Whither the European Union: Where now after Ireland votes down the Lisbon Treaty.

Some of the media’s analysis as to what lay behind Irelands no vote against the Lisbon Treaty was pretty thin gruel. Even pro EU progressives seem to have completely lost the plot, one prominent commentator claimed those devious Shinners and their colleagues in the No campaign acted in the most clever way when they advised voters, “If you have not read or understood the treaty it would be safer to vote ‘No’.

Why such advise should be regarded a clever, code for underhanded I fear, is beyond me as it is the standard advice solicitors give their clients, “if you have failed to understand a document or are yet to read it, on no account put your moniker upon it.”

Another commentator compared the No vote as the equivalent of blowing up a train as it was about to come into the station, when it was nothing of the sort. The EU has chugged along without the Lisbon Treat for decades and there is absolutely no reason why it should not carry on doing so, although it might help if the European political elite cease acting like arrogant lemmings who appear determined to bring the whole house down.

As to what comes next, well sadly if history is anything to go by, we have a good idea what the Commission will do, they will attempt to get the Treaty through by sleight of hand. This was sign-posted when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on hearing the Irish Referendum had been lost, immediately went into Daily Mail speak and starting prattling about having to shelve plans to implement more effective policies on climate change, energy, security, immigration, justice and the fight against crime. Thus having failed to get the treaty through by bureaucratic means alone, due to those troublesome Celts on the fringes of the EU, Barroso and his unelected Gauleiter’s are attempting to brow beat it through by putting on the frighteners,

Not one of the Prime Ministers of the EU’s twenty-seven nation States have stepped up to the plate and declared enough! the Lisbon Treaty is dead. Perhaps they have conveniently forgotten that this is due to the Treaty having failed the criteria they themselves set, which in itself typifies the ever increasing gap between Europe’s political elite and those they govern.

What the people of the Union want is an end to the likes of the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty, which in reality were little more than political and economic wish-lists from the European elite. The EU, with 27 member states has reached the stage when its people are no longer prepared to give carte-blanche to its political leaders without a clear and precise system of democratic accountability in place.

The European Commission are making decisions which impact upon the lives of approximately 495.5 million people, yet we have no say in appointing these people nor do with have the means to recall them if they cock up or over step their remit. Let alone put an arm-lock on how the Commission spends our hard eared taxes. [The EU audit has not been signed off for the last thirteen years] *

This democratic deficit is at the heart of peoples discontent with the EU, for example many people feel that they should have had a say when the EU was enlarged from 15 to 25 and then 27 nation States. If one considers both the economic and social consequences of this enlargement it is difficult to argue against this point of view.

Never the less in my judgement despite an underlining feeling of discontent with the EU, not only do a majority of its population still support the Union, but most accept, if the democratic deficit can be overcome, it will move in an evolutionary manner to become the United States of Europe.

Thus the failure of Europe’s politicians to sort out the European Unions democratic deficit is by far the greatest issue of the day, for unless this deficit is corrected the Union will be unable to move forward and effectively tackle the problems that Europe undoubtedly faces, such as climate change, the need to put people before profit, how to build a social Europe and its relationships with the USA and the emerging super powers in the far east, plus countless other secondary issues.

What is needed is a treaty/constitution that centers on democratic accountability, whether the EU supports neo liberal economics or privatization of public services will be up to the politicians whom the electorate of the EU place in power. The current unelected Commission have no mandate to set in stone the future direction of the EU’s economic and social policies, as they attempted to do with the Lisbon Treaty; and when they did the Irish electorate, like the French and Dutch before them, sensed they were over stepping their remit, hence their rejection of the Lisbon Treaty

Perhaps if the current generation of EU politicians understood their job is to serve the people, not the best interest of powerful economic forces, then they just might, by way of the ballot box, get a democratic constitution passed into law. If they fail to recognize this fact and carry on as they are, the people of Europe will rightly or wrongly decide their best interest is served by the nation state.

* http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7092102.stm



Filed under EU/Politics/Trade Unions/unacceptable face of capitalis

6 responses to “Whither the European Union: Where now after Ireland votes down the Lisbon Treaty.

  1. a very public sociologist

    Indeed – there’s no rhyme nor reason why neoliberalism should be enshrined in a constitutional treaty.

    Btw Mick, will you be coming along to the CNWP conf a week on Sunday? If so I’ll keep an eye out for you 🙂

  2. John

    Mick – I find it strange how selective people are in citing arguements about democracy in the European Union. I read constantly that “whenever the people have been asked to approve the Constitutional Treaty or the ammended Lisbon Treaty in the French, Dutch and Irish referendums they have voted “NO.” But why does nobody commend the people of Spain and Luxembourg who voted “Yes” in THEIR referendums. In fact if you take the votes in the five referendums together you will see that 47 million people have voted “Yes” and 42 million people have voted “No.” Strange how the nationalists disregard evidence which does not suit their case.
    John Palmer

  3. Mick Hall


    Ouch, you make a fair point, but I suppose people highlight the no votes because those who drew up the treaty/constitution placed within them a clause that stipulated there implementation will be on an all or nothing basis.

    Yet when they are unable to achieve a unanimous yes vote, they basically tell the electorates, well we did not really mean that and they look for another way to get the treaty through.

    I would be interested in your view as to why the EU treaty/constitution has to be so difficult to understand. The US constitution is not and many feel it is the best of its type, it is pretty simple and is based on the RIGHTS OF THE CITIZEN.

    Why do the EU constitution/ treaties need to be so wide and all encompassing; and take on board the type of economy the EU will have etc. What gives unelected officials or delegates from the member states the right to set in stone the type of economy future generations might choose. That surly is for their elected representatives, if the EU lasts that long or is not some sort of dictatorship by then.

    It is this duplicity and determination to put the cart before the horse that people hate, it is no accident that this is just the way some of the same people have behaved in Iraq, when it came to a new constitution and contracts for oil.

    Why can we not have a very simple constitution which guarantees our rights, freedoms and points out our responsibilities?

    This treaty fell in Ireland because the political establishment were unable to make a sound argument for it, for they new were they to do so the no vote would have been even larger.

    Unlike elsewhere in Europe Irish politicians understand their grass roots better than most and they new if they opened up a proper debate it would be a can of worms. not one of them said, this part of the treaty will benefit Dublin’s working class, this the farmers, this the middle class. it was all we must vote yes if we are to move forward, wishey washey stuff.

  4. John

    Mick – Surely there is something undemocratic about a system where one state (whether exercising its veto through an elected Parliament or by referendum) can block all the other 26 proceeding with a treaty? The Lisbon Treaty IS complex – not least because it replaced the simpler Constitutional Treaty for what are a series of legal amendments to earlier treaties. The Irish political establishment did make a comlet hamus of the “Yes” campaign.
    However the “no” side was made up of violently contradictory elements (Catholic far right, the neo-liberal “lower corporate taxes” business right (Ganley and Libertas) and a populist left ranging from Sinn Fein to sections of the left. Tnhere is NOTHING in the Lisbon Treaty which adds anything to what earlier treaties sday about the economic system. But the treaty does include a Charter of Rights which the employers are bitterly opposed to lest it be used by worjkers to secure better stanards and reduce their “competitiveness.” SOME ofg the “No” wanted stronger EU action against climate change but they have thrown out a treaty which scrapped the national veto against a majority which wants stronger climate change measures. And so it goes on… The basic fact is that the right is divided – with most of them wanting a weaker Europe to drive home their interests. But the left has a vested interest in a much stronger political system at a European level. Indeed tomorrow we will urgently need it at a global level. Have comrades no understood that not only you cannot have socialism in one country – you also today cannot have a social democratic style capitalism in one country. The treaty also throws out arrangements for ELECTING the Commisison President! Yet the bleat on about “unelected bureaucrats. Breathtaking,

    John Palmer

  5. Mick Hall


    Still not sure about going to the CNWP yet, my heart says yes but my head fears it will be more of the same. I just do not see a new Left Party getting off the ground here unless a sizable section of the Labour left is part of its formation. I say this not because I have any illusions in the LP left, although some are decent comrades. But because I believe it will take some input from the LP leftist before a section of the working classes will gain enough confidence in it to vote for any new Left Party.

    Also they would act as a balancing act to the Trots, indeed I feel that the reason your own organization is one of the more successful Trotskyist groups is because with their past work in the Labour Party, they came to understand working class people as we are, not as an academic exercise, if you get my drift.


  6. Mick Hall


    I fear at this stage we are going to have to disagree on this, you say that the no campaign were a bunch of violently contradictory elements, maybe, but if the left element had joined the yes campaign they would have been in even more contradictory company, would they not, such is EU politics I suppose.

    You write the Lisbon treaty is complex, well in my view it should not be. These days our life experiences tell us when powerful forces tie us up with red tape, whether they be insurance companies, banks or governments, it is rarely, if ever to our advantage. I say again the US constitution is pretty short and simply, if the EU wishes to get a constitution through their electorates, which I doubt they have the balls to do, then any EU constitution should be short etc etc. If there is a need to over-ride previous agreements that can be done simply.

    As to a single State holding back 26 states, well it was not the Irish electorate who placed such a clause in the Lisbon Treaty, but those who drew it up and approved it, so if you wish to blame anyone surly you should blame Giscard D’Estaing and the heads of state who rubber stamped the treaty. Could it be that they did this to paint the thing with a democratic accountability glass, knowing full well that few, if any EU nations would be putting the treaty before their electorates via a referendum. The word was the individual nations would get the Treaty through on a prime ministers nod and so it proved, ah those troublesome Celts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s