize.
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 03:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 06:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need to apologize!

These people created Jameson's.  Make them apologize whenever possible. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 10:24:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well if anyone complains tell them you wrote it for me. as I seem never to actually get round to eriting diaries.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 08:03:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, keep them coming. I find it hard enough to deal with the stupid that is Irish politics at the best of times, and right now I just don't give a shit.

Anyway, your viewpoint is much more mainstream than mine and probably gives a better impression of how things look to most people here.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow - that's the first time anyone has described me as mainstream - I've always only been a minor tributary...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:28:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No apologies needed as far as I'm concerned. This is the kind of background on Irish politics I mentioned before that I was looking for. Because domestic politics is a huge determinant of any nation's foreign policy, I'm constantly trying to get at exactly this kind of info for lots of countries. (I wish there were a wiki for this.)

Again, Thanks :)

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2008 at 01:31:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mixed reaction to Lisbon assurances - The Irish Times - Fri, Dec 12, 2008

Employers and unions have welcomed the deal to enable a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty to take place next year, however, anti-treaty parties have dismissed the agreement,.

----snip

However, Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald described the Lisbon deal as `an exercise in smoke and mirrors.'

Ms McDonald said the agreement to have legally binding guarantees meant nothing as they were not legally binding.

"Unless `protocols' are secured and ratified by all members states `guarantees' as described by the government are worthless," she said.

"The Irish people voted for a better deal and they rightfully expected the country's leader to make that better deal happen. Brian Cowen and Micheál Martin have failed to address the peoples concerns. They have failed to negotiate a better deal," Ms McDonald added.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 11:39:55 AM EST
President Nicolas Sarkozy had expressed the hope that the Irish guarantees could be ratified at the same time as the accession treaty for Croatia but this appeared to cause problems for the British.

This sounds interesting, and another thing President Sarkozy said:

Changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, aimed at pleasing Irish voters in view of a second referendum on the failed text, will be introduced with Croatia's EU accession treaty "in 2010 or 2011," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after an EU summit today (12 December).

A nice trick -

  1. avoiding the new ratification of Lisbon Treaty as such
  2. if Slovenia would still block Croatia it could be accused of blocking the European Treaty because of bilateral issue.

I´ll repost this here at my diary about Croatian/Slovenian border dispute on Adriatic if anyone wants to comment on that.
by drimalo on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:57:47 PM EST
Effectively the Irish Electorate is being asked to trust the European Council that they will in include legal guarantees in the Croatian Accession Treaty and that the Croatian accession Treaty will be passed.  This effectively means that the Irish will have to trust that the Slovenes won't block the Croatians.

I wonder what assurances Cowen got from the Slovenes that they won't block the Croatians, and whether these assurances can be made public during the Irish Lisbon referendum campaign.

Effectively the Lisbon Referendum in Ireland also becomes a Croatian accession Referendum in Ireland, as without the latter the legal guarantees promised for Lisbon won't come into effect.  

Perhaps we will even hold the two referenda side-by-side in Ireland as one is not complete without the other - and as the EU has always argued that Croatian accession can't happen without Lisbon. (I am not sure that a Croation accession Treaty would require an Irish Referendum, as it need not effect the Irish constitution).

This would then give the Slovenes a key role in determining the outcome of Lisbon in Ireland - if we trust them, and everyone else in Europe to agree to Croatian accession then our Lisbon guarantees achieve legal force.

But what if the Irish Parliament made ratification of Lisbon (even after a successful referendum) conditional on Croatian accession?  Can Croatian Accession be agreed by all EU members in time for an October 09 Irish Lisbon Referendum?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But what if the Irish Parliament made ratification of Lisbon (even after a successful referendum) conditional on Croatian accession?  Can Croatian Accession be agreed by all EU members in time for an October 09 Irish Lisbon Referendum?

The timetable presented by the Croatian newspapers is that according to the EU Commission the negotiations should be ended by the end of 2009. So that would mean the Croatian accession would be ratified during 2010.

It seems that the EU members play some strategic games. This could be very interesting year that lies before us.

by drimalo on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I could use your comment to start a discussion on Croatian forum tonight or tomorrow. - with your kind permission. May I?
by drimalo on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of Course - and a diary on the implications for Croatia would also be of interest in Ireland.

PS _ I doubt a Croatian accession Treaty would require a Referendum in Ireland - Parliamentary Ratification will probably be sufficient.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 05:24:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something just came to my mind, so I´ll ask here as I couldn´t find a specific answer...

What does the Lisbon Treaty say about new members? Does it require for a future member to be accepted by all members, or does it also have a double majority clause?

by drimalo on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 07:07:37 PM EST
As far as I can recall, it doesn't change the rules in that respect.  Accession requires unanimous agreement - which is why letting Cyprus in without resolving the Turkish/Greek conflict was perhaps not a very wise move.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 07:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It works both ways.

If disputes prevent admission to the EU, wouldn't this create an atmosphere in which disputes are encouraged if indeed the EU does not admit troubled regions?

If Turkey had known the EU would certainly not admit a separated Cyprus, what incentive would Turkey have to make peace in Cyprus?

It works both ways. The EU cannot ignore the rule of law in order to avoid messy disputes. Else, no one would ever join. Spain, Greece, most of the Eastern European countries, etc., have had border disputes. Ina ddition to Cyprus.

You can't hold Turkey's illegal actions against the Greek Cypriots. Greece made this plainly evident when they were ready to veto Slovenia, Czech Rep., Poland, etc. if Cyprus were not allowed to apply on their merits.

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 at 09:49:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It works both ways.

If disputes prevent admission to the EU, wouldn't this create an atmosphere in which disputes are encouraged if indeed the EU does not admit troubled regions?

If Turkey had known the EU would certainly not admit a separated Cyprus, what incentive would Turkey have to make peace in Cyprus?

It works both ways. The EU cannot ignore the rule of law in order to avoid messy disputes. Else, no one would ever join. Spain, Greece, most of the Eastern European countries, etc., have had border disputes. Ina ddition to Cyprus.

You can't hold Turkey's illegal actions against the Greek Cypriots. Greece made this plainly evident when they were ready to veto Slovenia, Czech Rep., Poland, etc. if Cyprus were not allowed to apply on their merits.

by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 at 09:49:21 AM EST


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