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Welcome to the Boards.ie Lisbon Treaty Debate

  • #2
    Closed Accounts Posts: 8,848 ✭✭✭ Dav


    Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Boards.ie Lisbon Treaty debate. On October 2nd, Ireland goes to the polls to decide Yes or No and so we thought we'd try and help you decide how to vote if you're still not sure by having a debate on the matter.

    I thought it'd be a good idea to take a moment to explain how exactly the debate works:
    The team members can post up to 5 times a day here in the Logos Forum. The Public can view these threads and can have a discussion about the debate in the Pathos forum. The Judges will be busy in the Ethos forum deciding on things - this is private.

    The debate will end at 23:59 on Thursday and the Judges will deliberate and hopefully have a decision by lunch time on Friday so it'll be ahead of any of the early results and indicator polls in the media. This will also give you time to weigh up the result of the debate before you cast your own vote should you wish.

    The 2 teams are:

    YES:
    Scofflaw, nesf, Blitzkrieg, sink

    NO:
    FutureTaoiseach, RandomName2, Sparks43, smegmar

    So good luck to everyone involved - I'm sure we all hope that the debate will be interesting and informative


Comments

  • #2


    The Lisbon Treaty undermines Irish sovereignty by expanding Qualified Majority Voting to 50 areas. To form a blocking-minority under the new model of QMV/ordinary legislative procedure, requires the agreement of 4 states including over 35% of the EU's population. This is the first time that population has itself become a basis for voting-strength on the Council of Ministers. In net terms, the Lisbon Treaty deepens the democratic-deficit in the EU, while pretending to address it. The pretence is to be found in the supposed 'powers' for national parliaments, which in truth amount to little more than an ability of object, as well as in the Citizens' Initiative, which again is non-binding in the sense that the EU cannot be forced to legislate as requested by the Initiative. Irish democracy is also undermined by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which cannot be changed by the Irish people and state on their own if Lisbon comes into force. This contrasts with our ability to amend the Irish Constitution via referenda in this State. All EU law, since 1973, overrides Irish law and the Irish Constitution. That fact is often used as a retort to those of us on the no side who refer to the overriding power confered on EU law and the Treaties contained in Paragraph 6 of the referendum legislation (28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009). Of course - Article 29.4.10 of the Irish Constitution already states that EU law supersedes national law. But the effective meaning of such wording changes with each new EU Constitutional Treaty that expands the competences of the EU and entrusts power in the hands of EU institutions, because in practice, more areas of the Irish Constitution/law face the risk of being overridden by EU laws whose frequency in certain policy-areas will increase as more national-vetoes are abolished in favour of Qualified Majority Voting. Paragraph 6 of the referendum wording says the following:
    No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State, before, on or after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, that are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union referred to in subsection 5° of this section or of the European Atomic Energy Community, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by—
    i the said European Union or the European Atomic Energy Community, or by institutions thereof,
    ii the European Communities or European Union existing immediately before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, or by institutions thereof, or
    iii bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State.

    I would also refer to Paragraph 7(iii) of the referendum-wording in order to make an important point. The "Yes" campaign has said that Ireland has an optout on common policies on Justice and Home Affairs. They say we have Protocol 21 on the Position of the UK and Ireland with respect to the European Area of Justice and Freedom. What they have not been so keen to point out is that Paragraph 7 of the referendum-wording allows the Oireachtas to abolish that optout without a referendum. There is something ironic about being asked to vote for something on the basis of an optout (which largely corresponds to our existing JHA optouts under the Amsterdam Treaty) while also being asked to vote to empower the Oireacthas/Government to abolish it:
    The State may exercise the options or discretions—
    i to which Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union relating to enhanced cooperation applies,
    ii under Protocol No. 19 on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the European Union annexed to that treaty and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly known as the Treaty establishing the European Community), and
    iii under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, so annexed, including the option that the said Protocol No. 21 shall, in whole or in part, cease to apply to the State, but any such exercise shall be subject to the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas.
    Fine Gael deputy spokesperson for European affairs, Lucinda Creighton, has called (01 April 2009) for the optout-Protocol to be abolished. Dermot Ahern, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced a "review" of the optout within 3 years. If it is not the intention of the Government to abolish the optout, then why have they included this provision in Paragraph 7 to allow them to do so? This is not merely the power to optin on some areas. It extends to the right to abolish the very right to optout on Justice and Home Affairs itself. This would mean that Ireland would be bound by EU law on sensitive areas such as asylum and immigration, criminal penalties, powers of Europol (the EU-police body), Eurojust etc. that would be decided by QMV. Relevant quotes from politicians on this matter are below:
    The Reform Treaty will also give full legal status to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Government has definitively resolved not to associate ourselves with a British Protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We see the Charter as an important statement of the Union’s values and are completely committed to it...We intend, in particular, to opt into future police cooperation measures. The aim is to retain our strong commitment to EU cooperation while giving ourselves options whenever our particular legal traditions may be called into question in an EU context. This in no way undermines our determination to press for effective EU action against serious cross border crime.
    Whenever the representatives of the Irish people are reduced to a small minority in terms of having a say in EU legislation that will bind future governments and the Irish people in this country on sensitive matters of national sovereignty such as Justice and Home Affairs, I believe that democracy is being undermined. The European Commission is not elected by the European or national electorates. It is true that it has always been thus. But again, as with the point on the supremacy of EU law since 1973, the context changes with each Treaty. When we abolish national vetoes in each constitutional treaty, we are making it easier for the EU to push its legislation through the Council of Ministers, as the consent of all member states governments is no longer required. I regard this as a transfer of power to unelected bureaucrats over our lives, and a deepening of the democratic-deficit.

    I also want to refer to the role of national parliaments in the Lisbon Treaty. This is governed by the Protocol on the application of the principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality. It does not provide national parliaments - individually or as groups - with an actual veto or even an amending power over draft EU legislation. This is what will happen. Each national-parliament is given 2 votes (in bicameral parliaments, each chamber will have 1 of those votes). If one-third of those votes (25% in the case of aspects of Justice and Home Affairs) object to EU legislation because they believe it does not observe the principle of subsidiarity (i.e. that the EU should only act where necessary and leave other issues to the member states), then the Commission "may" review the draft legislation - but is not obliged to review it. If a majority of the votes allocated to national-parliaments make an objection to the draft-legislation, then the Commission "must" review the legislation. But again, the objection cannot force the Commission to withdraw it. It can proceed, withdraw or amend the proposal. Subsequently, the Council (by a majority of 55% of its members) or the European Parliament (by a majority of its members) can object to the legislation, at which point the draft legislation must be withdrawn. But remember this: if 55% of member state governments were opposed to proposed EU legislation, then it would stand no chance whatsoever of coming into law anyway. So in reality, national-parliaments are given no powers to block/amend draft EU legislation. None.

    Another part of my case that the Lisbon Treaty undermines democracy in Europe and Ireland pertains to the Charter of Fundamental Rights - which is my main objection to this Treaty. As stated earlier, EU law supersedes national law - and always has since 1973. That means that by enshrining the Charter into EU law under Article 6 TEU, that in effect, the Charter will override the Irish Constitution. Article 6 states that the Charter will have "the same legal value as the Treaties". Who, in the final analysis, interprets the Treaties? The European Court of Justice. As such, I believe that a yes vote to Lisbon would effectively transform the ECJ into a Supreme Court on matters of human rights.
    The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
    The pro-Lisbon side has sought to assuage such concerns by reference to Article 51 of the Charter, which claims that the rights in the Charter will only apply to the EU institutions or national governments when they are 'implementing European law'. I am unpersuaded by this argument because by enshrining the Charter in European law, with "the same legal value as the Treaties", you are effectively making the Charter itself a body of EU law. The Treaties are the highest legal-texts of the EU. If the Charter, as Article 6 TEU claims, will have "the same legal value as the Treaties", then, taken together with the supremacy of EU law under the Irish Constitution (restated in Paragraph 6 of the referendum wording as linked to earlier), then it follows from that, in my opinion, that the Charter will itself override the Irish Constitution and Irish law.

    I am especially concerned about the potential for the Charter to exacerbate the race to the bottom in pay and conditions. Would the ECJ regard the question of employment rights for asylum-seekers as a matter of labour law or a matter of asylum-law? Article 15(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states:
    Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen or accepted occupation.
    At present, Ireland has a ban on asylum-seekers working. I have very serious concerns that this provision will lead to a challenge in the ECJ to Ireland's ban on work for asylum-seekers. Given that the UK has an optout Protocol from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the implications for the Irish labour market of allowing them to work are obvious, in terms of an influx of cheap-labour at the worst possible time for the Irish economy and unemployed. Pro-Lisbon groups have claimed that the Charter will strengthen workers-rights. I do not share that analysis, especially based on controversial ECJ rulings that have referred to the Charter when ruling in a manner that undermines workers' rights. In particular, I refer to the Viking Judgement (analysis here), where the ECJ, referring to the Charter stated that the right to collective bargaining can be restricted:
    Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests,including strike action.
    Article's 18 and 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights appear to grant the ECJ jurisdiction over asylum and immigration law. The Government argues we have the Justice and Home Affairs optout. But as demonstrated earlier in reference to Paragraph 7 of the referendum-wording, a text of the proposed Irish Constitutional amendment would give the Government/Oireachtas the power to abolish it without a referendum. Lucinda Creighton has openly called (as quoted above) for the abolition of the optout. Dermot Ahern announced a review of it within 3 years. So it is reasonable to expect that in time, these provisions of the Charter will result in asylum-related challenges to Irish law and deportations in the ECJ:
    The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community.
    1. Collective expulsions are prohibited.

    2. No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


  • #2


    Ladies and Gentlemen.

    Firstly I'd like to thank Futuretaoiseach for starting the debat with such an impressive opening and I hope it is a sign of further reasoned debates.

    I shall not be as extensive in my response as for the moment.


    I'd like to address your concern with the charter of fundemental rights firstly, while you describe an extensive possibility of how the charter of fundemental rights could be used as a possible attack on the irish constitutional law.

    You refer to article 51 as a poor deterrent of this possibility because the charter of fundemental rights is given the same legal powers as the treaties and the treaties hold supremacy over Irish law.

    The failing of this argument is simple.

    I present firstly Article 6 of the Treaty of the European Union as proposed under Lisbon:
    Article 6
    (ex Article 6 TEU)
    1. The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.

    The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties. The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.

    2. The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union's competences as defined in the Treaties.

    3. Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union's law.

    I draw your attention to the second subparagraph of paragraph 1 (highlighted) This specifies that while the charter has the same legal value as the treaties it shall be interpeted by the process laid out in title 7 of the charter. This is crucial. It defines title 7 as source of how the charter will affect EU law and national law.

    And as you know it.

    Article 51, the article that was dismissed because the charter is given legal value. Is the first article of title 7.
    TITLE VII
    GENERAL PROVISIONS
    Article 51
    Scope
    1. The provisions of this Charter are addressed to the institutions and bodies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. They shall therefore respect the rights, observe the principles and promote the application thereof in accordance with their respective powers.

    2. This Charter does not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union, or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties.

    The treaty specifies that this article and articles 52-54 are the defining articles on how the charter should be interpeted. THe very same article you state will allow the EU to ignore this specifies quite clearly that all charter rulings must abide by this article.

    Article 52
    Scope of guaranteed rights
    1. Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be
    provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of
    proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of
    general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
    2. Rights recognised by this Charter which are based on the Community Treaties or the Treaty on
    European Union shall be exercised under the conditions and within the limits defined by those Treaties.
    3. In so far as this Charter contains rights which correspond to rights guaranteed by the Convention
    for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights
    shall be the same as those laid down by the said Convention. This provision shall not prevent Union law
    providing more extensive protection.

    Article 53
    Level of protection
    Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and
    fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international
    law and by international agreements to which the Union, the Community or all the Member
    States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
    Freedoms, and by the Member States' constitutions.

    Article 54
    Prohibition of abuse of rights
    Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform
    any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their
    limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.

    These are the rules laid out and specified by Lisbon that the charter must abide by. This makes the entire issue expressed above with the charter of fundemental rights defunct.


    Secondly and briefly. The QMV system described requiring 4 member states and 35% of the population is inaccurate. Lisbon does not specify any population requirement with the issue of QMV. Article 16 of the treaty of the european union only specifies one thing on the blocking minority
    A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority
    shall be deemed attained.

    In article 238(3) of the treaty of the functioning of the european union, the figure 35% is stated but it is stated for QMV when not all member states are present and it is instead of the 4 country minimum.
    3. As from 1 November 2014 and subject to the provisions laid down in the Protocol on
    transitional provisions, in cases where, under the Treaties, not all the members of the Council
    participate in voting, a qualified majority shall be defined as follows:

    (a) A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council representing
    the participating Member States, comprising at least 65 % of the population of these States.
    A blocking minority must include at least the minimum number of Council members representing
    more than 35 % of the population of the participating Member States, plus one member,
    failing
    which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained;

    It is 35% of the members taking part in the vote +1, it is never specified in Lisbon that there is a population requirement in the blocking minority.


  • #2


    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Members of the opposition,

    Chair, and judges,

    We are gathered here today to discuss the Treaty of Lisbon.

    For the moment I'll make an embarrassingly short point compared to the two excellent preceding opening statements.

    There is a question fundamental to the Lisbon Treaty:

    Why should the EU be granted more legislative competencies, greater efficiencies and less barriers specifically in the generation of laws which have nothing to do with international trade?

    Unless we are going to get into the ballpark of single-statehood (ever closer union :rolleyes:) which is not the same league, not even the same god-damn sport as that which we signed up to: that which was designed to prevent war between member states and dismantle trade barriers. That which was designed not to interfere in the legislative processes of individual member states. That which was never supposed to obtain the mantle of statehood.

    Not that Lisbon creates a single state. But it does make it one step closer to reality.

    And it does little else.

    The design of economic partnership was meant to be the sole and immutable function of the ECSC/EEC/EC; yet now it seems imperative for Ireland to be subject to a general consensus on a plethora of fields which have been hitherto decided solely within the Dail and Seanad; for within the EU, even though since Maastricht the powers of the EU have theoretically been wide-reaching, much of its potential legislative strength has been hampered due to an abundance of red-tape and vetoes.

    We have pooled our individual sovereignty to create a single state, but now that single state is choosing to pool the sovereignty which we have granted it with like-minded governments, in order to aggrandize the supranational structure of the EU. And it is this, and this alone, upon which Lisbon is predicated.

    And perhaps you are in favour of eventually creating a single European state. But a state in which those who generate the laws of the sate are not elected by the citizens of Europe?


  • #2


    To the Judges , The members of the yes camp, and the public viewing the Boards.ie Lisbon debate many greetings

    I Sparks43 hereby commence the debate from apoint of fisheries and the damage the E.U has already done to our industry

    I have been a angler all my life in competition and for recreation and the destruction of our waters over the 25 years I have experienced is shocking


    Lisbon represents the final nail in the coffin for coastal communities and the
    populations that depend on our indigenous fishing industry. Control of national
    fisheries was handed over to Brussels on our accession to the EEC in 1973 in
    exchange for what was believed to be a good deal for farming within the CAP.
    The division of quotas has led to a situation where Ireland’s fishing waters
    account for around 12% of the EU fishery but Irish fishermen are currently
    allowed only around 4% of the EU quota.
    The Common Fisheries Policy is one of the worst examples of a centralised EU
    policy. It is backward-looking, inflexible and completely detrimental to the
    survival, let alone, the development of fishing communities of Ireland.






    I shall further my debate on this matter with statistics on the last 36 years and would encourage a member of the yes camp to engage in discussion on this

    Thank you all for reading
    Sparks43


  • #2


    Blitzkrieg wrote:
    Article 51, the article that was dismissed because the charter is given legal value. Is the first article of title 7.
    TITLE VII
    GENERAL PROVISIONS
    Article 51
    Scope
    1. The provisions of this Charter are addressed to the institutions and bodies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. They shall therefore respect the rights, observe the principles and promote the application thereof in accordance with their respective powers.

    2. This Charter does not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union, or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties.
    That does not reassure me. The ECJ is going to be interpreting the Charter including Article 51 as it sees fit. Look at it this way. The ECJ already has the power to interpret the Treaties. Article 6 TEU states that the Charter shall have "the same legal value as the Treaties". So in interpreting the Charter according to its own whims, the ECJ would take the view that it is fully compliant with Article 51.
    Article 52
    Scope of guaranteed rights
    1. Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be
    provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of
    proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of
    general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
    And of course, it will be for the ECJ to determine whether such limitations are "necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others".
    2. Rights recognised by this Charter which are based on the Community Treaties or the Treaty on
    European Union shall be exercised under the conditions and within the limits defined by those Treaties.
    3. In so far as this Charter contains rights which correspond to rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights shall be the same as those laid down by the said Convention. This provision shall not prevent Union law providing more extensive protection
    Whilst I am aware that under the Charter, the meaning of rights corresponding to rights in the ECHR are to be interpreted in accordance with the meaning of same, I have observed that there are also rights in the Charter, most notably relevant to the subject matter I complained about in the Charter on asylum and immigration and the right to work for asylum-seekers, that do not strictly correspond to rights contained in the ECHR. For example, there is no explicit right to asylum in the ECHR. Nor is there an explicit right to work in the ECHR. So the ECJ has a relatively free hand in interpreting Article 15(1) and Articles 18/19 of the Charter, subject to the Irish optout on Justice and Home Affairs. But once again I must come back to two questions. Firstly, in the eyes of the ECJ and in the context of asylum, will Article 15(1)'s reference to how "'everyone has the right to work" be regarded by the ECJ as pertinant to asylum (and therefore to our optout), or as pertinant to labour law (and therefore not subject to the optout Protocol 21)? I am uneasy on this issue and unprepared to give the ECJ the benefit of the doubt. I am also convinced that Paragraph 7(iii) of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill, part of the wording of the amendment we are being asked to insert into our Constitution, will be used to abolish the optout Protocol itself. Otherwise why include in Paragraph 7 a specific power for the Government and Oireachtas to abolish it in its entirety? Lucinda Creighton, the FG Deputy Spokesperson for European Affairs, called for the abolition of the Protocol on her blog on 01 April 2009:
    I urge the Taoiseach to reconsider the matter of justice and home affairs. This is too important for Ireland to opt out of and we must acknowledge that a mistake was made with that Cabinet decision. I hope it will be reconsidered in the context of the forthcoming Lisbon treaty referendum.
    Then Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern announced a review of the optout within threee years.
    As Justice and Home Affairs is a relatively new area of EU activity, we have decided to review our participation in this particular opt out after three years. This will give us a chance to see how European policy evolves under the new Treaty arrangements and to make a fuller assessment of the potential risks to aspects of our common law system.

    It has been said by some that we are taking this line purely because Britain is doing so. This is certainly not the case. Even in the justice area where we do have quite a lot in common, our approach to the Reform Treaty is markedly different from Britain’s. We have no general reticence about enhanced EU efforts in the justice area. For example, the British opt-out covers measures concerning the freezing of terrorist assets - ours does not. We are fully and irrevocably opting-in on that issue. Britain is unwilling to commit itself fully to giving the European Court of Justice a role in JHA matters. We have no such reservations. We will also be differentiating ourselves by making a strong political statement underlining our desire to participate whenever we possibly can.
    Blitzkrieg wrote:
    3. As from 1 November 2014 and subject to the provisions laid down in the Protocol on
    transitional provisions, in cases where, under the Treaties, not all the members of the Council
    participate in voting, a qualified majority shall be defined as follows:

    (a) A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council representing
    the participating Member States, comprising at least 65 % of the population of these States.
    A blocking minority must include at least the minimum number of Council members representing
    more than 35 % of the population of the participating Member States, plus one member,
    failing
    which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained;
    The fact remains that under Article 16 TEU as amended by Lisbon:
    1. The Council shall, jointly with the European Parliament, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall carry out policy-making and coordinating functions as laid down in the Treaties.
    2. The Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level, who may commit the government of the Member State in question and cast its vote.
    3. The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise.
    4. As from 1 November 2014, a qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65 % of the population of the Union.
    A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.
    The other arrangements governing the qualified majority are laid down in Article 238(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
    5. The transitional provisions relating to the definition of the qualified majority which shall be applicable until 31 October 2014 and those which shall be applicable from 1 November 2014 to 31 March 2017 are laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions.
    So the reality remains that where all member states are voting, 4 states including over 35% of the EU's population will be empowered to block all measures disagreeable to them. In practice, this means that 4 Big States, by virtue of collectively meeting the population-threshold i.e. over 35% of the EU's population and the threshold of 4 countries will have a blocking minority. Now you are pointing out that where not all member states are participating, that the 35% blocking-minority refers only to the population of the participating member states. Even so, I fail to see how that reconfiguration improves matters for small member states. Where all the member states of the EU are participating, Ireland has 0.9% of the EU's population. I assume the point you are making is that where a country decides not to participate, the overall population of the participating member states falls, and therefore the Irish percentage of the population in the context of calculating the 35% blocking minority increases. That is true.

    But impact on the Irish population-weight would be very marginal. It is uncommon for a large number of member states - notably large member states - to abstain in Council votes. Supposing the UK were to abstain. They have 12.3% of the EU's population. So 87.7% of the EU's population remain represented by the participating member states. That would only increase the Irish population weight from 0.9% to 1% - a marginal increase. Supposing the unlikely scenario of both the UK and France abstaining occurred. That would increase the Irish population-weight to 1.2%. Suppose the even more unlikely scenario were to occur of the UK, France and even Germany abstaining. Even then, the Irish population weight only rises to 1.54%!. So the thesis that the proviso that, when countries abstain, the 35%+ blocking-minority only refers to the population of the participating member states, somehow makes Ireland appreciably more influential in QMV votes is not one I accept. The fact remains that when QMV is extended to new policy areas, a stream of new legislation in that policy-area is inevitable, and the democratically-elected Dail Eireann will find itself hemmed in by having to ensure it legislates in compliance with the increased EU legislation. The Commission initiates the legislation (except in some areas of Justice and Home Affairs and the CFSP), and it is unelected. Now you may argue that the member-state governments on the Council are elected. But they are not elected by the Irish people. I believe there is no such thing as a single "European demos", but rather there are 27 different demos in the EU. The Irish demos is going to find that the real power rests in Brussels and rather than in Dublin in the areas subject to QMV under the Lisbon Treaty, and that with a default population-weight of 0.9% - likely to decline further in the event of the expected Enlargement of the EU to include countries like Croatia, other parts of the former Yugoslavia (the EU is moving in recent days towards visa-free travel for Serbia) and possibly even Turkey - that the influence of the Irish people in policy areas newly subject to QMV under Lisbon will be tiny, and in no appreciable way compensated for by the prospect of abstention to which you refer.


  • #2


    Our opponents seek to cloud matters by referring to the treaty as if it was a creation of the EU. It is not, it was negotiated by the individual countries, ours included. This crucial distinction is essential as the Treaty can only be understood as an agreement between countries not as a deal given to these countries by bureaucrats in Brussels.

    Individual countries, none of whom would share sovereignty with the others if it brought no advantage to them! Our neighbours are not spendthrift with their sovereignty but guard it as closely as we do! It's a cheap debating trick to portray the Treaty as a means to strip individual countries of their power when in reality no country would have agreed to such a thing! Think about it, why would the small countries have agreed to the QMV system if they felt that policy would simply be railroaded through by the larger nations? None of them would agree to such a change individually, never mind collectively!

    FT is essentially trying to show how the turkeys all voted for Christmas, i.e. that all the small countries looked at the QMV system, saw it would mean they'd have little say in matters, and then all without exception agreed to it because that is what is required to bring a Treaty before the people of Ireland, that every EU country, ours included, has agreed on it.

    The premise that he hasn't backed up, explained or presented to you is that for some reason every member country of the EU would agree to such a system as he describes it. How is this possible? Can his interpretations really be true if no rational Government would agree to such a treaty never mind 27 countries doing so. Why would we be seeing the parliaments of the other small countries ratifying this if his analysis was true?

    Think about it. Most of the doomsday interpretations of these Treaties are shown false year after year (since the first one in the 70s) because of this. They only look plausible if you manage to forget that all the countries have to agree on these documents!


  • #2


    nesf wrote: »
    Our opponents seek to cloud matters by referring to the treaty as if it was a creation of the EU. It is not, it was negotiated by the individual countries, ours included. This crucial distinction is essential as the Treaty can only be understood as an agreement between countries not as a deal given to these countries by bureaucrats in Brussels.
    It was negotiated by the individual governments. But in the case of the French and Dutch peoples, their respective governments have been exposed by the two "no" votes to be utterly out of touch with their respective peoples. The most recent polls in the Netherlands continue to show majority opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, and the recent European elections in that country showed major gains for anti-Lisbon parties. Certainly, the UK government is not representing the will of its people, and is actively defying its mandate from the 2005 General Election manifesto where it promised to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. A succession of political-leaders have acknowledged that the Lisbon Treaty is basically the EU Constitution under another name. On "Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3", Proinsias de Rossa confirmed the 95% argument when he acknowledged that only 5% of the EU Constitution had been removed. And it isn't just him who is saying it. Hear are some quotes from Garrett Fitzgerald, Bertie Ahern, Anders Fogh Rasmussen (former Danish PM) and Angela Merkel (German Chancellor):
    As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.
    They haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there.
    The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters - the core - is left.
    Individual countries, none of whom would share sovereignty with the others if it brought no advantage to them!
    Who is "them"? The countries? Or the politicians? We know from bitter experience of Irish history, both recent and historical (1800 and the Act of Union for example) that politicians can be induced and compromised to agree to measures that at variance with the national interest. 11 years of the Tribunals attest to the betrayal of trust by Fianna Fáil in particular. I reject the thesis that you can equate a country with its politicians in situations where those politicians are in defiance of a democratic mandate to put Lisbon to a referendum - either in its present form or as the EU Constitution. After all, as quoted above, the political-elites have basically acknowledged that Lisbon is the EU Constitution in institutional-terms. I do not believe the Dutch were voting no because the EU flag or anthem. Were that the case, 63% of the Dutch would not continue to oppose the Lisbon Treaty in polls - an almost identical proportion to that which rejected the EU Constitution.Likewise, the French people rejected the EU Constitution by referenda. Nicolas Sarkozy has even acknowledged that were a referendum held on the Lisbon Treaty in France, it would be defeated:
    A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK." — Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, The Daily Telegraph, 14th November 2007
    Some have argued that Sarkozy has some kind of mandate for ratification of Lisbon arising from the French presidential election of 2007. This argument is bogus. There was no "Lisbon Treaty" during that election campaign. It was not clear that the member state governments intended reviving 95% of the rejected EU Constitution under another name. What Sarkozy promised was a "mini-treaty". Far from being a mini-treaty, Lisbon is ten-thousand words longer than the EU Constitution. Sarkozy had also implied that there would be major institutional changes in the mini-treaty relative to the EU Constitution, when in fact there are almost none:
    Speaking in Brussels to an audience of international press, NGOs, EU officials and business leaders at Friends of Europe on 8 September 2006, the French minister stirred up the debate. His new propositions include a “Mini-Treaty”, which would take up "about two-thirds" of novelties from the Constitution that were "not critical" issues during the failed referenda in France and the Netherlands. Sarkozy would like to see the text adopted during the German Eu Presidency in 2007 and ratified during the French Presidency in 2008. Main elements of the “Mini Treaty” include:
    • Election of the Commission president by the European Parliament ;
    • creation of a European minister of foreign affairs ;
    • replacing unanimity by a "super qualified majority";
    • reinforced cooperation, and;
    • citizen initiative.
    And lest you be tempted to believe that the citizens-initiative (which is non-binding advice by 1 million citizens across a number of countries whose number will be determined in the future by the Council) constitutes a "change" - it does not. It was also part of the EU Constitution. Likewise, the EU Foreign Affairs Minister from the EU Constitution was simply renamed the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Changes he proposed such as a new "super qualified majority" did not make it into the Lisbon Treaty. The form of Qualified Majority Voting contained in the Lisbon Treaty is identical to that contained in the rejected EU Constitution.
    Our neighbours are not spendthrift with their sovereignty but guard it as closely as we do! It's a cheap debating trick to portray the Treaty as a means to strip individual countries of their power when in reality no country would have agreed to such a thing! Think about it, why would the small countries have agreed to the QMV system if they felt that policy would simply be railroaded through by the larger nations? None of them would agree to such a change individually, never mind collectively!
    In a republic, sovereignty comes from the people. The Government of the French republic, in defying the express-will of its people in the EU Constitution referendum, is therefore being spendthrift with French sovereignty. The highest form of democracy is direct democracy. A democratic Europe cannot be built on undemocratic-foundations. It is my firm conviction that where the opinions of direct and representative democracy within a country collide, that the former must have precedence. We need to get away from the elitist doctrine of Brussels that equates member state governments with "countries", even when they are defying the express wishes of their respective peoples in referenda. The UK Labour party ran for election in 2005 on a platform of holding a referendum on the EU Constitution. They broke that pledge. The process of negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty, as admitted by political leaders I have quoted above, was nothing more than a subterfuge designed to overthrow the democratic-rights to self-determination of the French and Dutch peoples by foisting on them 95% of the Treaty they rejected in 2005.

    More is at stake on the question of Lisbon ratification. The elites accuse figures on the no campaign of opposing "every EU treaty" in the past. That conveniently ignores the fact that in the 2008 referendum, there was an increase of 350,000 in the number of no voters relative to the Nice II referendum. Were these the "same people" who opposed "every EU treaty"? Of course not. It is a marker of how, in addition to the EU democratic-deficit, we also have a national democratic deficit with a political-class that is not representing public opinion on individual issues. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect political representatives to be carbon-copies of the electorate they are charged with representing. Even so, we are dealing with a chasm on the issue of European integration. Even going back to 1987, 30-54% of the electorate have been voting no at every EU referendum. Who is representing their opinion in Leinster House? They don't vote for Sinn Féin. And the Lisbon Treaty didn't even exist at the last General Election, at which point the Greens were still opponents of the EU Constitution. Here is text from a dissenting report by opponents of the EU Constitution including John Gormley, which underlines how in the EU, principle can be so easily parted with for power:
    The Constitution concentrates more executive and budgetary power in the very EU institutions which have been the subject of repeated and continuing scandals over mismanagement, waste and fraud...The draft Constitution creates a new centralised European state, more powerful, more remote, with more politicians, more bureaucracy, and a wider gap between the rulers and the ruled.

    So likewise, the Greens cannot claim a mandate from the Irish people for their support for the Lisbon Treaty. To have a mandate to approve a treaty, the treaty has to actually exist at the time you received the mandate. The European Parliament doesn't have a role in the ratification of internal EU Treaties (unlike agreements between the EU and Third Countries), so the European elections don't count, in this respect.

    Let us be clear on what is at stake. It is true, that in the past, EU treaties were sometimes rejected by an electorate in a referendum, and yet came into affect later because the country changed its mind. But Lisbon is different. Never before have EU leaders shown such duplicity and contempt for democracy, that they would seek to foist Treaty provisions rejected in a referendum in 2 member states on those nations without them being asked by referendum had they changed their mind. We are lucky that we have a Constitution and the Crotty Judgement 1987 that ensure we are even being asked directly for our opinion. If Lisbon goes through, the Charter of Fundamental Rights will override that Constitution by virtue of being enshrined into EU law via Article 6 TEU and Paragraph 6 (Article 29.4.6. of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009.). This is a defining moment for the EU. My own journey from a Euroenthusiast to a pro-European doubter was in large part a consequence of the contempt for democracy which the EU leaders and the Brussels elite have shown for 2 nations that exercised their right to self-determination and now face having it trampled on if Lisbon goes through. What is being proposed violated the principle of self-determination on which our state was founded, and which is enshrined in Chapter 1 of the UN Charter. As I have stated before: you cannot build a democratic-Europe on anti-democratic foundations. The history of Europe shows what happens when power is centralised in the hands of an unelected elite.
    FT is essentially trying to show how the turkeys all voted for Christmas, i.e. that all the small countries looked at the QMV system, saw it would mean they'd have little say in matters, and then all without exception agreed to it because that is what is required to bring a Treaty before the people of Ireland, that every EU country, ours included, has agreed on it.
    Again you equate "countries" with "governments/parliaments". I do not. Politicians can be induced. The current EU Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Jacques Barrot, received a pardon from then French President Jacques Chirac for an embezzlement conviction prior to his appointment as the French EU Commissioner. Do we want to make it easier for this man to push through proposed legislation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (!) by empowering the Irish Government/Oireachtas to abolish the optout Protocol 21 via Paragraph 7 of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill? Increasing the power of the unaccountable, unelected (either by Europeans at all in the case of the Commission and EU quangos or unelected by the Irish people in the case of most of the Council of Ministers/Council and most of the European Parliament) bureaucrats in Brussels can only lead to an exacerbation of the dubious ethical-climate in Brussels. For 15 yrs, the EU budget accounts have not been signed-off on. Were that to have happened in Ireland, you can be sure that FG and Labour would want heads to roll. But such is their abdication of responsibility of an Opposition - so crucial in a democracy - to hold the powers that be to account - that they are silent on this. Whatever you might say about the low ethical-standards of our national politicians, it is hard to believe that someone in the position of Jacques Barrot would subsequently have been appointed to the Cabinet here. It seems that the EU's ethical standards are even lower than that of our own politicians. Do we want to go from the frying-pan to the fire? Until democratic-reforms are introduced in the EU, including forcing these Commissioners to stand for election either in European Parliament constituencies or in their respective member states, the ethical climate in Brussels will only get worse, and EU decisionmakers will be compromised by that climate.
    The premise that he hasn't backed up, explained or presented to you is that for some reason every member country of the EU would agree to such a system as he describes it. How is this possible? Can his interpretations really be true if no rational Government would agree to such a treaty never mind 27 countries doing so. Why would we be seeing the parliaments of the other small countries ratifying this if his analysis was true?
    I believe that a huge web of patronage and vested interests ties the federalist parties together in this conspiracy. It just isn't natural in a democracy to have 95% of the political-representatives going against the express-will of 54% of their people in referenda. It is reasonable to ask why this is so? I think we can discern some clues as to the answer to that question, which bring back disturbing memories of the circumstances of the passage of the Act of Union through the Irish Parliament in 1800. For example, the European Parliament Budgetary Affairs Committee voted to suppress the Galvin Report on abuse of the EP expenses system. Both FG's group (the EPP) and Labour's group (then PES now PASDE) voted to suppress it. In a bizarre spectacle for parliamentary politicss, the EPP and PASDE - supposedly ideological-opposites - voted for the same candidate for President of the European Parliament. In answer to your question as to why so many governments/parliaments support this Treaty if it is no destructive of their national interests, I would give a simple answer: the gravy-train. How did the Act of Union get through the Irish Parliament? No doubt a minority are motivated by principle. But in my personal opinion, money and patronage and the prospect of patronage are the dominant reason for such a strangely uniformity among political-opponents. Democracy is about choice. When the political-elites suddenly close ranks, that ought to make us suspicious. I would like to invoke the words of the famous 18th century economist Adam Smith, in a context which I believe also applies to the "political-trade", when he said:
    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
    A LEAKED internal report has revealed systematic abuses by Euro MPs of parliamentary allowances that enable them to pocket more than £1m in profits from a single five-year term, writes Jonathan Oliver. The auditor’s confidential report, suppressed by the Brussels parliament, discloses the extraordinary frauds used by MEPs to siphon off staff allowances funded by taxpayers. It shows that some claimed for paying assistants of whom no record exists, awarded them bonuses of up to 1½ times annual salary and diverted public money into front companies. An investigation into the abuses of staff allowances worth up to £182,000 a year — many of which are paid by MEPs to members of their family — was delivered in January last year but was not published.
    A copy of the 92-page report, prepared by Robert Galvin, the parliament’s head of internal audit, has been seen by The Sunday Times. It reveals:
    - Payments were made to assistants who were not accredited with the European parliament and to companies whose accounts showed no activity.
    - End-of-year bonuses worth up to 19½ times monthly salary were paid to assistants to allow members to use up their full annual allowance.
    - Payments, supposedly for secretarial work, were made to a crèche whose manager happened to be a local politician from the MEP’s political party.
    Payments were made straight into the coffers of national political parties.
    - Some assistants doubled their money by banking pay-offs from outgoing MEPs at the same time as receiving salaries from incoming ones.
    - One MEP claimed to have paid the full £182,000 staff allowance to one person, suspected of being a relative...
    nesf wrote:
    Think about it. Most of the doomsday interpretations of these Treaties are shown false year after year (since the first one in the 70s) because of this. They only look plausible if you manage to forget that all the countries have to agree on these documents!
    The predictions of the "no" camp in the Nice Treaty referendum with respect to the mass-importation of exploited migrant labour proved to be correct. For the first time, the Irish people show a negative side to the EU - that of promoting a race to the bottom in pay and conditions - as copperfastened by infamous ECJ rulings like Ruffert and Viking in particular. In the Ruffert case, a local-authority that wanted to impose the agreed pay-rate on a company employing Eastern Europeans was prevented from doing so by the ECJ. In this context, remember these quotes from the Nice II campaign in 2002, since when Dick Roche, Micheal Martin, Willie O'Dea, Brian Cowen, Pronsias de Rossa and others have been proven wrong in their promises on immigration from Eastern Europe:
    There is no reason to believe...... that large numbers of workers will wish to come
    [quote="Dick Roche interview with The Irish Catholic, Govt.
    Buildings 19/9/2002"]It is the view of the Irish government and a number of other governments that this idea that there is going to be a huge influx of immigrants is just not supported. The evidence is just not there for it. They are not going to flood to the west.The same rules are going to apply in all 15 states. There is no evidence to suggest that the people of the Czech Republic or Poland are less anxious to stay in their home as (sic) we are.[/quote][quote="Proinsias de Rossa, I.T. Letters
    20/8/2002 "]It is a deliberate misrepresentation to suggest that tens of thousands will suddenly descend en masse on Ireland... The expected trickle of immigration to Ireland will on balance benefit the
    Irish economy...I estimate that fewer than 2,000 will choose our distant shores each year.[/quote]
    Efforts have been made to foment fears that migrants from the new member states could flock to Ireland. This is not only unpleasant but plainly wrong.
    Ireland is already benefiting from the skills and energy of workers from the applicant states, about 7,000 of whom received work permits last year. There is no basis whatever for expecting a huge upsurge in these numbers.
    The economic case for Lisbon i.e. that it will help recovery, has also suffered a blow following a late intervention by UCD Economist Ray Kinsella - one of the few to predict the housing-crash. He states that Lisbon will not improve the prospects for the Irish economy:
    The Lisbon Treaty has nothing to do with the present recession. The treaty itself has very little relevance to the international economy. Its concern is still the internal administrative, legislature, and governance issues that were raised during the last debate. The Lisbon Treaty would not make it any easier for the EU to devise and implement policies or strategies to tackle the international economic crisis we are now in. In its absence the EU is getting on with its efforts to address the economic crisis we face unhindered. We didn’t for instance need the Lisbon treaty to agree on the Basle II agreement on capital adequacy for banks.If one were to contemplate the argument that it (the Lisbon Treaty) is a necessary strategic step towards recovery it makes very little sense. The Lisbon Treaty was drawn up during a time of strong growth (and most countries signed up to it during this time) so it seems to be a redundant agreement designed for a completely different set of circumstances to the present ones. On those arguments alone it is perhaps a useless agreement for the recessionary times we now face.

    Having said all that though, it must be stated above all; that the Lisbon Treaty is not a policy document for the recession. The EU will face the recession and draw up its economic policies and agreements with or without the Lisbon Treaty. As we know the Irish government has the prerogative to make decisions for Ireland on international economic policies so long as it doesn’t affect our Constitution. It is only the constitutional element which makes the Lisbon treaty a referenda matter, but the government can carry on at the moment, as they have done, working with their EU partners in devising EU policies in response to the crisis. The Lisbon Treaty has nothing to offer in that regard and it is a further step in a direction that the EU embarked on a long time ago. Policy makers (many with the best of intentions who may not have been aware of where their policies would take them) have steered the EU on an evolution where values centred on the human person have given way to economy-driven values...However, the truth of the matter is that the EU views people as an economic unit, and whether that unit is measured as a member of the proletariat or a consumer; both visions demean the human person as they see him or her as an extension of a political philosophy. For instance the shift away from the traditional farming model over the past forty years has been a disaster. Socio-economic policy should be centred on the dignity of the human person but this policy, like most others within the EU, is centred on markets and the cheapest way at any particular time to supply them. The dangers of this policy, with its overdependence on transport and energy, are obvious (as the food price hikes, particularly in grain, of 2007 are testament to) but there is also the loss of social cohesion and community. Unless these factors are the first priority, the policy offers no long term hope....There were scary parallels between the meltdown in Iceland’s economy and the implosion of Ireland’s economy. Both leveraged their economy to extraordinary levels: they both borrowed heavily using present assets and reserves as surety. Iceland borrowed at a ratio of ten to one. Iceland then lent out and invested abroad. Of course when the recession hit they found that all these investments could no longer be backed with any real money.

    This spectacularly greedy speculation all sounds familiar to us. But the difference is that Iceland did it on a far greater scale to Ireland and was more dependant on it than we were.

    Being members of the EU did not cushion us or save us from the fallout of this. The truth is that if intervention is called for it will probably be the IMF who will step in and not the European Central Bank. If the ECB or Germany stands in to bail Ireland and Spain, Greece, etc. out, it could spell disaster for the Euro and for the German economy (which is seen as a sort of barometer for the health of the European economy as a whole)...Possibly the EU as a financial backer is not capable of steering Ireland and its other ailing economies through the next ten years. Each country must take a pro-active part in its own recovery including cooperating at an international level to bring stability to financial markets through stable financial practice. This is possible; it has already begun, and will continue with or without the Lisbon Treaty. The Basle II agreement on capital adequacy for banks is a good start to curtail the bad practices that have grown in banking, and other steps will be taken. It is a mistake to presume that this won’t be done without the Lisbon Treaty coming into force.
    A number of other variables also undermine the "yes" camp's arguments linking Lisbon to the economy. There is no evidence linking the original "no" vote or the Irish recession to an exodus of FDI. The IDA have said that FDI in Ireland actually rose 14% in 2008.
    IDA wrote:
    Investment Highlights 2008
    # A total of 130 Foreign Direct Investment Projects won
    # New Investments Secured up 14% on 2007
    # Number of new companies investing in Ireland for the first time up 16% on 2007
    # Over 8,800 new jobs created
    # A 22% increase in Research, Development and Innovation Projects
    # Circa €2 billion in investments secured
    Furthermore, the Irish Exporters' Association has predicted a rise in exports this year of 1%. In the year up to April 2009, German exports fell by 29% while Irish exports rose by 5%. The CSO says that in the year up to June, Irish industrial-production rose by 4.3%, rising to an incredible 30.5% in the American chemical sector in Ireland. This does not suggest that the "no" vote has harmed FDI in Ireland. In the year up to July 2009, industrial-production in the Irish manufacturing-sector rose by 8.9%. Amazingly, industrial-production in the American Pharmaceutical sector rose by 68.3% in the year up to July 2009. Our recession is primarily construction-based, and I would contend that pro-cyclical ECB interest-rates, together with the mass-importation of cheap labour after the 2004 Enlargement of the EU, contributed strongly to the housing-bubble. Having said that, I do not blame the immigrants, but rather incompetent politicians and EU bureaucrats who - while understanding orientating their policies around the interests of larger economies - have harmed Ireland in the process. In that context, it would be unwise for Ireland to vote to make commercial-policy an exclusive competence of the EU by voting for the Lisbon Treaty. Article 207 of the TFEU as amended by Lisbon introduces QMV for WTO agreements:
    1. The common commercial policy shall be based on uniform principles, particularly with regard to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements relating to trade in goods and services, and the commercial aspects of intellectual property, foreign direct investment, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, export policy and measures to protect trade such as those to be taken in the event of dumping or subsidies. The common commercial policy shall be conducted in the context of the principles and objectives of the Union's external action.
    2.The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the measures defining the framework for implementing the common commercial policy.
    3. Where agreements with one or more third countries or international organisations need to be negotiated and concluded, Article 218 shall apply, subject to the special provisions of this Article.
    The Commission shall make recommendations to the Council, which shall authorise it to open the necessary negotiations. The Council and the Commission shall be responsible for ensuring that the agreements negotiated are compatible with internal Union policies and rules. The Commission shall conduct these negotiations in consultation with a special committee appointed by the Council to assist the Commission in this task and within the framework of such directives as the Council may issue to it. The Commission shall report regularly to the special committee and to the European Parliament on the progress of negotiations.
    4. For the negotiation and conclusion of the agreements referred to in paragraph 3, the Council shall act by a qualified majority.For the negotiation and conclusion of agreements in the fields of trade in services and the commercial aspects of intellectual property, as well as foreign direct investment, the Council shall act unanimously where such agreements include provisions for which unanimity is required for the adoption of internal rules.
    The Council shall also act unanimously for the negotiation and conclusion of agreements:
    (a) in the field of trade in cultural and audiovisual services, where these agreements risk prejudicing the Union's cultural and linguistic diversity;
    (b) in the field of trade in social, education and health services, where these agreements risk seriously disturbing the national organisation of such services and prejudicing the responsibility of Member States to deliver them.
    5. The negotiation and conclusion of international agreements in the field of transport shall be subject to Title VI of Part Three and to Article 218.
    6. The exercise of the competences conferred by this Article in the field of the common commercial policy shall not affect the delimitation of competences between the Union and the Member States, and shall not lead to harmonisation of legislative or regulatory provisions of the Member States in so far as the Treaties exclude such harmonisation
    This means that the veto on WTO agreements is gone, except where agreements on FDI "include provisions for which unanimity is required for the adoption of internal rules or where agreements "would threathen the EU's "cultural and linguistic diversity", or where agreements in the areas of social, health and education policy would "risk seriously disturbing the national organisation of such services and prejudicing the responsibility of Member States to deliver them.", Such criteria are subjective. Article 207 endangers the livelihood of Irish farmers with respect to competition from cheap imports, notably of Brazilian beef, despite concerns about its safety. The latest EU commission Food and Veterinary Office Report found that half of all holdings inspected failed to meet EU requirements on the important issues of registration, traceability and movement controls. On the debate on Radio 1 in Arnotts yesterday, RTE Europe Editor Seán Whelan admitted that on WTO agreements related solely to agriculture, the veto goes under the Lisbon Treaty. That fully justifies the warnings of "Farmers for No" about the loss of the WTO veto under Lisbon.


  • #2


    I believe that a huge web of patronage and vested interests ties the federalist parties together in this conspiracy. It just isn't natural in a democracy to have 95% of the political-representatives going against the express-will of 54% of their people in referenda. It is reasonable to ask why this is so? I think we can discern some clues as to the answer to that question, which bring back disturbing memories of the circumstances of the passage of the Act of Union through the Irish Parliament in 1800. For example, the European Parliament Budgetary Affairs Committee voted to suppress the Galvin Report on abuse of the EP expenses system. Both FG's group (the EPP) and Labour's group (then PES now PASDE) voted to suppress it. In a bizarre spectacle for parliamentary politicss, the EPP and PASDE - supposedly ideological-opposites - voted for the same candidate for President of the European Parliament. In answer to your question as to why so many governments/parliaments support this Treaty if it is no destructive of their national interests, I would give a simple answer: the gravy-train. How did the Act of Union get through the Irish Parliament? No doubt a minority are motivated by principle. But in my personal opinion, money and patronage and the prospect of patronage are the dominant reason for such a strangely uniformity among political-opponents. Democracy is about choice. When the political-elites suddenly close ranks, that ought to make us suspicious.

    I'm sorry but your claim is missing a few vital links. Why would removing the QMV sections of the treaty interfere with this gravy train? Why is this gravy train convincing politicians of all stripes in all EU countries to ratify this Treaty?

    Your argument comes down to: We shouldn't trust politicians, ergo we should oppose anything that they all support. The problem is that this point is based on a very dodgy premise, i.e. that mainstream politicians will only all agree with each other when they're screwing over the public. You haven't shown any evidence for this being the case all the time, it's unsurprising that they vote together on pay rises for themselves, but it's equally unsurprising that they would vote together when they all view a treaty or policy to be good on balance for the country.

    You argue that there is a conspiracy against the people, by politicians and I assume IBEC and others yet you offer no evidence of such a conspiracy being in place. If such a conspiracy was in place why have we not been messed around by previous treaties? These conspiracy theories have been raised in referendum after referendum but what we have not seen is any of them bearing fruit.


  • #2


    nesf wrote: »
    Our opponents seek to cloud matters by referring to the treaty as if it was a creation of the EU. It is not, it was negotiated by the individual countries, ours included. This crucial distinction is essential as the Treaty can only be understood as an agreement between countries not as a deal given to these countries by bureaucrats in Brussels.

    Individual countries, none of whom would share sovereignty with the others if it brought no advantage to them! Our neighbours are not spendthrift with their sovereignty but guard it as closely as we do! It's a cheap debating trick to portray the Treaty as a means to strip individual countries of their power when in reality no country would have agreed to such a thing! Think about it, why would the small countries have agreed to the QMV system if they felt that policy would simply be railroaded through by the larger nations? None of them would agree to such a change individually, never mind collectively!

    FT is essentially trying to show how the turkeys all voted for Christmas, i.e. that all the small countries looked at the QMV system, saw it would mean they'd have little say in matters, and then all without exception agreed to it because that is what is required to bring a Treaty before the people of Ireland, that every EU country, ours included, has agreed on it.

    The premise that he hasn't backed up, explained or presented to you is that for some reason every member country of the EU would agree to such a system as he describes it. How is this possible? Can his interpretations really be true if no rational Government would agree to such a treaty never mind 27 countries doing so. Why would we be seeing the parliaments of the other small countries ratifying this if his analysis was true?

    Think about it. Most of the doomsday interpretations of these Treaties are shown false year after year (since the first one in the 70s) because of this. They only look plausible if you manage to forget that all the countries have to agree on these documents!

    I know that FT has specifically replied to this statement; but there are a couple of issues which I will still address in my wall of words.

    There are fundamentally three aspects to the debate on Lisbon:

    1) What has gone before now
    2) The wording of the treaty itself
    3) Hypothetical scenarios concerning ratification or rejection.

    I will look at 1) and 3) here, specifically how they tie into the increase of power to the EU that is granted by Lisbon, which I touched upon in my first post. I will preface this post with the pointer that I will not be talking about how the smaller states specifically lose out under Lisbon - but the manner in which sovereignty shifts across Europe with the ratification of Lisbon.


    First, with respect nesf, you have actually not given a justification for the shift in legislative power; merely stating that governments would, logically speaking, not take actions which would weaken themselves.

    Well, it is plainly clear that governments have throughout history made countless decisions that have negatively impacted their national sovereignty; the point is that it is unlikely to happen simultaneously with twenty-seven member states.

    Moreover, nesf is stating that national governments have the exclusive right to make this decision to accept the shift in legislative competencies as outlined in Lisbon (although he seems to balk at the notion that a shift in legislative competencies from national to supranational executives, by definition undermines national sovereignty). This is, of course, irrespective of the outlook of the polis who are divorced from this process throughout Europe (except Ireland). A polis which, admittedly, could endorse Lisbon in hypothetical referenda, but the fact that the core elements were rejected by half of the nations which received a vote on the matter in the form of Constitution Treaty would seem to auger particularly badly for it.

    But what is the point of all this? Does it matter if even the vast majority of Europeans, their national governments excluded, actually opposed Lisbon? Is the public capable of making such a decision when its stance seems to be so riven by apathy on one hand, and blind ignorance upon the other? Why should we care about the decisions of other member states, when their national governments have ratified a treaty which, strictly speaking, does not conflict with their constitutional limitations? Surely if the EU has been on the whole, a beneficial body for Europeans, then increasing its power can only be a good thing, irrespective of what the people of Europe actually feel. Finally, if the people of Europe were so worked up about Lisbon, surely they could endorse or create political parties which would specifically provide a vote on the matter?

    Well, most of this is simple enough to answer. If you support democracy you support the will of the people. Perhaps not every whim of the public - that would perhaps be impractical to ever implement. But, with a cases in point such such as France which went from the 'petit oui' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Maastricht_Treaty_referendum,_1992 to 'non', to be followed by no vote at all, there has clearly been a falling off between the relationship between the French government and Europe, and the French public, and Europe. Yet, the relationship between the French public and the French government has remained largely the same; thus the French electorate much either sacrifice their values in terms of domestic politics in order to potentially have a voice in their international relationship with Europe, or sacrifice their relationship with Europe in order to pursue a national agenda which they support. And so this is back to what I was talking about in terms of the governments pooling their sovereignty in the form of the supranational EU, and the manner in which this process is extended vis-a-vis Lisbon. The 'citizens' of EUrope have no direct influence over this process, because the citizens of Europe have almost no direct power.

    Sure, the French could elect euro-skeptic MEPs to the EU Parliament.

    And what, exactly would that solve?

    Even if every single French MEP was euro-skeptic they would not have enough votes to swing the Parliament. Even if they did, which they wouldn't, they could achieve only a flat veto against something like Lisbon, or potentially make some incidental changes to its structure. They would be unable to give the French a direct vote on the matter; moreover they would not be able to write a Treaty such as Lisbon, but instead would be limited to merely responding to the bills produced by the Commission and Consilium. The problem returns to national governance; and even in this regard there are other serious issues.

    For instance, Labour in the UK promised a referendum on Lisbon. And then didn't. Simple as that. Similarly, as FT pointed out, Sarcozy was, at best, economical with the truth when considering a hypothetical European treaty. At worst he betrayed the public's confidence. And France is just being used as an example here, seeing that it is one of the largest and most powerful nations, and seeing that the public's view of recent European Treaties is clear to see through the results of its referenda.

    Although a French citizen is a European citizen, its relationship to the state apparati of the EU is almost exclusively conducted through their national government. The fact that there is a vote somewhere along the line does not mean it is democratic. Even if it is legal.

    Apologies about the digression, and getting orgasmic over the virtues of democracy.

    What right have we to question how the French government conducts its business?

    No, no! What right has the EU to question how the Irish conduct their business?

    Because this has been the backbone of the 'yes to Lisbon II' campaign: the carrot and stick of guarantees on the one hand, and economic isolation on the other.

    When Biffo came puffing from the plane clutching a piece of paper and claiming that it guaranteed guarantees in our time, was this an episode exlusively in terms of Ireland's relationship with the government, or did it also include Ireland's relationship with the EU? When Ireland voted in Lisbon I, was this an issue exclusively between the Irish electorate and our government? Again, is Lisbon II a vote on whether Ireland approves of the governments decision concerning the formation and ratification of Lisbon, or does the rest of the EU come into play?

    Well, I believe that the 'yes' side has answered this, quite clearly, for me.

    YES TO EUROPE YES TO LISBON

    Okay, its diction is a little off, but the message is clear: if you say no to Lisbon you are saying no to Europe.

    Okay, fair enough. We are vetoing a bill drawn up by the governments of Europe and ratified by several thousand politicians.

    'The rage that was directed at Ireland after the last vote' : De Rossa.

    What? What! Stop the lights! Rage? Is this veto not a sovereign decision? Is it not as powerful as if every single European state overwhelmingly voted against Lisbon? Was the EU not founded upon the principle of unanimity?

    Well, legally that is the case. But in practice there will be hell to pay if we vote no again - ostensibly at least. And what hell is this?

    1. There will be a lack of goodwill shown to Ireland.
    2. The Irish government will not have as much respect within the Consilium.
    3. Multinationals might take flight at perceived euroskepticism.

    Goodwill? Goodwill? God almighty we are talking about rewriting the constitution of Europe, and we are here considering goodwill as if referenda were a section of PR. Goodwill has been transformed into the Snowball's Windmill of economic recovery out of all proportion to any hypothetical merit or immediate value. Goodwill shows up the Irish citizen's relationship to the EU: what goodwill does an Irish citizen have to curry with its own government? Does an Irish citizen have to be in fear of retribution for voting against a particular party? How did it come to pass that such blatant threats could become the essential characteristic of a political campaign in a democracy?

    There I go again, talking about democracy. Of the people, by the people, for the people. The EU never purported to be a democracy (although some advocates, as of late, have argued to the contrary). Yet why in this case is it being granted further aspects of statehood under lisbon if it is not democratic?

    If it is a union between sovereign states based on economic cooperation why is there a European edict whereby it is now illegal to give toys to charity shops in Ireland (I didn't make this up!). Where Ireland has no longer exclusive rights over immigration law, even in terms of citizens from countries outside of the EU. Or even in the mundane consideration of CFS bulbs being banned. And how would anybody in Ireland oppose such legislation? Who could you elect who would have a manifesto which might challenge these rulings? Because I'd really like to know - because when Lisbon comes to pass they will be on a hell of a lot more grounds than currently exist.

    I find it hard to rationally argue the case of multinationals taking flight with regards to a hypothetical perceived euro-skepticism which in no way affects Ireland's legal relationship to the EU.

    Unless the case is that Ireland is thrown out of Europe (illegal) or consigned to a two-tier Europe (again, another threat, completely hypothetical, and shows the gravest disrespect to Ireland's sovereign decision). Potentially the EU could remove funding from Ireland (Ireland last year came 11th in terms of absolute funding from the EU). Again, is this the sort of decision we should be afraid of when talking about granting this same construct more legislative power?

    As Micheal O'Leary said: 'Europe has a long memory'.

    And although national sovereignty is damaged by Lisbon, the decisions of the individual governments are further insulated within the structure of the EU - making a direct impact by Europe's citizens against such decisions almost negligible.

    Although there is the Citizens' Petition. Which has not even the slightest trace of legal power, never mind legislative capability (although it is a nice pretense at democracy, all the same). But hey! Maybe democracy is not what is all cracked up to be. That certainly seems to be the view in regards to Lisbon, at least.


  • #2


    I know that FT has specifically replied to this statement; but there are a couple of issues which I will still address in my wall of words.

    First, with respect, you have actually not given a justification for the shift in legislative power; merely stating that governments would, logically speaking, not take actions which would weaken themselves.

    Well, it is plainly clear that governments have throughout history made countless decisions that have negatively impacted their national sovereignty; the point is that it is unlikely to happen simultaneously with twenty-seven member states.

    Merely stating that it's unlikely to happen simultaneously with twenty-seven member States doesn't address this point. The premise is that these 27 voluntarily gave up substantial amounts of power in EU for small countries. This premise has not been shown to be true or likely by the presentation of any evidence.

    I'm asking, FT and yourselves to explain the justification for this premise and further to explain how such a premise is also supported by IBEC/ICTU/FG/Labour and so on. So far we've had a lot of reasoning and argument based on this premise being true but little to no support of this premise upon which much of your arguments rest.


  • #2


    Having bad internet problems so cannot be as vocal as i would like to be
    To the Judges , The members of the yes camp, and the public viewing the Boards.ie Lisbon debate many greetings

    I Sparks43 hereby commence the debate from apoint of fisheries and the damage the E.U has already done to our industry

    I have been a angler all my life in competition and for recreation and the destruction of our waters over the 25 years I have experienced is shocking


    Lisbon represents the final nail in the coffin for coastal communities and the
    populations that depend on our indigenous fishing industry. Control of national
    fisheries was handed over to Brussels on our accession to the EEC in 1973 in
    exchange for what was believed to be a good deal for farming within the CAP.
    The division of quotas has led to a situation where Ireland’s fishing waters
    account for around 12% of the EU fishery but Irish fishermen are currently
    allowed only around 4% of the EU quota.
    The Common Fisheries Policy is one of the worst examples of a centralised EU
    policy. It is backward-looking, inflexible and completely detrimental to the
    survival, let alone, the development of fishing communities of Ireland.






    I shall further my debate on this matter with statistics on the last 36 years and would encourage a member of the yes camp to engage in discussion on this

    Thank you all for reading
    Sparks43
    To continue

    ARTICLE 32

    1. The Union shall define and implement a common agriculture and fisheries policy.
    The internal market shall extend to agriculture, fisheries and trade in agricultural products. 'Agricultural products' means the products of the soil, of stockfarming and of fisheries and products of first-stage processing directly related to these products. References to the common agricultural policy or to agriculture, and the use of the term "agricultural", shall be understood as also referring to fisheries, having regard to the specific characteristics of this sector.
    2. Save as otherwise provided in Articles 33 to 38, the rules laid down for the establishment and functioning of the internal market shall apply to agricultural products.
    3. The products subject to the provisions of Articles 33 to 38 are listed in Annex I.
    4. The operation and development of the internal market for agricultural products must be accompanied by the establishment of a common agricultural policy.


    ARTICLE 38

    Where in a Member State a product is subject to a national market organisation or to internal rules having equivalent effect which affect the competitive position of similar production in another Member State, a countervailing charge shall be applied by Member States to imports of this product coming from the Member State where such organisation or rules exist, unless that State applies a countervailing charge on export.

    The Commission shall fix the amount of these charges at the level required to redress the balance; it may also authorise other measures, the conditions and details of which it shall determine.
    The E.U has

    • Lowered Irish Quotas
    • Destroyed migratory and pelagic species by over fishing
    • Turned a blind eye to quota hopping
    • Forced the Irish Fishing fleet to scrap many boats to the demise of our ports
    • Ruined our tourism in the fisheries area
    • Taken countless billions out of our waters
    Lisbon makes a bad situation worse in all these respects the small little bit of control we once had will be extinquished for all time

    The fishermen never got any 'hand outs'. They invest huge sums. They are hunted down like common criminals by our own navy and the ultra aggressive SFPA. They are the only fishermen being policed in Irish territorial waters. They risk life and limb every day. There are very few of them left.
    This industry did not depend on foreign investment.
    They are not over paid bureaucrats.
    They are not property speculators.
    They are employed in one of the only god given assets this island has.
    SUPPORT THEM. They deserve our support just as much as many other categories of non producing idlers this country has produced.



    Vote No to Lisbon


  • #2


    nesf wrote:
    I'm sorry but your claim is missing a few vital links. Why would removing the QMV sections of the treaty interfere with this gravy train? Why is this gravy train convincing politicians of all stripes in all EU countries to ratify this Treaty?
    That aspect of the gravy-train that relies on patronage depends to a huge degree on adhering to the party-line of unquestioning subservience to European political-integration. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
    Your argument comes down to: We shouldn't trust politicians, ergo we should oppose anything that they all support. The problem is that this point is based on a very dodgy premise, i.e. that mainstream politicians will only all agree with each other when they're screwing over the public. You haven't shown any evidence for this being the case all the time, it's unsurprising that they vote together on pay rises for themselves, but it's equally unsurprising that they would vote together when they all view a treaty or policy to be good on balance for the country.
    That is certainly not my position. What should make us suspicious is when we see almost total uniformity of opinion in a manner that is totally out of touch with public opinion, - especially when the cosy-consensus is joined by virtually the entire print and broadcast media, most of the union leaderships (who refuse to ballot their members), high-profile business leaders, farming-organisation leaders etc.. When I see that happening, alarm bells go off. Democracy depends on choice. Where dissent is smothered - as it clearly is within these organisations - the democratic spirit of choice is greatly undermined. That makes Lisbon - an indeed EU treaties - an important special case. The most appalling example of this for me was in 2001, when John Bruton described the Nice Treaty as "a disaster" before calling on the Irish to vote for it. Then after the "no" vote (I actually voted yes on that occasion), Cowen proceeded to humiliate this country by publicly saying "sorry" to the EU Commission President Romano Prodi in front of the world's media. What makes Lisbon all the more disturbing as a special-case is that - were it any other issue - you would expect it to be a matter of great partisan controversy. 3 countries having voted "no" to the EU Constitution/Lisbon blueprint. Yet the Irish and European elite (barring a few token exceptions such as Czech President Klaus and Polish President Kazsynski) insist the Lisbon show must go on. I firmly believe that democracy depends on dissent, and that when the entire Establishment bands together to smother dissent, that the democratic-instincts of the Irish people should be to distrust what they are being told. The peoples of Europe have not spent a 400 years - at the great cost in blood and treasure - transitioning from Divine Right to democracy and republicanism only to meekly consent to a restoration of Divine Right under another guise - that of European integration. We are not being told the final destination to which are are being pushed by the Euro-elite. We are being told that we must vote yes - in the words of the Irish Independent: 'voting no is no longer an option'. In the Irish Times, the no side - supported by 54% of the electorate and 864,000 voters in Lisbon I - are demonised in increasingly hysterical terms - not unlike what one would expect in a totalitarian state. For example, in the Irish Times, Sean Kinsella compares the no side to the Lockerbie bombers:
    Anti-Lisbon groups now feel free to make arguments that have no basis in reality in the belief that nobody can, or will, challenge them, writes...Fact-free political debate can have lethal consequences....Scotland’s release on compassionate grounds of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi revives many of the unanswered questions about that barbarous attack. Out of the murky waters of Middle Eastern conflicts, drug smuggling, and intelligence agency rivalries in the US, Syria and Iran comes a repeated murmur that Libya had little or nothing to do with the bombing....Interpreted facts can sometimes lead to barbarous actions – as they did over Lockerbie. Ignorance invariably does, making it lethal for our very humanity.
    As a no voter last year who voted yes in the previous 3 EU referenda, I bitterly resent such hectoring and derision of the views of 864,000 Irish people, and - whatever the outcome this time - still the views of hundreds of thousands of Irish people. It speaks to the lack of democracy in the European project when it has to resort to bullying its people into submission to get them to vote "the right way". In that context, the bullying tone of the pro-Lisbon elites further exacerbates the democratic-deficit at the heart of Europe, and by extension, surrender to it by voting yes, would reward it. And in rewarding it, we would ultimately worsen it to our detriment. If the political-class succeeds in foisting this Treaty's provisions on the French and Dutch people (who are not even being asked for their opinions this time), then a Rubicon will have been crossed to a anti-democratic Europe, in which electoral decisions not satisfactory to the ruling-classes can be rendered null and void. Today they refuse to accept a referendum result. Tomorrow it could be an election result. That is why I say that by voting no, the Irish are saving democracy in Europe - and in doing so being the real "pro-Europeans". We no voters believe in democracy - the most European of values - and believe that to defend the rights of the peoples of Europe to determine their own future (as opposed to their elites doing so for them) - that we are the engaged in pro-European activity. The real "anti-Europeans" are those who would seek to deny them that right.

    It does not seem credible to me, or to many "no" voters who support the EU but not this Treaty, to constantly re-invent the constitutional-wheel that are the Treaties every 4/5 years, while assuring us that this project is not about creating a Federal Europe. It is not a credible position. I am aware of the Czech and German Constitutional Court rulings to the effect that a Federal state is not being inaugurated by Lisbon. But the ECJ interprets the EU Treaties, which under Irish law supersede the Irish Constitution (presently Article 29.4.10 of the Irish Constitition - which - in modified form - becomes Article 29.4.6. if we vote yes on Friday). So the German and Czech constitutional contexts differ somewhat from that of Ireland.

    Your contention that we have not been "messed around by previous treaties" is not one I share. The fishermen of Ireland certainly would not share it. The Irish Fisherman's Organisation, which opposes Lisbon, has claimed that €200 billion in fishing-rights has been lost to Ireland since 1973 and are opposing Lisbon. The Viking/Ruffert/Laval judgement underline the new context of the post-Nice/Enlargement EU, where workers-rights are being undermined by a race to the bottom. The race to the bottom - for the first time - was a tangible disadvantage of an EU treaty (Nice) that persuaded many to vote no to Nice I. In the Ruffert case, on 3 April 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), ruled that Member States may not adopt legislative measures which limit contractors for public works contracts to those undertakings which, within their tender submission, agree to pay their employees at least the rate set by a collective agreement. The court ruled that such action would be in breach of the freedom to provide cross-border services, interpreted in the light of Article 49 EC of the Treaty. This ruling, along with those of Viking and Laval, represents a significant development in relation to the exercise of conflicting rights and potentially a weakening of the rights of trade unions and workers. The Rüffert case (Dirk Rüffert v Land Niedersachsen, Case C-346/06) concerned a law from the German federal state of Lower Saxony (Land Niedersachsen) on the award of public contracts, applying to all contracts with a value of more than €10,000. The law was aimed at counteracting distortions of competition within the construction and transport sectors that could arise through the use of cheap labour, by limiting the right to contract to those undertakings prepared to pay the wages laid down in the relevant sectoral collective agreement. The law also extended beyond the contract to sub-contractors and provided for a penalty on the contractor for any breach of the law by the sub-contractor. Land Niedersachsen awarded a contract for structural work in the building of a prison to Objekt und Bauregie, with a contractual term requiring that workers be paid the construction sector rate. Objekt und Bauregie then sub-contracted the work to a company based in Poland. Concerns were later raised that the sub-contractor was paying its 53 workers employed on the building site just 46.57% of the minimum wage laid down in the collective agreement. The contract was terminated and a penalty notice was issued. Dirk Rüffert as the liquidator of the assets of Objekt und Bauregie took a claim against the payment of the penalty to a German national court that decided to refer to the ECJ two questions concerning the freedom to provide services. The first was whether the obligation to comply with collective agreements meant that undertakings based in other Member States would lose the competitive advantage they enjoyed by reason of their lower wage costs, compared to those in Germany and also whether this interfered with the freedom to provide cross-border services. The second question was whether, if the law was an interference with this freedom, it could be justified by overriding reasons related to the public interest, in particular for the necessary protection of workers.

    I have said before that even when existing terminology remains similar or the same (e.g. with the respect to the overriding aspect of EU law over the Constitution since 1973), that changed contexts can effectively change its meaning. I would contend that this has proven to be the case where freedom of movement of worker's is concerned:
    "Article wrote:
    Within the framework of the provisions set out below, restrictions on freedom to provide services within the Community shall be prohibited in respect of nationals of Member States who are established in a State of the Community other than that of the person for whom the services are intended.The Council may, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, extend the provisions of the Chapter to nationals of a third country who provide services and who are established within the Community.
    You may ask why I am bringing up a previous EU treaty in the context of this discussion. I am doing so to counter your thesis that previous treaties did not result in difficulties for Ireland. Prior to EU Enlargement in 2004, I would have agreed with you. But the manner in which unscruplous employers - supported by an ECJ that puts freedom of the labour market before worker's rights - have been allowed to exploit migrant labour, with obvious negative consequences for the working-conditions and security of employment of workers of the hos-country, is a warning sign for those who believe the propaganda of the "yes" side with respect to the capacity of the Charter of Fundamental Rights to improve worker's rights. This thesis by the yes side is largely based on Article 28 of the Charter, which states:
    Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action.
    This provision, far from enhancing workers-rights, does nothing for them. That is because it is left to the EU institutions (through legislative instruments and decisions) and the member states to address collective-bargaining. It is nothing new. It simply restates that the EU and the member states are have the power to provide for collective-bargaining. But it does fit a pattern within the Charter of encouraging a race to the bottom, when the aforementioned (see first post) Article 15 of the Charter (allowing asylum-seekers to work) is taken into account. And yes - I know that the Government say we have optout on Justice and Home Affairs. But as stated in my first post, Paragraph 7 of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009 allows the Government/Oireachtas to abolish that optout without a referendum.

    You misundertand me by narrowly connecting my charge of their being a "gravy-train" with QMV. Much of what I meant related to the prospects of patronage in the myriad of existing EU institutions, including candidacy for EP elections, Commissionerships, becoming a judge on the ECJ for the legal profession, getting appointed to the EU Court of Auditors, the ECB executive/board/Governing-Council, to the European Defence Agency, Europol, Eurojust etc. For the university professors, there is the prospect of an EU funded job as a Monnet Professor. For members of IBEC/unions/farming orgs, there is the prospect of a position on the European Economic and Social Committee. QMV will apply for the creation of "specialised courts" (225a TFEU):
    The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may establish specialised courts attached to the General Court to hear and determine at first instance certain classes of action or proceeding brought in specific areas. The European Parliament and the Council shall act by means of regulations either on a proposal from the Commission after consultation of the Court of Justice or at the request of the Court of Justice after consultation of the Commission

    . This will provide work for the legal-profession as the judiciary on those courts I want to make clear that I am not impuning the integrity of the existing membership of those bodies. Nonetheless, opposing an EU treaty backed by virtually the entire political, Establishment does not lend itself to enhancing promotion prospects on the Eurocracy - does it? I intend to return to the gravy-train question in more detail tomorrow.

    The question of the Presidency of the European Council also underlines the shift of power from the small countries to the large. At present, the Presidency of the European Council rotates equally between member states every six months. That is being replaced with the office of President of the European Council chosen by QMV (which in itself constitutes a shift of power to the Big States as 4 countries with over 35% of the EU's population will be in a position to block any candidate). This undermines equality between EU member states, which was previously embodied in the equal rotation of the presidency between each member state.


  • #2


    With such short time and such an amount of information, I shall try to be both brief and clear.

    Firstly the continued discussion between FutureTaoiseach and myself over the issue of the European Charter of fundemenatal rights and its legal status and application by the european courts.

    I request only clarification, as your initial response failed to clarify on how the european courts will be * interpreting the Charter including Article 51 as it sees fit. * when the same treaty and article that establish the charter's legal power also specify that it must be interpeted as per the provesions outline in title VII of the charter.

    This does not make article 51 and article 53 simply two of many articles in the charter, it makes them the articles that enforce the type of legal status that the treaty grants the charter.

    The mistake here is applying malicous intent to the court of justice, that they will intention try to work around what has been stated by both the treaties and the charte itself.

    This is pushed by the mis use of prior cases of the European Courts, these being the Laval judgement and the viking judgement. In the case of Viking identiied by FutureTaoiseach explained here by the ETUC's response to the cases: http://www.etuc.org/IMG/pdf_ETUC_EXEC_Viking_Laval_-_expl_memorandum_7-3-081.pdf

    The ECJ ruling on the ations by the ITF during the Viking case were clear that there was a misuse by the ITF of industrial action.
    With regard to the actions by the Finnish Seamen’s Union (FSU), the
    ECJ says that it is up to the national court to assess if the objectives
    pursued really concerned the protection of workers, but the ECJ
    already gives a hint on what is and is not to be considered ‘protection’
    in this case:
    when the jobs or working conditions were really jeopardised or under
    serious threat (which would not be the case if the employer would
    have given guarantees to safeguard them).
    Secondly, the national court must on the one hand take into account
    that collective action is ‘one of the main ways in which unions protect
    the interests of their members’, but on the other hand it must examine
    if the union did not have other means at its disposal which were less
    restrictive of the freedom of establishment (the ‘proportionality test’)
    and whether the union had exhausted those means before taking
    action (‘last resort’).
    However, with regard to the FOC-policy of the ITF, the ECJ says that it
    cannot be objectively justified, because it is a general policy that
    applies irrespective of whether in practice the conditions of
    employment of the workers are harmed by the employer’s exercise of
    his freedom of establishment.

    It is important to understand that the ETUC (representing 82 organisations across europe) has come out in favour of Lisbon due to its social dimension. The weaknessess in the EU law (not the ECJ rulings) shown in the above cases while not outright solved by Lisbon they are taken in the right diretion, including the promotion of subsidery which was one of six suggested alternatives put forward by the ETUC in relation to the Viking/Laval cases.




    Moving on the matter of the EU constitution and the ratification of Lisbon.

    The issue of content is only half the argument. The issue of context is also a serious one to consider. The role the european constitution would have played in european affairs purely from its context, a constitutional document agreed by twenty seven states would have been far more influental then the actual content of the document itself. Consider firstly that to ratify the european constitution, the decision for a referendum wasnt a normal procedure for the Netherlands. Before this there had not been a referendum in over 200 years. The previous 3 referendums all had to do with the approval of a constitution. So its clear that in the eyes of the Netherlands that to them the European Constitution was taking a position somewhere on par with their own Constitution. There was no legal requirement for a referendum, but a decision by the Dutch Parliament Council of State that such an issue required a referendum.
    The 2005 EU constitution referendum came after the Council stated that the document was "to a certain extent" comparable to a change in the Dutch national constitution.

    http://euobserver.com/9/24763

    The same Council's opinion on Lisbon though
    A key report by the Council of State, the Dutch government's highest advisory body, says there is no legal need for a referendum since the new treaty does not include "constitutional" elements

    (on a side note, the poll provided by futureTaoiseach (http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/dutch_voters_would_reject_lisbon_treaty/) it would be important to note that the same issue presented in september 2007 came out in favour of Lisbon and the second poll was during the irst irish referendum where one of the main talking points was this issue of whether the Lisbon Treaty was the same as the Constitution. So the argument that the Dutch opposition to the Lisbon treaty has been consistent since the eu referendum is faulty at least.)


    For France, its equally consistent, French referendums on European Treaties come in two situations, where there is a large accession to the European Union (1972) and when the european union is fundementally changed, such as Maastricht which founded the EU. The European Constitution was seen very much in the same eyes as Maastricht as it did away with all the prior treaties and based the EU of a single new constitution. This change required an update to the French constitution and was put to referendum.

    Lisbon in contrast though, did not require a referendum, it is outlined as such in the french constitution.

    Article 88 -5 specifies
    Any Government Bill authorizing the ratification of a treaty pertaining to the accession of a state to the European Union shall be submitted to referendum by the President of the Republic.

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, by passing a motion adopted in identical terms in each House by a three-fifths majority, Parliament may authorize the passing of the Bill according to the procedure provided for in paragraph three of article 89.

    (http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/english/8ab.asp#XVII)

    Lisbon is regardless of its length a “mini treaty” in the eyes of the French because by their constitution only the accession treaties are expected to be put to referendum. And it does not change the relationship between France and the EU.

    In context Lisbon is a diferent document to the constituion as it persists the relationship between the EU and member states that was already defined by prior treaties


    Moving on

    Very briely, the issue of the Gravy train and the supressed Galvin report. The galvin report leaked in 2009, is four years out of date when it was leaked as the issues it raised had already been acted on in 2005 and as of last June are now in effect

    On the issue of fishing

    Is there a source for the 200 billion lost in fishing?

    Cause the killbegs fishing organisation has come out in favour of Lisbon http://www.independent.ie/national-news/lisbon-treaty/in-brief-fishing-groups-at-odds-over-treaty-1894954.html


    And from inshore ireland and www.seaaroundus.org the total value of fish taken from irish waters since 1950 has been 12 billion. Only 8.4 billion during our time as part of the EU.

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/hmgj5n2mrik/0108FJ4_07N.pdf

    It is important to consider that the fishing industry in Ireland has improved more so under the EU that beore joining the EU the value of fish caught by Irish fisherman was substantialy less then the UK, since our membership our catch is now almost double.


  • #2


    Much has been made about issues like QMV, but despite many arguments and discussions on the issue when the details of the new system is worked in, the change in irish influence does not change anything drasticly

    Macartan Humphry's of the University of Columbia wrote a short piece on the QMV for irisheconomy.ie
    http://www.irisheconomy.ie/Humphreys.pdf

    And her opinion on the voting change:
    Ireland’s voting weight now is about 2%, under
    Lisbon it would be about 2%, and by at least one standard it probably should be about 2%.
    So insofar as voting weight can be measured at all the rules suggest that Ireland’s voting weight won’t change very much. But what will change is the type of power all states have: in general more decisions could be made more easily under Lisbon than under Nice.

    She puts forward the key issue of QMV in Lisbon which is not how the system works, but that the issues being put under QMV are issues one feels should be allowed to be shared among the EU or should be kept firmly in national hands (not just Ireland).

    Issues like the election of the president of the european council the statute of the european system of cental banks, measures in the field of culture, Definition of the tasks and objectives of the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund.

    This are the issues moving to QMV. Of the 50 only 36 will apply to Ireland from the offset unless the unlikely scenario described by Futuretaioseach of the Dail and Seanad voting in favour of dissolving the opt out comes to pass.


    36 issues one needs to consider when voting, if none of these issues feel like an area necessary to be kept under strict control then why oppose the move.

    The only justiable position is the principal of soveriegnty, which is one I respect but disagree with. If you feel Ireland should have complete control over its own laws and not take part in any QMV, then one should consider pushing for a complete withdrawel from the EU and perhaps join the EFTA. It is a matter to discuss and consider.


    But precedent has shown that opposition to the previous Lisbon treaty did not represent such a will in the people of Ireland as support for EU membership remains, the parties and groups opposing Lisbon neither have shown a majority opposed to departure from the EU.

    So the question is if QMV was not an issue until now, what has changed what in these 36 new areas has stepped over the line.

    The list is freely available http://ec.europa.eu/ireland/lisbon_treaty/questions_and_answers/new_cases_of_qmv.pdf


  • #2


    I just wanted to end this with a quick explanation of why I am voting yes.

    I have read the lisbon treaty, and there are negatives, mostly in the aspect that it doesnt go far enough in some areas

    But it is a step in the right diretion in my opinion. Subsidary, despite FutureTaoiseach's rubishing of it in his opening is something good as is the citizens initiative. They may not be the most enforcable of additions in that neither can take control of the direction of the EU nor are required to be followed. But the EU has primarily worked on concesus and it is rare in its history where a member state has been forced down specific routes with them. What has not been rare though is the EU being used as an excuse by the Irish government (and others) for when they pass unpopular decisions. With subsidary all EU decisions will be put to the national parliaments for a peiod. This is putting pressure where it should be put, on the national governments.


    As someone who has never supported Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael I have often felt disenfranchised that 3 out o the 4 institutes of the EU are directly influenced or control by the govenment party relying on the European Parliament which until Lisbon was much weaker then the other institutions would often make me feel like I have a different ideology to that of the EU. But with subsidary the actions of the government party in those other institutions will now be addressed directly in our own Dail and not kept away in Brussals I personnally see this as the opposite to the notion that Lisbon centralises power in Brussals, instead it is bringing the issues of Brussals out to the national parliaments of every member states.

    On the citizens initiative, Yes it is not possible to force in a law via this route. But with a thresehold set so small, 1 million (a quarter of ireland's pop) then allowing the initiative too much legal personality could result in a serious danger to the national governments of each member state. But as a line of direct communication to the Commission it is a benefit and will hopefully be put to great use by the numerous trade unions with links across the EU. Remember the Commission is required to respond, they may not act on it, but they may respond. Equally it allows areas that the EU has had no influence on to bring attention to themselves. Consider for example a really small sport like Paintball, less then a 100 members in Ireland, but just over a million when all of the EU is taken into account. It sufers legal issues in a number of member states (Ireland included) mostly to do with the marker's being put in the same catagory as firearms. The citizen's initiative combined with Lisbon's support for encoruging pan european sporting events and cultures would allow the governing body of paintball to have the EU help with the sports growth.


    Thank you.

    Connla Lyons.


  • #2


    In this post I hope to break down the major point of concern regarding Lisbon treaty and explain in simple terms why the No vote is imperative for all Irish voters. I will try and keep it light and easy to read, I've purposely omitted large quotes and too many figures, as information dump can make it hard to read

    These subjects are
    1) Control
    2) Recession and recovery
    3) European effects


    1)Control
    To everyone still unsure about the Lisbon Treaty the most simplistic answer I can give is this "Lisbon is a surrender of control to the European Union"

    Lisbon = Less control

    There is no circumstance or situation where the Irish government would have more control of an Irish matter by ratifying the treaty which surpasses the control we currently have. We allow decisions to be made on a European basis, far away from the concerns and motivations of common Irish citizens.

    This second Lisbon treaty is the EXACT same as the original defeated Lisbon treaty, not a word has been changed. To sway the vote this time we have "Legally Binding Agreements" which I'm sure you've already heard about. I have to ask, If these promises are so great why weren't they placed into the Lisbon treaty itself? I'm also concerned that they are legally binding to what? The Irish constitution? Well the European Constitution, if Lisbon treaty is ratified, will over rule that leaving our promises worthless. So are these agreements binded by the European constitution, maybe but that's subject to change beyond our control.

    These agreements remind me of some very similar agreements made by Adolf Hitler in the 1930's. He promised he wouldn't invade Poland and there would be "Peace in our time". I'm sure he said they were legally binding agreements too.
    If someone quotes Godwin's Law at me please get out, it's a very similar and apt parallel between the two and I feel it's something we should recognize.

    Another point made by the Yes campaign is the we will have an EU Commissioner to protect our Irish interests.
    Counter point - WE ALREADY HAVE AN EU COMMISSIONER.

    it's like saying "At least that didn't take our microwave" after everything else in your house has been stolen. We've had a EU Commissioner from that start. In some posters the yes campaign states we will GAIN a commissioner which is an outright lie. At the moment we have quite a proportionally big voice in Europe. Why give that away?

    Another folly of the Lisbon treaty is surrendering our Veto power. Simply explained if mammary glands are inclined upwards against Irish interests in the EU parliament, we can lay down our veto and stop the movement. If however we lose that, due to Lisbon, other countries with much larger voting power can bully us into a bad position.

    2)Recession and Recovery
    This is one point that is possibly the most crucial and influential to voters. Also it's the only one where the yes side is correct. Voting yes to Lisbon may help get us out recession. Will it it a major or minor influence is yet unknown but the statement is true......in the same way that selling your son and daughter into slavery will help pay off your mortgage. It is true but not the best option. With every gain there is a loss and in my view the loss well out weigh any gains.


    The Lisbon treaty and EU constitution remove workers rights, allowing larger business to make more profits and hopefully that increase trade and re investment stabilizing the economy. Then ask yourself what is the benefit of a stable economy when your rights as a person and worker have been compromised.

    As an already mentioned example the Irish fisheries in west of Ireland will suffer almost certain collapse if the treaty is put through. Countries like Spain, Sweden and other large Atlantic fishing countries will be able to move in on the "Irish Box", an area of Atlantic ocean reserved for Irish fishing vessels at the moment. the economic repercussions this will cause to the Irish economy far out weigh any benefit.

    3) European effects

    The ratification of this treaty will not only effect Ireland but every single person in the EU. The Lisbon Treaty will establish the rejected European constitution in countries like France and Netherlands where it has huge unpopularity around 95%. In essence also wiping out democracy in Europe, as the will of the people through ballots has been rejected.

    REMEMBER WE CANNOT BE PUNISHED FOR REJECTING THE LISBON TREATY

    The President of Czech Republic Václav Klaus has stated he will not sign the Lisbon Treaty if Ireland reject it a second time. We are now voting on behalf of roughly 830.4 million Europeans. In most studies they would reject overwhelmingly.

    We have a chance, unlike many other countries, to voice our opinion and say what we want our Europe to be, and importantly not be. The way forward is VOTE NO.
    For democracy in Europe Vote NO


  • #2


    Blitzkrieg wrote:
    I request only clarification, as your initial response failed to clarify on how the european courts will be * interpreting the Charter including Article 51 as it sees fit. * when the same treaty and article that establish the charter's legal power also specify that it must be interpeted as per the provesions outline in title VII of the charter.

    This does not make article 51 and article 53 simply two of many articles in the charter, it makes them the articles that enforce the type of legal status that the treaty grants the charter.

    The mistake here is applying malicous intent to the court of justice, that they will intention try to work around what has been stated by both the treaties and the charte itself.
    You know well Blitzkrieg that as Article 6 TEU is gives the Charter "the same legal-value as the Treaties", that Title VII of the Charter is therefore subject to the interpretation of the ECJ. They will decide how it is interpreted in practice, and the extent to which Title VII limits their jurisdiction. I am aware that Article 51 states that the rights in the Charter only apply to national governments when they are implement European law. But the Charter itself will be European law under Article 6 TEU:
    The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
    Under Paragraph 6 of the referendum-wording (28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009), and indeed under the existing Article 29.4.10 of the Irish Constitution, EU law supersedes Irish law and the Irish Constitution:
    No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State, before, on or after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, that are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union referred to in subsection 5° of this section or of the European Atomic Energy 10
    Community, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures
    adopted by—

    i the said European Union or the European Atomic Energy
    Community, or by institutions thereof,
    ii the European Communities or European Union existing 15
    immediately before the entry into force of the Treaty of
    Lisbon, or by institutions thereof, or
    iii bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this
    section, from having the force of law in the State.

    Article 51, on the applicability of the Charter to EU institutions and member states, says:
    1. The provisions of this Charter are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. They shall therefore respect the rights, observe the principles and promote the application thereof in accordance with their respective powers and respecting the limits of the powers of the Union as conferred on it in the Treaties.
    2. The Charter does not extend the field of application of Union law beyond the powers of the Union or establish any new power or task for the Union, or modify powers and tasks as defined in the Treaties.
    The following is what Article 52 of the Charter says:
    1. Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
    2. Rights recognised by this Charter for which provision is made in the Treaties shall be exercised under the conditions and within the limits defined by those Treaties.
    3. In so far as this Charter contains rights which correspond to rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights shall be the same as those laid down by the said Convention. This provision shall not prevent Union law providing more extensive protection.
    4. In so far as this Charter recognises fundamental rights as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, those rights shall be interpreted in harmony with those
    traditions.
    14.12.2007 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 303/13
    5. The provisions of this Charter which contain principles may be implemented by legislative and executive acts taken by institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, and by acts of Member States when they are implementing Union law, in the exercise of their respective powers. They shall be judicially cognisable only in the interpretation of such acts and in the ruling on their legality.
    6. Full account shall be taken of national laws and practices as specified in this Charter.
    7. The explanations drawn up as a way of providing guidance in the interpretation of this Charter shall be given due regard by the courts of the Union and of the Member States.
    Much of the wording of Article 52 is couched in general terms, and judges love general terms, because it increases their power. In a context where the meaning of a legal-text is unclear, the judges step in to decide what it means. In particular, I am talking about this kind of language:
    wrote:
    limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
    Who will decide whether such limitations "are necessary are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others"? The ECJ does, because under Article 6 TEU the Charter has "the same legal value as the Treaties" and the ECJ has the final authority to interpret the Treaties. Thus, it will be for the ECJ to decide what this terminology means. I am not prepared to trust the ECJ with the tools the Charter gives them, in part because of their record of unconventional interpretation of EU law over the years.
    Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by international agreements to which the Union or all the Member States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States' constitutions.
    Let me give an example of why such terminology fails to reassure me. The ECJ has already given us a window into how the Charter will be interpreted by reference to Article 28 in the Viking judgement where it stated that the "right to collective bargaining" might be restricted, and that Article 28 actually acknowledged that fact:
    Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action.
    The shipping line Viking runs ferry services between Finland and Estonia under the Finnish flag. The company’s management decided to re-flag their ferries - using the Estonian flag, and to employ Estonian labour in order to take advantage of the fact that wages are lower in Estonia. In response, the Finnish Seamen’s Union (FSU) warned the company Viking that they might take collective action to stop the re-flagging process. To avoid the danger of being undercut, it also asked the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) under its “Flag of conveniences campaign” to ask their members not to start negotiations with Viking unless they were based in Finland. According to this campaign, the ITF affiliates agreed that only trade unions established in the state of beneficial ownership should have the right to conclude collective agreements covering the vessel concerned. This is a crucial point to understand: The Charter of Fundamental Rights will not improve the working-conditions of Irish or migrant workers. The ECJ has already made its views known on this matter through this ruling. Article 43 of the existing TEC
    2. The right to take collective action, including the right to strike, is recognised both by various international instruments which the Member States have signed or cooperated in, such as the European Social Charter, to which, moreover, express reference is made in Article 136 EC, and Convention No 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, adopted in 1948 by the International Labour Organisation, and by instruments developed by those Member States at Community level or in the context of the European Union, such as the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers adopted in 1989, which is also referred to in Article 136 EC, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
    Although that right, including the right to strike, must therefore be recognised as a fundamental right which forms an integral part of the general principles of Community law the observance of which the Court ensures, the exercise of that right may none the less be subject to certain restrictions. As is reaffirmed by Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, it is to be protected in accordance with Community law and national law and practices.
    In that regard, even if the protection of fundamental rights is a legitimate interest which, in principle, justifies a restriction of the obligations imposed by Community law, even under a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Treaty, the exercise such rights
    does not fall outside the scope of the provisions of the Treaty and must be reconciled with the requirements relating to rights protected under the Treaty and in accordance with the principle of proportionality.
    It follows that the fundamental nature of the right to take collective action is not such as to render Article 43 EC inapplicable to such an action, initiated against an undertaking in order to induce that undertaking to enter into a collective agreement, the terms of which are liable to deter it from exercising freedom of establishment.
    (see paras 43-47)
    3. Article 43 EC is such as to confer rights on a private undertaking which may be relied on against a trade union or an association of trade unions.
    The abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons and freedom to provide services would be compromised if the abolition of State barriers could be neutralised by obstacles resulting from the exercise, by associations or organisations not governed by public law, of their legal autonomy. Moreover, the fact that certain provisions of the Treaty are formally addressed to the Member States does not prevent rights from being conferred at the same time on any individual who has an interest in compliance with the obligations thus laid down. Furthermore, the prohibition on prejudicing a fundamental freedom laid down in a provision of the Treaty that is mandatory in nature applies in particular to all agreements intended to regulate paid labour collectively.
    (see paras 57-58, 66, operative part 2)
    4. Article 43 EC is to be interpreted to the effect that collective actions which seek to induce a private undertaking whose registered office is in a given Member State to enter into a collective work agreement with a trade union established in that State and to apply the terms set out in that agreement to the employees of a subsidiary of that undertaking established in another Member State, constitute restrictions within the meaning of that article.
    Such collective action has the effect of making less attractive, or even pointless, the exercise by an undertaking of its right to freedom of establishment, in asmuch as it prevents that undertaking from enjoying the same treatment in the host Member State as other economic operators established in that State. Similarly, such collective action, seeking to prevent shipowners from registering their vessels in a State other than that of which the beneficial owners of those vessels are nationals, must be considered to be at least liable to restrict an undertaking’s exercise of its right of freedom of establishment.
    Those restrictions may, in principle, be justified by an overriding reason of public interest, such as the protection of workers, provided that it is established that the restriction is suitable for ensuring the attainment of the legitimate objective pursued and does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve that objective.
    In this context, it is useful to compare Article 43 TEC at present, with its renumbered form i.e. Article 49 TFEU:
    Within the framework of the provisions set out below, restrictions on the freedom of establishment of nationals of a Member State in the territory of another Member State shall be prohibited. Such prohibition shall also apply to restrictions on the setting-up of agencies, branches or subsidiaries by nationals of any Member State established in the territory of any Member State. Freedom of establishment shall include the right to take up and pursue activities as self-employed persons and to set up and manage undertakings, in particular companies or firms within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 48, under the conditions laid down for its own nationals by the law of the country where such establishment is effected, subject to the provisions of the Chapter relating to capital.
    Within the framework of the provisions set out below, restrictions on the freedom of establishment of nationals of a Member State in the territory of another Member State shall be prohibited. Such prohibition shall also apply to restrictions on the setting-up of agencies, branches or subsidiaries by nationals of any Member State established in the territory of any Member State. Freedom of establishment shall include the right to take up and pursue activities as self-employed persons and to set up and manage undertakings, in particular companies or firms within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54, under the conditions laid down for its own nationals by the law of the country where such establishment is effected, subject to the provisions of the Chapter relating to capital.
    It is my firm contention then, that because of the reference to Article 28 of the Charter by the ECJ, that we have an window into how the ECJ is likely to interpret the 'rights' of workers contained in the Charter i.e. to interpret them as secondary to the right of freedom of Establishment. In the aforementioned respects, and taking account of the Ruffert judgement I mentioned in a previous post, it is clear that where worker's rights and freedom of establishment clash, the latter, and the consequent right of unscrupulous businesses to exploit migrant labour will take precedence. The qualifications contained on the right to collective-bargaining in Article 28 of the Charter leave no room for doubt in that respect, for the objective observer.

    The ECJ is in the fortunate position of being both hunter and gamekeeper where determining its jurisdiction is concerned. It can decide what the Charter means, and what the parameters of its jurisdiction set down in Articles 51/2/3 governing its scope mean. Articles 51/2/3 are also part of the Charter, and the Charter is part of EU law "with the same legal-value as the Treaties". In that context I am unpersuaded by your argument that somehow the extent to which the ECJ may intrude on national issues is restricted in a meaningful way in those Articles. The ECJ is the final authority on the Treaties. Article 6 TEU as amended by Lisbon states that the Charter shall have "the same legal-value as the Treaties". Therefore, the ECJ is the final authority on what the Charter - including the paremeters determining its applicability - mean.

    Why do I distrust the ECJ with respect to interpretation of the Charter? Because it is a history of encroaching on the sovereignty of member states and retrospectively new competences for the EU not explicitly contained within the Treaties. How can we be sure that they will not behave in kind with respect to interpreting the Charter? Claiming the Charter won't create any 'new power' for the Union will not prevent the ECJ doing what it has a tendency to do - namely retrospectively declaring new competences (such as criminal-penalties in 2005) based on it's interpretations of the Treaties despite the absence of relevance to the specifics it is claiming the EU has a competence in? Claiming a competence is 'already there', based on the ECJ reading between the lines of existing Treaties, will not be protected against by Article 51 of the Charter. Examples of recent rulings where the ECJ has engaged in "competence creep" include the German http://euobserver.com/9/26712"]Mangold case[/URL] (see report on criticism here) positive age-discrimination on restrictions on employment contracts,, a case in 2005 where the ECJ ruled that the EU had a competence in the area of criminal-penalties, despite the European Parliament and the Council disagreeing with this, and a case where an Austrian cap on foreign-students was struck down, despite education not being an EU competence:
    The European Court of Justice needs to be stopped from undermining national jurisdiction, former German President Roman Herzog and Lüder Gerken, the director of the Centre for European Policy, have warned in a comment published by the EUobserver.

    The sharp words come in the wake of similar arguments coming from Denmark and Austria accusing the court of stepping beyond its bounds.

    Several cases analysed by Mr Herzog prove, in his view, that the European Court of Justice "systematically ignores fundamental principles of the Western interpretation of law", that it "ignores the will of the legislator, or even turns it into its opposite" and "invents legal principles serving as grounds for later judgements". One key judgement, known as the Mangold case, is set to be analysed by the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe and will set the tone for future relations between the ECJ and national courts, writes Mr Herzog.

    Mr Mangold, a 56-year-old lawyer, was employed in June 2003 on a permanent contract, in compliance with a temporary provision to the German labour law, which lowered the minimum age for temporary contracts from 58 to 52 years, in an attempt to encourage employers to hire more older workers.

    Mr Mangold argued that this particular piece of German legislation contravened the principles within the EU's Equal Treatment Framework Directive adopted in 2000, as it was clearly age discriminatory.

    The ECJ ruled in November 2005 that the provisions of the German labour market reform were indeed infringing the directive, although it accepted that member states still had until December 2006 to transpose it into national law.

    However, according to the ECJ ruling, in the period leading up to the transposition of the directive, member states "must refrain from taking any measures liable to seriously compromise the attainment of the result prescribed by that directive."

    Mr Herzog argues however that both labour market policy and social policy are under the jurisdiction - or in Brussels jargon - 'core competences' of the member states: "This case clearly demonstrates to what extent EU regulation and EU jurisdiction nevertheless interfere in the governing of these core competences."

    In order to justify its judgement, the ECJ also resorted to a "somewhat adventurous construction", that a ban on age discrimination was included in the "constitutional traditions common to the member states" and "various international treaties", notes the former German president.

    However, this was a "fabrication", he believes, as only in two of the then 25 member states - Finland and Portugal - was there any reference to a ban on age discrimination, and no international treaty mentions this at all.

    "To put it bluntly, with this construction, which the ECJ more or less pulled out of a hat, they were acting not as part of the judicial power but as the legislature," he says.

    The former German president proposes the setting up of an independent EU court to deal with competence questions, since the ECJ is "not appropriate" to watch over the subsidiarity principle and the matters of member states.

    "The ECJ was created with the aim of providing a arbitrator to mediate in the interests of the EU and those of the member states," but on the other hand, it is bound by the EU Treaty to act towards achieving a closer Union, and therefore it is "no wonder" it overrides national competences, he argues.

    Thus, he says, it is necessary for the German Constitutional Court to reject the ruling in the Mangold case, and to "restrain" the ECJ, otherwise it will be much more difficult to control the ECJ in the future.

    Court under fire in Denmark, Austria

    Mr Herzog's comments come amid growing frustration amongst Danish leaders that a ruling by the court regarding Irish legislation covering the residency rights of non-EU citizens who are spouses of citizens, is having a knock-on effect on similar Danish legislation.

    In July, Ralf Pittelkow, an adviser to former Social Democratic Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, used language similar to that of Mr Herzog to describe the court.

    "The judges are crafting a lot of policies because the politicians allow them the margin to do so," he said, writing in the Jyllands-Posten. "Political decisions that ought to be the responsibility of elected representatives are left with the court."

    In 2006, former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel also attacked the European Court of Justice after it forced Austrian universities to open its doors to more foreign students, arguing that the court was interfering in education, "a clear national competence," he said at the time.

    I also wish to bring up a new danger from the Lisbon Treaty - that of the creation of a European legal-system that will override that of Ireland. The Lisbon Treaty provides for the creation of an office of European Public Prosecutor, by unanimity on the Council. It also provides for the establishment of "specialised courts" which will override those of Ireland. The Government claims we have an optout on Justice and Home Affairs. However, in Paragraph 7 of the referendum-wording, the Government is providing itself and the Oireachtas with the power to abolish that optout without a referendum. That would mean Qualified Majority Voting on Justice and Home Affairs. Specifically, it would mean QMV imposing laws on Ireland in the areas of : Asylum , Border checks, * Immigration, Incentive measures in the field of crime prevention, Eurojust – structure, operation, field of action and tasks, Europol – structure, operation, field of action and tasks .[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    1. In order to combat crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union, the Council, by means of regulations adopted in accordance with a special legislative procedure, may establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office from Eurojust. The Council shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.In the absence of unanimity in the Council, a group of at least nine Member States may request that the draft regulation be referred to the European Council. In that case, the procedure in the Council shall be suspended. After discussion, and in case of a consensus, the European Council shall, within four months of this suspension, refer the draft back to the Council for adoption.
    Within the same timeframe, in case of disagreement, and if at least nine Member States wish to establish enhanced cooperation on the basis of the draft regulation concerned, they shall notify the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission accordingly. In such a case, the authorisation to proceed with enhanced cooperation referred to in Article 20(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 329(1) of this Treaty shall be deemed to be granted and the provisions on enhanced cooperation shall apply.

    2. The European Public Prosecutor's Office shall be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, where appropriate in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union's financial interests, as determined by the regulation provided for in paragraph 1. It shall exercise the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences.

    3. The regulations referred to in paragraph 1 shall determine the general rules applicable to the European Public Prosecutor's Office, the conditions governing the performance of its functions, the rules of procedure applicable to its activities, as well as those governing the admissibility of evidence, and the rules applicable to the judicial review of procedural measures taken by it in the performance of its functions.

    4. The European Council may, at the same time or subsequently, adopt a decision amending paragraph 1 in order to extend the powers of the European Public Prosecutor's Office to include serious crime having a cross-border dimension and amending accordingly paragraph 2 as regards the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, serious crimes affecting more than one Member State. The European Council shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament and after consulting the Commission.
    This will lead to Irish citizens being tried in EU courts for matters that the Irish people may not want to become crimes under Irish law. The abolition of the vetoes under Paragraph 7(iii) of the referendum-wording (28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009) allowing for the Government/Oireachtas to abolish the optout Protocol 21 will pave the way for foreign governments, the Commission and the European Parliament, forcing changes in Irish criminal law, including on sentencing and the criminal-code, that the Irish people and Government may not agree with. In spite of the fact that the Irish people and government may not approve of such a criminal-code, the European Public Prosecutor's office will have the power to prosecute them. This is unacceptable and represents foreign, colonial rule in this country over our justice-system, which until Lisbon had remained relatively free of intrusion from the EU institutions. A country that doesn't even control its own justice policy is more a province than a nation once again.
    The State may exercise the options or discretions—
    i to which Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union relating to enhanced cooperation applies,
    ii under Protocol No. 19 on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the European Union annexed to that treaty and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly known as the Treaty establishing the European Community), and
    iii under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, so annexed, including the option that the said Protocol No. 21 shall, in whole or in part, cease to apply to the State, but any such exercise shall be subject to the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas.


  • #2


    In response to BlitzKrieg's point:

    I do not believe there is nothing good about the Lisbon Treaty.

    Indeed, I believe that there are many things that are positive.

    Almost all of these positive aspects are founded upon the greater competencies of the EU Parliament - and I need not do my opponents' job by listing these individually. Also, the transparency of the EU is vastly improved (seeing that its decision making is almost entirely opaque as of the moment).

    This does indeed sound encouraging.

    But the EU Parliament is still the weakest parliament in Europe - possessing absolutely no powers of legislative initiative. Not only this, but the strength and range of the competencies of the Consilium and Commission are themselves extended through Lisbon. Although the Commission is still unelected by the people, their selection by individual states is now subject to a vote in the Consilium by QMV, and approval by the new position of EU President of the Council (who is also not subject to direct election).

    If you wished that the laws on, let's-say, paintball should be changed - should this be a decision subject to your national executive, or supranational executive? What makes you believe the fact that a law originates from a non-directly elected body makes it more likely to fit your particular preferences? Because the decision of your national executive might be overturned as per Article 4(2C)? As I have said before, what capacity can you exert if you do not approve of this supranational legislation? Write to the Commission in protest as per the Citizens' Initiative?

    I have chosen not to get bogged down in the details of the treaty - because its interpretations are extremely subjective. And what use is it for me, or you to interpret, for instance in terms of the divisive EDA; that respect of individual states' national outlook will mean that Ireland does not have to - indeed, will not partake in its provisions hitherto set out - when our interpretation has not the slightest significance in the manner in which the EU itself interprets the legal ramifications of it. I am only throwing the EDA out as an example - as I said I didn't want to get bogged down in the nitty gritty, and I don't personally care about neutrality (although I know many of the electorate do).

    But why is it there in the first place?

    Why is there going to be a unified foreign policy embodied in the High Representative, who indeed will represent us (as European citizens) in the UN?

    Why are the 'no' and 'yes' campaigners banging on about the details of a unified peace-keeping or military role for the EU? Why should there be a unified peacekeeping or military role for the EU in the first place? Surely this is the point of the UN, or NATO, both of which are divorced from the laws of any of its member states - for international cooperation on humanitarian or militaristic grounds?

    I have heard that the EU Parliament should not be granted legislative initiative due to the fact that the largest countries would have the greatest influence (I have also heard arguments against it in terms of the ignorance of the electorate, but we will let those pass).

    And yes, this is true. We, Europeans, are not one nation. I do not say 'Ich bin European' - I believe myself to be an Irish man first and foremost, and subject to the laws of my government. I will repeat that - my government. Yes, the Irish parliamentary process is far from perfect and nowhere near entirely democratic - but that is a damn sight better than having laws which are internal to each member state written within the framework of a supranational body that has the powers of a state, yet without the accountability of a democracy.

    And I will not predict that the EU will legislate for conscripted armies, or reduce the minimum wage, or force abortions upon us. Those policies are far too specific in terms of hypothetical legislation, and are also combated by safeguards, at the moment.

    Nor will I say that the EU has been bad for Ireland. It hasn't. But hasn't the manner in which it has been good been founded entirely upon the 1st pillar of the EU; the concepts of free-trade and monetary unity and economic development?

    Why should we direct the EU into new areas, areas into which we will have almost no say.

    I do not want a High Representative who has not received a single Irish vote speaking for Irish people.

    And it this reason, among countless others, why I shall be voting no.

    Thank you.


  • #2


    Under Paragraph 7(iii) of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009 (referendum legislation), the Government/Oireachtas will have the power to abolish the optout Protocol 21 on Justice and Home Affairs, meaning that if they use this power to abolish it outright, Qualified Majority Voting will determine our asylum and immigration laws. Here are provisions of the TFEU as amended by the Lisbon Treaty introducing Qualified Majority Voting on asylum and immigration. Note Article 78(3) TFEU and it's clear hints at burden-sharing of asylum-seekers from member states experiencing a large-influx. Note that in the Lisbon Treaty, the term "ordinary legislative procedure" means Qualified Majority Voting. That could force Ireland to take other member state's asylum-seekers:
    1. The Union shall develop a common policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection with a view to offering appropriate status to any third-country national requiring international protection and ensuring compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. This policy must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees, and other relevant treaties.
    2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt measures for a common European asylum system comprising:
    (a) a uniform status of asylum for nationals of third countries, valid throughout the Union;
    (b) a uniform status of subsidiary protection for nationals of third countries who, without obtaining European asylum, are in need of international protection;
    (c) a common system of temporary protection for displaced persons in the event of a massive inflow;
    (d) common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of uniform asylum or subsidiary protection status;
    (e) criteria and mechanisms for determining which Member State is responsible for considering an application for asylum or subsidiary protection;

    6655/1/08 REV 1 101
    EN
    (f) standards concerning the conditions for the reception of applicants for asylum or subsidiary protection;
    (g) partnership and cooperation with third countries for the purpose of managing inflows of people applying for asylum or subsidiary or temporary protection.

    3. In the event of one or more Member States being confronted by an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State(s) concerned. It shall act after consulting the European Parliament.
    1. The Union shall develop a common immigration policy aimed at ensuring, at all stages, the efficient management of migration flows, fair treatment of third-country nationals residing legally in Member States, and the prevention of, and enhanced measures to combat, illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.
    2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt measures in the following areas:
    (a) the conditions of entry and residence, and standards on the issue by Member States of long-term visas and residence permits, including those for the purpose of family reunification;
    (b) the definition of the rights of third-country nationals residing legally in a Member State, including the conditions governing freedom of movement and of residence in other Member States;
    (c) illegal immigration and unauthorised residence, including removal and repatriation of persons residing without authorisation;
    (d) combating trafficking in persons, in particular women and children.
    6655/1/08 REV 1 102
    EN
    3. The Union may conclude agreements with third countries for the readmission to their countries of origin or provenance of third-country nationals who do not or who no longer fulfil the conditions for entry, presence or residence in the territory of one of the Member States.
    4. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may establish measures to provide incentives and support for the action of Member States with a view to promoting the integration of third-country nationals residing legally in their territories, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.
    5. This Article shall not affect the right of Member States to determine volumes of admission of third-country nationals coming from third countries to their territory in order to seek work, whether employed or self-employed.
    In the context of Article 79(5), note that "third-country nationals" refers to legal immigrants entitled to be in the EEA to seek work.

    Lisbon also encourages welfare tourism by abolishing (not subject to any optout) the veto on freedom of movment and social welfare entitlements of workers in EU member states:
    The European Parliament and the Council shall, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, adopt such measures in the field of social security as are necessary to provide freedom of movement for workers; to this end, they shall make arrangements to secure for employed and self-employed migrant workers and their dependants: (a) aggregation, for the purpose of acquiring and retaining the right to benefit and of calculating the amount of benefit, of all periods taken into account under the laws of the several countries;
    (b) payment of benefits to persons resident in the territories of Member States.
    Where a member of the Council declares that a draft legislative act referred to in the first subparagraph would affect important aspects of its social security system, including its scope, cost or financial structure, or would affect the financial balance of that system, it may request that the matter be referred to the European Council. In that case, the ordinary legislative procedure shall be suspended. After discussion, the European Council shall, within four months of this suspension, either:
    (a) refer the draft back to the Council, which shall terminate the suspension of the ordinary legislative procedure; or
    (b) take no action or request the Commission to submit a new proposal; in that case, the act originally proposed shall be deemed not to have been adopted.

    This underlines a reason for voting no to Lisbon - namely - the race to the bottom and the use of the Treaty to increase the availability of cheap labour for corporate-interests that are benefactors of political-parties. Vote no and protect Irish jobs.


  • #2


    BlitzKrieg wrote: »
    On the issue of fishing

    Is there a source for the 200 billion lost in fishing?

    Cause the killbegs fishing organisation has come out in favour of Lisbon http://www.independent.ie/national-news/lisbon-treaty/in-brief-fishing-groups-at-odds-over-treaty-1894954.html


    And from inshore ireland and www.seaaroundus.org the total value of fish taken from irish waters since 1950 has been 12 billion. Only 8.4 billion during our time as part of the EU.

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/hmgj5n2mrik/0108FJ4_07N.pdf

    It is important to consider that the fishing industry in Ireland has improved more so under the EU that beore joining the EU the value of fish caught by Irish fisherman was substantialy less then the UK, since our membership our catch is now almost double.




    I never put a figure on the value of our waters (as it is near impossible as a lot of the catch from foreign boats never see the light of day)

    also the damage to our fish stocks has impacted on our angling tourism

    eg

    competitions ran on the east coast of Ireland used to attract over 250 angler quite a few from abroad in the 80s and 90s

    now with the beaches more barren its lucky if a competion gets 50 and no one travels any more:mad:

    the E.U has a hunt and destroy attitude to our waters once they are gone the nordic waters will be next


    Also if our catch is up then why are prices so high?

    the reason is that the fish from our waters end up in mainland europe and further afield

    How can we allow the E.U to further damage our fisheries

    NO to lisbon


  • #2


    To end my part in this debate

    Many thanks for allowing myself to take part sadly over the last week work and my internet at home have prevented me from giving 100%

    A big thank you to my associates in the no camp well done on your effort no matter what happens now

    Thanks also to the yes camp for there efforts and to the judges of this debate

    Until our last lisbon vote was made a mockary off by our government and europe i never got involved in political discussion and just like my religon i kept my beliefs to myself while respecting others



    But for me now enough is enough

    I will tommorow enter the voting booth and place my x beside the NO option this will come about from my beliefs of this treaty as giving europe too much power over our own constitution.

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."


    "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"


    • We cannot be punished for voting no
    • our markets will suffer more in the agriculture and fisheries from a yes vote
    • This is a vote on the lisbon treaty not our political parties
    • this 2nd referendum is undemocratic the treaty is unchanged
    I do believe in the E.U my no vote is not anti europe it is anti lisbon. Lets go back to the drawing board and put the next treaty to all citizens of the Eu







    VOTE NO ON OCT 2ND


  • #2


    My apologies for coming late to the debate - real life, and paid work, intervened.

    First, let me deal with the issue raised by RandomName2, and which provides a sort of backdrop to many other arguments - that the EU is "only really intended to be economic".

    This is historically inaccurate. The goal of the EU and all its predecessors has been the same - "ever closer union" between the peoples of Europe. Not some kind of single state Europe, but literally everyone in Europe getting closer to their neighbours. There is no intention to make everyone live in one vast communal dormitory, or even abolish our separate houses - the intention is only that we should feel as comfortable in our neighbour's house as in our own. The EU is not some kind of totalitarian, or even necessarily federal project, but exactly what it says on the tin - a gigantic exercise in trying to help Europeans treat each other as neighbours.

    The alternative, historically, has been the division of Europe into armed camps, and piles of smoking corpses measuring in the millions. Even today, even when the success of the European project has produced generations who have virtually no conception of European war, the alternative to the EU remains that division into competitive national entities, with all that that entails. A mere free trade area will not accomplish anything in terms of making us neighbourly, any more than it has in NAFTA.

    The starting point of the EU was overtly political - the ECSC controlled coal and steel, because those were then the sinews of war - by sharing control over them, the six nations involved gave up their ability to stockpile against each other, and thereby much of their ability to engage in a renewed arms race against each other - an overtly political goal. Indeed, the most overtly political claims and visions come from that period, so one can hardly claim that the EU started off economic. Clearly it started off political.

    Throughout its history, the EU has remained political. The creation of, first, the customs union, and then the common market, weren't undertaken because the remit of the EU was economic - they were undertaken because they would bring Europe closer together, by making it easier for Europeans to live, move, work, and do business with each other inside the EU, and thereby disarm the easily-inflamed suspicions and national tensions. Ever closer union - not a federal state, but simply a case of getting to know each other better. Again, this is something the EU has done so well that we take it for granted, and are in danger of forgetting how and why it came about. Free movement, and the right to live and work anywhere in Europe, aren't economic goals, but political and social ones - they serve the purpose of ever closer union, not of some kind of European Free Trade Area.

    The economic tools were those that were first used to bring Europe closer together, because those tools were the least contentious, and the benefits easily measured in hard cash. The result has been a huge increase in prosperity for Europe, but that wasn't the reason it was done - if that had been the case, it could have been done at any time. It wasn't, because there was no political will to cooperate, no political will to work together.

    In conclusion to that section, it should be clear that the EU's remit has never been purely economic. In turn, many of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens - the right of free movement, free establishment, and so on, aren't economic either - there would be no need for them in a purely political union.


    To claim, therefore, that Lisbon represents some kind of sudden move into politics, or some kind of different union, is false. It is a continuation of the same process, for the same reasons - to bring Europeans together. It's a process that's already very well advanced, and each step of which has been voted on by the Irish people, and accepted - lest we forget that point.

    Throughout this process, the member states have been concerned to ensure that, while Europeans come closer together, the member states retain their individual identities, and that the member states remain, in the words of the German Constitutional Court "the masters of the treaties".

    To that end, the EU is essentially a framework for cooperation between the member states, rather than an entity in itself. The competences "the EU" has aren't powers pulled from the member states and handed over to an external body, but areas in which they will undertake to make decisions in common, rather than separately. That, in turn, is why EU law has precedence over national law - not because it is law laid down by a superior external entity, but because each law agreed in Europe is an international agreement in itself. If every party to an agreement can separately override an agreement, there is no agreement in any meaningful sense.

    Thus, the member states appoint the Commission, the member states vote on all the legislation - the EU is only the framework through which they act, a union established among the member states, exactly as it says in the preamble to the treaties.

    Naturally, as the EU has grown, agreement between all the states has become more and more difficult, particularly in areas where every member has a veto. Exactly the same process can be observed in any club or group - when it's small, it's possible to give everyone the right of absolute refusal, because the groups is close-knit. As it grows, some sort of majority system becomes more and more pressing, if the club is not simply to fall apart - and history is littered with the remains of international institutions that never took such a route, and never achieved anything before falling apart.

    So, as time has gone by, majority voting has become more common. It wouldn't have done so if the member states had found that majority voting regularly pushed them into accepting legislation they firmly opposed. The EU member states have found, instead, that majority voting has worked out alright - because membership of the union is voluntary, each member could walk away if membership entailed unacceptable obligations.

    So the reason Lisbon contains movement from unanimity to QMV is because QMV has been found to be alright, and unanimity to be problematic. If that weren't so, the member states wouldn't have written it into the treaties - because, again, it's the member states that write the treaties, not some external force. The fuss made over "losing vetoes" therefore misses the point. The people who make the fuss appear to blithely ignore the fact that Ireland wouldn't have accepted the writing into the Treaty of QMV moves unless they were happy that they weren't thereby losing anything.

    Even where QMV voting applies, there is very little voting - about 15-20% of legislation comes to a vote. The rest is adopted by consensus - if any member state is really opposed, the matter is usually shelved, because it's more important to have everyone's agreement than to produce any given piece of legislation.

    Voting weights, then, are largely irrelevant in the operation of the real EU, but they form a bone of contention in public debate because they are taken as proxy measures of a nation's influence - inaccurately, because it's not possible for any one nation to dominate the EU through its voting mechanisms - real influence is measured in alliances and goodwill.

    Despite that, QMV exists, and Lisbon changes the way it's calculated, and people find that exciting, so I'll briefly cover it. FutureTaoiseach inaccurately claims that population weight is used for the first time in Lisbon - that's wrong, as are the COIR and SF posters. Currently we have three voting weights - population (0.8%), membership (3.7%), and council votes (7/345 = 2.02%). Lisbon dispenses with the council votes, and uses only the first and last measure - so now we have two voting weights - population (0.8%) and membership (3.7%). The average of the three Nice weights is 2.17%, the average of the two Lisbon weights is 2.25%. They won't tell you that down Capel Street.

    The question is, then - why the change? The answer is that council votes aren't distributed by any formula, but arrived at through horse-trading, and everyone is sick of it. The new system doesn't drastically change anyone's voting weight, but does mean that any new accession, be it Croatia or Iceland, is immediately factored in.

    Several of the institutional changes in Lisbon are of that kind - intended to dispense with things that cause long bouts of tedious wrangling. They're not required for enlargement (there's no cap in Nice, as people apparently believe), but they do make it easier. When Sarkozy said "no enlargement without Lisbon", is statement was purely political - in other words "no more horse-trading" - a statement that would be set aside instantly if Iceland applied for membership, Lisbon or no Lisbon.

    Most of the rest of the changes in Lisbon are intended to address issues that were left unresolved in Nice. Nice was a hurried treaty, which is one reason why work started immediately on the next treaty - it was hurried because it was necessary to allow in Eastern Europe before it fell back into Russian orbit. The timing of Nice was dictated by Putin - before he began flexing Russia's muscles again, the candidacy of Eastern European countries was proceeding at the usual leisurely pace. After it became clear that Russia had got up off the floor, absorbing Eastern Europe became a priority.

    The result was a treaty that was absolutely necessary, but which gave the EU a huge case of indigestion - not really in institutional terms, but in terms of the "ever closer union". Ireland, in particular felt this, by virtue of dispensing with the period of restriction on free movement of accession state nationals. The resulting immigration has created in many a sense of unease with the whole EU project, which is borne out by the xenophobic subtext in many No campaigns, and the immigration concerns of many No voters.

    FutureTaoiseach has brought that up in relation to immigration policy and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which brings me neatly to the benefits of Lisbon, not least of which is the Charter. FutureTaoiseach consistently misapplies the Charter to national law, but in fact, it is a bill of rights for EU law only, and something that offers huge advantages to the citizen, because it makes it possible to challenge EU law (and only EU law) on the basis of stipulated and explicit rights, something currently not possible.

    Most of the rest of the changes in Lisbon are of this second type - addressing the balance of power between the citizen and the EU, increasing the powers of the citizen-elected Parliament (which is primarily a citizen watchdog body over both the Commission and the national governments operating in the EU), increasing the powers of national parliaments and the information made avaialble to them, increasing the transparency of the EU's workings, and making it possible for the citizens to put legislative demands directly on the European agenda.

    All of those things separately are not particularly powerful, but together they form a toolbox of reforms which offer a huge upgrade to citizen power and democratic input into the EU, and which go a long way to reducing the democratic deficit created by Nice. They form the backbone of the reason for my view that voting Yes is the better choice tomorrow purely on the Treaty itself.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


  • #2


    That's it, we have now crossed into Friday and the nation will go to the polls in a few hours.

    The judges will begin deliberation on the debate tonight and as I mentioned, we hope to have an answer for you at around lunch time tomorrow.

    I want to extend a big thanks to all our members who took part in the debate, it's been greatly appreciated.

    Remember, please exercise your right to vote if you're elligible, if you weren't sure how to vote before, we hope this debate has helped you make the decision either way.

    Thank you all for your time, I shall talk to you tomorrow with some results.

    Dav


This discussion has been closed.