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Updated: The Consequences of Rejection

by Frank Schnittger Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 04:52:31 AM EST

Now also available in Orange and on Boo with an introduction as follows:

The people of Ireland are due to vote on the Lisbon Treaty for a second time on October 2. The first Referendum was defeated by 53-47% in June 2008 because there was widespread misinformation and lack of information about what is a very complex document (except for the Charter of Fundamental Rights which is a very well and simply written document)

In the meantime, the Irish Government has negotiated some protocols clarifying that the Treaty doesn't effect Ireland's right to make its own decisions on issues such as neutrality, abortion, military engagements and taxation policies and also that each member state would continue to have the right to nominate one member of the Commission.

As these issues were not part of the Treaty in the first place, it was possible to address these concerns by way of protocols specific to Ireland without changing the Treaty itself. This was a vital consideration because the other 26 member states of the EU didn't want to start their ratification processes from scratch all over again.

All changes to the EU which effect the rights of member states have to be agreed unanimously by all member states which imposes huge constraints on how the EU can respond to new challenges. The Lisbon Treaty is a very small step toward allowing more decisions effecting all EU Members to be made by a system of weighted majority voting in the European Council and giving some more powers to the EU and national Parliaments.

Whilst nationalists argue that this is undemocratic, it is actually creating a greater degree of pan-European democracy so that one small member state cannot block changes needed by all 27, thus holding the other member states to ransom. The European Council is in some ways analogous to the US Senate with one member (the Head of Government) per member state. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to get changes through the US Senate if EVERY Senator had a veto rather than the 41 now required to block Cloture?

However the NO campaigners continue to argue that Ireland is being "bullied" into voting on the same Treaty a second time by a European elite bent on imposing their undemocratic will on Ireland. Hence my letter to the editors of the major Irish papers below the fold...

A central argument of the no campaigners appears to be that the Lisbon Treaty doesn't solve all ills and that we can always return to the "business as usual" status quo if the Treaty is rejected a second time.  

Some, like Sinn Fein, hint that they would go back to the drawing board and draft up a better Treaty without explaining why the 26 other member states should want to accept their leadership and agree to their proposals.

Undoubtedly the Lisbon Treaty doesn't solve every problem on the planet and further Treaties may well be needed in the future to meet the challenges of an ever changing world.  But the status quo "business as usual" approach really isn't an option for going forward either.  

The "European Project" has been stagnant and failing for some time now - ever since the ill-advised expansion of the EU to 27 members without streamlining its decision making processes first.  

The EU was hopelessly divided on the Iraq war, reverted to narrow nationalistic responses to the financial crises and is now struggling to come up with coherent policies to tackle the issues of peak oil, climate change, financial regulation and globalisation.

If the EU can't come up with agreed approaches to these problems, the bigger member states will revert to doing their own thing and some of the smaller states will become little more than satellites of the bigger European states or the USA.  

The defining feature of the EU is that it gives smaller members states like Ireland a hugely disproportionate representation on the Commission, the European Council, and in the European Parliament, and if we allow the EU to stagnate and wither away Ireland will revert to being a very small island in a very big world.

The No campaigners are essentially the spiritual heirs to De Valera and the isolationist policies of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's which may have been understandable in the context of world war, but which are inexcusable and unsustainable now.  

Ireland has since achieved a very proud record of punching above its weight at the UN and the EU and we must not lose our self confidence in world affairs at this crucial point in global history.

We should be asking ourselves how we can make a greater contribution to world peace and prosperity through a revitalising influence in the EU and UN and not seek to halt their development into more coherent and cohesive bodies.

The Lisbon Treaty is a small step towards streamlining the decision making processes of an ever more complex EU in order to help it act more decisively in response to the crises of the current age.  Requiring unanimity amongst all 27 members before major decisions can be taken is simply a recipe for paralysis.  

The increased movement towards weighted majority voting on the Council, and the increased powers given in the Treaty to National and European Parliaments and directly to European Citizens by way of petition are a vital step in enabling greater pan-European democracy.

Although small majorities in France and Holland rejected the original Constitutional Treaty (for largely domestic political reasons) their numbers were swamped by much larger yes majorities in Spain and Luxembourg.  

The peoples of Europe have now spoken on the Lisbon Treaty through their elected parliaments and governments as required by their own Constitutional arrangements - which are different from ours - and it is not for us to tell - for example the French - how to govern themselves within the EU.

Sarkozy was elected on the promise of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, and if that is good enough for the French electorate, it should be good enough for us to accept as a valid French decision too.

If we reject the Treaty again the European Project will simply stagnate further and ultimately wither and die to be replaced by a resurgent nationalism as exemplified by the British Conservative, UKIP, and British National Parties, by Le Pen in France, and yes, by Sinn Fein in Ireland.

It will be like going back to the competing nationalisms of 1930's pre-war Europe.  

Is that what we really want?

A long letter, submitted to the Irish Times and Independent, without much expectation of it being published in whole or part.  However at least I got it off my chest!

My son is getting married this week, so my apologies in advance if I am slow to join in any discussion which may ensue!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 11:31:03 AM EST

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 11:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many Thanks!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 11:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well and passionately argued, Frank.  If they don't publish this letter, it will say more about the paper than the letter.  A grad school friend of mine, Finnerty by surname, was the son of a New York Lawyer who was active in the politics of the Irish diaspora.  Mike was interested in math, among other things and spoke of being introduced to Eamon De Valera by his father.  He and De Valera spoke mostly of mathematics, as he recounted it.  Mike has turned out rather conservative and religious in his later years.  Seeing De Valera's political history via Wiki I now better understand.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 11:07:08 PM EST
Many thanks.  Not published today either.  If it's not published tomorrow then it won't be - although the Saturday edition is the most widely read and therefor influential.  it really makes too many points to be a likely candidate for publication as a letter.  However I haven't yet cracked the code as to how to get longer pieces published as op-ed pieces.  You have to be somebody to get op ed pieces published.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However I haven't yet cracked the code as to how to get longer pieces published as op-ed pieces.  You have to be somebody to get op ed pieces published.

In other words, you have cracked the code.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 04:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So if you are not somebody the options are to pretend that your are somebody or get somebody who are somebody to sign it with you. Preferably a bunch.

If there is an op ed that is signed by a number of persons, I always assume it is the person with the least well-known name and least fancy title that actually wrote the op ed in the first place, if he or she gets to sign at all.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about Delcan Ganley and Libertas?  AIRC, Libertas was shutting down.  If not, what effect will they have?  If so, who, if any, will play the role they played?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 10:25:00 AM EST
There was talk of Ganley trying to make a comeback and of an alledgedly independent petition/campaign to ask him to come back, but so far I have seen nothing in the MSM about this.

It's "business as usual" for all the other No campaign groups with the added benefit of being able to claim that Ireland is being bullied into voting again on the same Treaty by an arrogant Irish/European elite determined to impose their will on the poor oppressed Irish.

So far, all the NO arguments I have seen have focused on the Nationalist/Religious argument about Europe trying to tell us what to do on abortion/taxation/neutrality etc. and on the fact that the proposed protocols to the Treaty and other decisions of the Council are little more than political promises at this stage.

The Euro-sceptic, neo-liberal anti  regulation argument advanced by Libertas has taken a back seat during the current depression as it is so obvious that that model has failed Ireland rather badly in the last few years.  Its wonderful how the NO arguments can change to suit the occassion with Sinn Fein now arguing that they have been pro-EU all along...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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