Originally Posted by nesf
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_...ferendum,_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.