Damnit

By | May 12, 2008

They announced the Lisbon Treaty voting day for June 12th. I won’t be here to VOTE YES and counteract the No votes of the wilfully contrarian.

Can someone who was going to Vote No abstain please?

91 thoughts on “Damnit

  1. Pete

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WTF THE LISBON TREATY IS ALL ABOUT?

  2. Sarah Post author

    Here’s the deal: The EU is enlarging, so the old rules about decision making and some of the institutions don’t work so well any more. e.g vetos apply to practically everything; EVERY country is entitled to a commissioner; lots of people want to enable the EU to adopt a common position on criminal matters and foreign policy. There’s also more pressure to make the EU “more democratic” and really just work more efficiently.
    SO the Lisbon Treaty is a series of amendments to various treaties and institutions.
    For example: it means that every country within the EU will be entitled to a commissioner 10 years out of every 15. So EVERY country will be without a commissioner for 5 years. Now, on the one hand, this is a bit of a pain since we like having our man at the table. On the other hand, when commissioners are appointed their job is to represent the ENTIRE EU in a particular portfolio – so the competition commissioner works for competition throughout the EU. So while it is nice having a rep there, it doesn’t mean the commissioner negotiates on our behalf during various, em, negotiations. That’s what the Ministers do at the meetings of the Council of Europe.
    Opponents say that Ireland is now “less equal” than before under the new terms, but here’s the thing, when we first joined the EU, the bigger countries had two commissioners and smaller ones only one. That moved under a previous treaty to one each, and now it moves to EVERYONE giving up a commissioner for 1/3 of the time, so we will still be on equal terms with all other members. Its an example of one of compromises that ALL other countries agreed to so that we stop appointing commissioners like Junior Ministers – jobs for the sake of jobs.

    Some clarifications – the treaty has NOTHING to do with and will not effect
    – harmonisation of direct taxes
    – defence issues (triple lock still applies)
    – abortion
    – neutrality
    – agriculture negotiations at the WTO

    One thing I like about the treaty is that a prosecutor will be appointed to chase up fraud issues – which the EU could do little about til now.
    It also creates institutions and laws that will make prosecutions for drug and human trafficking across EU borders much easier. Badly needed.

    The people who are against Lisbon are either Sinn Fein types who have been against EVERYTHING to do with Europe, regardless of its positive influence on us or right wing business types like Declan Ganley and Ulick McEvaddy. e.g McEvaddy runs an airline business using old planes, which under EU environmental law will be banned or penalised or something because they don’t conform to modern emissions standards.

  3. betty

    One of my issues with Lisbon is that at present there is plenty of inefficiency and waste in the EU.With the enlarged Eu this will morph into corruption and fraud.The opening statement of Lisbon should hsve stated as a core principle that the highest standard of integrity and honour would be expected from elected and appointed officials and any deviations from this standard would be met with swift retribution. How can high standards be expected from say olive farmers or sheep farmers if the top level don’t give leadership by their high standards and earn the moral authority needed to police this enormous bloc. I fear the prosocuter will just chase fraud issues at local levels when Lisbon should have stated the core principle of honesty at all levels.Will pragmatism take precedence over honour.????

  4. Enf

    I will vote no purely because I don’t understand it and I won’t be forced into voting for pig in a poke out of fear.

    I will assert my democratic right to vote no to a treaty that I do not understand.

    This is a democracy.

  5. Sarah Post author

    That’s bolox Enf.

    What do you want? Dick Roche to show up on your doorstep and personally explain it?

    http://www.lisbontreaty.ie/

    There are LOADS of public meetings being held throughout the country with speakers from both sides attending them.
    Get up off your arse and find out about it. You have a duty to inform yourself.
    This is a democracy. Use it.

  6. Sam Bowman

    I’m anti-Treaty, but unfortunately I’ll be on holiday for polling day. If you’re still looking for a “No” counterpart, I’m your man!

  7. Enf

    Jesus Christ Almighty. Keep Roche the hell away from my door. I will hand garlic up.

    Even if it does not get through it will be put through again like the Nice treaty when we got it “wrong”.

    I will go and find out but to bully a nation with a 22.6% functional illiteracy rate between 16 and 65 years into voting for a treaty that it is impossible to read straight through.

    I wouldn’t sign a contract I don’t fully understand and I won’t vote yes to a treaty under duress. I have read the booklet that came in the door and I have tried to listen to the politicians tell me its my duty to vote Yes.

    I do not understand fully what is in the 287 page document that I downloaded. I don’t know anyone who has a family and a job who has the time or inclination to fully work this thing out without taking time off to read and study it.

    This thing is written in an obscure dialect of Klingon. My printer would be going for weeks if I printed and read every document that it amends. There is no flow nor is there any consideration given to the education level of the voter.

    It is not life and death and we will not be ejected from the EU nor pushed out further into the Atlantic if we vote no. If it is incomprehensible we should send it back until the man on the street can understand exactly what is in it. This is called informed consent. To understand the treaty you would need to have to hand the treaties that it amends and a legal dictionary.

    This is what I call a pig in a poke.

    I am against any treaty that transfers powers to others in Europe we do not elect, cannot remove, and who don’t have to listen to us. We already lost control of our currency.

    There is a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) spread about about this treaty.

    If I don’t understand it I won’t vote for it and maybe even voting against it would be a bad idea too but to be forced into a yes is giving into fear. If this was a contract and you signed it not knowing what it contains under duress it would be a voidable contract.

  8. Pingback: Irish Election » Lisbon - A month to go

  9. Colman

    Can anyone tell me how it is possible to have a simple document encompassing the EU legal structures and the assorted compromises that have been made between 27 member states?

    Sarah, the anti-crowd consist mainly of the Sinn Fein types and the suppliers to the US government that are backing Libertas. Both Declan Ganley and Ulick McEvaddy have critical business relationships with the US defence establishment, which strikes me as something of coincidence.

  10. Colman

    Come to think of it, has anyone seen any compelling anti-Lisbon Treaty arguments?

    The gist of the Sinn Fein types is understandable – a free Ireland under the rule of the Sinn Fein Revolutionary Council (or however that translates in Irish) being their ideal world anyway – but most of the anti-stuff I’ve come across has been whining -“it’s too hard for me to read” , “it’s too long” – lies about neutrality, abortion or whatever, extremist free-market economic nonsense or accusations about it being good for nameless elites issued by shadowy organisations run by millionaires.

  11. Sarah Post author

    Have you ever read the Finance Bill which our elected representatives pass each year? It runs to hundreds of pages too. Sorry guys, but legislation is complicated. Its not all one line referendum changes – and look at the trouble they’ve landed us in.
    The EU has flaws but overall its a great thing. The Euro for starters. Look at all the trouble and expense that saves business and individuals on a day to basis. I think its great. If only the Brits would get into it.

  12. Tomaltach

    Sarah,
    I’d add the following to your summary:

    There will be a new role of president of the European Council whose tenure will be 2 1/2 years, renewable once. The president will be elected by the European Council (ie heads of government and state) using QMV.

    And a position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security who will also be the vice pres of the commission. Also elected by European Council by QMV.

    I would also point out that the European Parliament and National parliaments are given an enhance role in some areas. There is a genuine effort to tie the national parliaments in to the Eu legislative procudure. And the Eu parliament itself has a couple of additional powers.

    I think people who talk about the Eu democratic deficit need to look at the evolution of the Eu from a completely undemocratic though absolutely necessary agreement between rival states after the second world war, evolving to bring in gradually more democracy as the process deepened. The European parliament was created in 1979. And in several of the recent treaties, including Nice, the EU parliament was (gradually) given more of a role. Lisbon pushes that forward another step.

  13. Pete

    Sarah, your description was more comprehensible than any other explanation that I’ve read, thanks. Looking at some of the points:

    >Some clarifications – the treaty has NOTHING to do with and will not effect

    >- harmonisation of direct taxes
    This seems to be the main point of conflict. I assume no Irish politician would be stupid enough to support something that would allow EU-wide corporate tax harmonisation, but several politicians in other EU countries seem pretty sure that this treaty will allow just that.

    – defence issues (triple lock still applies)
    Yep, the “only with UN Consent” thing seems solid, and anyway Ireland is militarily insignificant.

    – abortion
    Not one I’m worried about.

    – neutrality
    Irish “neutrality” is long gone anyway.

    – agriculture negotiations at the WTO
    Don’t know or care. Been listening to farmers moan for way too many years now.

    >It also creates institutions and laws that will make prosecutions for drug >and human trafficking across EU borders much easier. Badly needed
    Sound like a good thing alright. A common approach to immigration & asylum seekers would be good too.

    >The EU has flaws but overall its a great thing. The Euro for starters.
    Have to disagree with you about the Euro. It means that we can no longer use interest rates to smooth out the ups and downs of the economic cycle. Therefore we’ll get much bigger booms (the last 10 years) and busts (the next X years) than we would otherwise have got. You might change your mind about the Euro when people you know find themselves with soaring mortgage payments and no jobs!

  14. John

    I have voted Yes in all referenda up to now. However I do not like the way the Dutch and the French who voted No to the E.U constitution are now being bypassed by their politicians. There is a lot of scaremongering by our politicians. If we vote no they will have another referendum as they did with the Nice treaty. The political establishment in all countries seem arrogant.The E.U process does not feel very democratic.

  15. Tomaltach

    Pete,
    You are right that the Euro has the disadvantage that we are not in control of currency. However, I’d make a few observations.

    Until 1979 the Irish pound was effectively fixed to Sterling. We had monetary union with the Uk if you like. From ’79 to ’99 our curreny was independent (actually, for the latter period of the 90s that’s not strictly true either since we had joined the (Exchange Rate Mechanism) ERM which was an effort to keep european currencies from fluctuating outside a certain limit around a cenrtal band. The idea was to hold the rates in an effort to make for convergence towards monetary union). But looking at the period ’79 to say ’92 (Maastricht), it’s not exactly a happy period in the economic life of Ireland.

    The other observation I’d make is a thought experiment. Had we not been in the Eu during the celtic tiger and had we significantly raised rates on an imaginary pound, the result would have been a significant appreciation of the pound against both sterling and the dollar which would have meant a very serious check on competitiveness. This would most likely have happened during the 2nd half of the tiger, in an effort to control inflation and deflate the contruction bubble. But that was precisely a time when our competitiveness was already falling fairly sharply. It is possible to argue that it would have resulted in a significant deterioration in the economy.

    The other point is that there certainly were other measures the government could have employed to deal with the bubble in housing, though of course none as directly effective as increasing the price of money.

  16. Tomaltach

    Another observation actually is to do with our external trade. In terms of exports, since joining the EU (EEC) the % of Ireland’s exports going to the UK has steadily fallen and while that to the EU has steadily increased. Naturally enough, yet the figures are dramatic:

    % of Irish Exports to:
    —————–
    UK EU US
    63 11 13 (1970)
    18 45 18 (2007)

    With 45% of our trade now with the EU the importance of not having wild currency fluctations with the EU trading block is more important than not having fluctations against say Sterling.

  17. Sarah Post author

    One thing the government could have done to control house prices was limit the amount of money institutions could lend. There used to be rules that you could only borrow 2.5 times the salary of the chief earner. They could’ve banned the 100% mortgage, the 40 year term, borrowing for stamp duty. There were a lot of options outside of raising interest rates.

    I have to confess I am not without misgivings, particularly in relation to agriculture. I know its easy to dismiss whining farmers but the current WTO round has massive implications for developing countries and for our agriculture. If the wrong decisions are made food security and quality IS at risk in Europe. If you think that’s scaremongering look at what the biofuel industry is doing to food prices. And that sadistic idiot Mandelson is in charge. Does voting for Lisbon endorse him in an indirect way? Sadly I think yes. Will a No vote stop him from screwing up? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

    I hate to resort to the negative arguments but the other countries can proceed onto other projects without Ireland through the enhanced co-operation option. In other words, if we vote no, they could go ahead and work on the drug and human trafficking aspects without us. Sort of like the Schengen Agreement meant other countries dispensed with passport control whereas we were outside that.

    John Bruton, whom I’ve heard speak at a meeting recently makes one argument, that to me overcomes my misgivings – as long as we are at the table we can influence the outcome. If we absent ourselves, as Britain so often does, then the decisions are made anyway, but without our input. He says Ireland is at a massive advantage to other countries as english is our native language and english is the language of both diplomacy and business. But as the Brits are so negative, it means the Irish are always best placed to lead negotiations and get their people appointed to key positions within the Commission – Irish people have been the last two SecGens AFAIK.

    So when I worry about fraud, about foreign policy machinations, about the ECB, I remember, we can do nothing about these issues if we aren’t around the table. If we vote no and the other countries proceed with enhanced co-operation, they can’t force anything on us, e.g tax harmonisation or laws BUT they will end up affecting us anyway. Norway is a good example of that. I think they are in the EMU, so can’t trade with Europe unless they obey all their laws and standards, but don’t get to negotiate when those agreements are being hammered out.

    Finally I look to history. The fact of the matter is that on so many issues which count, equal pay, the right of married women to work, decriminalisation of homosexuality, the environment, dumping, water, Ireland has been forced to act for the better by the EU. It is a force for good, not completely, but significantly.

  18. Electron

    Sarah, you’re right, law is complicated and that’s why I’m voting against this treaty . There’s nothing black and white in there to feel secure about – we could be isolated again, it‘s too dodgy. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!

  19. Tomaltach

    Electron
    law is complicated and that’s why I’m voting against this treaty. Are you serious? Try to read some of our statutes, even those drafted in recent years with an effort to make them a tiny bit more accessable? Would you vote us back to the stone age?

    Like Sarah says about those who cannot get information, get off your ass, get some of the excellent and abundant information on this treaty, then make an informed choice. Anything less is shamefully undemocratic, selfish, and plain stupid.

  20. Tom Cosgrave

    I am voting no. I hate the idea that Ireland is the only country where the electorate gets to vote on this. Crotty should be EU law, not Irish law, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

    If other electorates were voting on it, then I’d more than likely vote yes.

  21. Electron

    Tomaltach, you ,as a trained engineer know that the sun has a 99.99 —% chance of rising on our eastern horizon tomorrow morning – that’s what I call security – Statute law on the other hand, is a human endeavour that is open to interpretation in both time and place and in most advanced democratic societies it can be tweaked from time to time – not so in the Lisbon Treaty case and there I rest my case.

  22. Tomaltach

    enf,
    It is plain stupid to make any important decision in life without doing your best to get the right information. The same for democracy. If as a collective people didn’t inform themselves about democratic decisions, the outcome would rarely be in their interests. Essentially you are casting a vote at random. Hardly democracy at its best.

    Tom,
    I see your point. But why should our decision on Lisbon be influenced by the way in which other elected governments decided to ratify it? Some countries simply don’t hold referenda. They are strictly representative democracies. In fact, there is a good argument that representative democracy for international treaties is the more effective. The argument has holes I know. But in Ireland we give very important jobs to our elected representatives, jobs which are far far more important and while will impact far more on our lives than anything in Lisbon, which is certainly not among the big European Treaties. At the extreme end, we entrust our elected representatives with War and Peace. We entrust them with building our health service. We entrust them with our educational system. The outcome may not be what we want, but while many would argue for a change of minister few would argue that we should run the Health service by referendum.

    Having said that, I think the big downfall with the referendum is back to the original issue in this comment: getting people to engage. Getting people informed. Getting people to come into the process properly.

    For the coming referendum, the problem is not that people don’t understand the treaty – it’s that they don’t understand the EU full stop. Both EU and national leaders have failed down the years to explain the basics of how the EU operates. Now we are playing catch up. No matter what your view of the EU, our membership has had a lasting impact on the course of this country and will be a big factor in shaping our future. It is only right that we would have a fair idea how the thing works.

    If anything, national politicians have worked against this kind of pedagogy by remaining silent when positive European measures are rolled out, and in cases where things aren’t going well, blaming Europe. An example is the French government lately trying to off load their (recent) shabby economic record on the ECB. Oh, they cried, if only we had the power to set our own interest rates. Yea right.

  23. Tomaltach

    Electron,
    You are right, statute law is tweaked from Time to Time. But the EU Treaties do now set out the equivalent to our statute law. In General, and this especially applies to Lisbon, they set out which institutions get involved in shaping EU law, in which areas, and how. Lisbon therefore is akin to constitutional law. (Shock horror, constitutional?). Actual Eu law comes in the form of regulations and directives. Which can be and are amended.

    Lisbon is not of course introducing the notion of ‘constitution. The sum of the existing Treaties is effectively the constitutional framework of the Union. Constitutions don’t change all that frequently, while statutes are routine.

    You mention tweaking. Lisbon can be tweaked later, but only tweaked. Any major change requires a full renogiation and agreement from all members – it should be no other way.

  24. Tomaltach

    typo. opening is *But the EU Treaties do not set out the equivalent to our statute law*

  25. enf

    I still think that the treaty is worded above the literacy level of the country. We are being asked to vote Yes or No to a 300 page document.

    Is it really so selfish to say “hang on, I don’t follow, please explain it to me better”.

    I think that the key thing missing from the debate here is the political classes lack of respect for the voter. The voter isn’t stupid but an alarming number of people do not have the skills to read the document.

    Pythagorean Theorem: 24 words
    The Lord’s Prayer: 66 words
    Archimedes’ Principle: 67 words
    The 10 Commandments: 179 words
    The Gettysburg Address: 186 words
    The proclamation was 475 words
    The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
    The U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words

    This treaty according to MS word is over 77,000 words.

    How in all that is holy can we be expected to read, understand and give an informed yes or no answer to such a document.

    Its like reading the phonebook and saying Yes or No to it.

    Also holding the referendum on a Thursday to limit the vote is cynical. The Government knows well that a lot of bog trotters won’t bother going home to vote because it is mid week and the electoral register is a total and utter mess. There is no incentive to fix this mess because it would result in more people being able to vote and the vote being more unpredictable.

    I think we need to sort out the electoral register and to have votes at the weekend to ensure people have an opportunity to carry out their democratic right. Hitting me or those of us who are thinking of voting no with the shitty end of a pointy stick for exercising our right to vote no or whatever is bullying.

    I do not understand the full text. I do not understand what I am being asked to say Yes to.

  26. Andrew Lawlor

    I’ve just had a quick run through the Lisbon Treaty. The full text of the proposed treaty can be downloaded but, to be honest, unless you are a constitutional lawyer or an expert in contract law I wouldn’t bother. It only takes a brief perusal of the document to realise that it is utterly impenetrable to the ordinary layman.Try this for size…

    292) Article 310 shall become Article 188 M.
    293) Article 311 shall be repealed. A new Article 311a shall be inserted, with the wording of
    Article 299(2), first subparagraph, and Article 299(3) to (6); the text shall be amended as follows:
    (a) the first subparagraph of paragraph 2 and paragraphs 3 to 6 shall be renumbered 1 to 5
    and the following new introductory wording shall be inserted at the beginning of the Article: “In addition to the provisions of Article 49 C of the Treaty on European Union relating to the territorial scope of the Treaties, the following provisions shall apply:”

    Or how about this…

    8. Articles 3, 4, 6, 7, 9.2, 10.1, 10.3, 11.2, 12.1, 14, 16, 18 to 20, 22, 23, 26, 27, 30 to 34, 50 and 52 of the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank (‘the Statute’) shall not apply to the United Kingdom. In those Articles, references to the Community or the Member States shall not include the United Kingdom and references to national central banks or shareholders shall not include the Bank of England. References in Articles 10.3 and 30.2 of the Statute to ‘subscribed capital of the ECB’ shall not include capital subscribed by the Bank of England.

    That doesn’t trip easily off the tongue either.

    The second passage, however, is not from the Lisbon Treaty. It is taken from the treaty of Rome, originally enacted in 1957 and subsequently amended by Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice among others. On the 10th May 1972 the Irish electorate voted to join the EEC and I would doubt very much if many of the one million plus who voted yes read any part of the Treaty of Rome.

    The argument that we should reject the Lisbon treaty because it cannot be easily read is a bit of a red herring. How many of those who say ‘I wouldn’t sign a legal document if I couldn’t understand it,’ ever read the terms and conditions when they take out a bank loan or buy a concert ticket on Ticketmaster or sign up for a Gmail account?

    Joining the EEC in 1973 was undoubtedly the greatest thing that ever happened to this country. From that one act (eventually) flowed the economic success we have seen in recent years and the modernising of our nation. The establishment of many basic human rights, which we now take for granted, such as equal pay for women, have stemmed from our membership of the EU. In 1972 we did not need to know the intricate details of the Treaty of Rome to know that joining would be good for Ireland. Instead we listened to an informed debate on the pros and cons and made our choices accordingly.
    Similarly, we do not need to read every word of the Lisbon treaty to make a decision on how we should vote this time. There is an overload of information in the public sphere about this treaty and what it will mean to Ireland and to Europe.

    (Incidentally, if you were paying any attention to Libertas and their campaign against the treaty I would strongly recommend that you should read this excellent article by Chekov Feeny over at Indymedia.)

    I am leaning towards a yes vote but I have three weeks to listen to the arguments from both sides before I finally make up my mind. I do feel, however, that if the government parties do not make a serious change to their campaign that he treaty will be rejected. The government’s tactics so far have been extremely negative and bear all the hallmarks of a scare-mongering campaign, which I believe will not go down well with the electorate. Day after day we hear ministers predicting dire consequences for Ireland if we reject the treaty. The utter lack of specifics as to the nature of these consequences will only lead the electorate to believe that they are being bullied into voting yes, which will result in a backlash no vote. If the treaty is as good as the yes campaign says it is then let them tell us exactly how it will benefit us. Let them outline in detail what effect the treaty will have on our lives. More importantly, tell us what the treaty will not do. The referendum Commision’s website is particularly disappointing and very short on real information.

    I do believe that Europe has been extremely good for Ireland and if this treaty does, as we are told, make the EU more effective and more efficient then I will be voting yes.

    So my challenge to both sides is simply this…

    …convince me.

  27. Sarah Post author

    Great point Andrew and that Feeney piece is great. Phoenix had something like it too recently.
    And much relieved that Sam won’t be around :-)

  28. Electron

    Maybe libertas has its own agenda, that’s their business – coming back to ordinary people’s concerns, there remains a huge element of trust with a yes vote. Can we entrust our future to the good will of our larger neighbours ? – for me, that is the real question at the core of Lisbon. In history, we had an act of union that took us from poverty to abject poverty. If we had a reasonable degree of homogeny among the participants, there would be less risk involved, but unfortunately that is not the case.
    Last night’s treatment of the subject on Questions and Answers was pathetic – nobody had a believable answer about the veto issue – to most voters this is crucial and they’ll most likely take Cowen’s own advice on all matters dubious – “when in doubt, leave them out”

  29. Tomaltach

    If I could return to the issue of the failure of the EU and national governments down the years to make people aware of how the EU operates and our interactions with it.

    Today at lunch I had a discussion with a colleague who was passionately against Lisbon. Fair enough. But when I asked to name a number of significant areas where Europe has had a negative effect in recent years, she made a general list of complaints about everything and anything that isn’t right in Ireland – but all of which were down to the Irish government. The cost of childcare is one example she listed.

    The other thing is she kept saying “I don’t want the situation to arise where decisions are made at the EU level and we cannot decide for ourselves”. Hang on a minute. We are already signed up members of the Union and in a broad range of areas, the key decisions are taken at Eu level. For her, it was as if Lisbon would mean joining the European union for the first time. She even mentioned the surrender of our independence. As if today we are a free independent nation, sheltered from the harsh winds of globalistation, and tomorrow, if we agree to Lisbon, we’ll be throwing it all away.

    I cite this example because I think there is a general lack of awareness about where the EU is at today, never mind Lisbon.

  30. enf

    I just want to know what parallel universe it is possible to cast your vote and be unpatriotic.

    You can have any colour you want as long as it is black.

  31. enf

    And if it is so important to you Sarah why don’t you stay and vote.

    Apologies if Bertie didn’t ask you when was convenient.

  32. Sarah Post author

    “Can we entrust our future to the good will of our larger neighbours ? – for me, that is the real question at the core of Lisbon”.

    No its not. Everything at EU level is negotiated and we have a veto over key areas.

    As for me staying to vote. I can’t. It’s a work gig, arranged weeks ago. I am sickened, but that’s life.

    By the way another aspect of Lisbon is that more powers are being given to the European Parliament so it narrows the democratic deficit.
    OR here’s another one.

    Right now European law is initiated by the commission and negotiated by the council of ministers. Then its passed and sent to the nation states to be implemented. Under Lisbon all draft legislation must be sent to the national parliaments to be debated THEN sent back to be ratified by the Ministers at the Council. So again, the deficit is narrowed because national parliaments will have a bigger and more direct say in legislation. So instead of the FnFers agreeing to something in a corridor in Brussels, it HAS to be put through the Dail first.

    I think that’s pretty good.

  33. Sarah Post author

    And the only reason I know this is because I went to a public meeting. Everyone should go.

  34. Tomaltach

    Sarah,
    I agree that the treaty provides an enhanced role for national parliaments. Certainly to be welcomed. As I understand there are three areas where the role of national parliaments is enhanced:

    National parliaments can now employ what’s called a yellow card system if they fell a particular piece of proposed Eu legislation violates the subsidiarity principle. i.e if they feel it’s something that should not be handled at Eu level, but which can be dealt with locally. In short, if at least 1/3 of national parliaments take this view the draft must be reviewed. If at least 1/2 of national parliaments take this view the draft, if not amended, is passed up to Council and to Parliament where they decide using co-decision

    Another area where the national parliaments come in is where the Eu proposes to change an existing area from veto to QMV. In such cases, while Council must reach unanimity, a single national parliament can also veto the move.

    Finally, as you say, all EU legislation and the legislative schedule must be forward to National parliaments. However, as far as I understand it, if it doesn’t fall within one of the areas above (i.e doesn’t violate subsidiarity and isn’t about changing the Eu competence) then the national parliaments have no influence on the decision. (Though that is probably correct under the thinking that if it’s actually an Eu competence, and it’s not changing Eu competence, then it’s the Eu institutions which should make the law)

  35. Electron

    Sarah, for you it all appears to be straightforward and workable, but from my own experience of the present arrangement, there are tensions and uncertainty about some fundamental issues – like the internal market – this is supposed to be a core value, but there are still restrictions through the failure to harmonize standards by some older member states. That’s where we’re at now and not some utopia where everybody rolls over to accommodate their neighbour – dream on!

  36. Crocodile

    Can someone explain to me the Joe Higgins argument about the Treaty meaning more economic liberalisation being imposed on us, particularly when it comes to private supply of public services?

  37. Robert Synnott

    I shall be voting yes (despite scary poster of Enda Kenny urging me to do so); perhaps I could simply vote twice.

  38. Andrew Lawlor

    As I have said, membership of the European Union has been a wonderful thing for this country. I was four years old when we joined and for all of my lifetime since we have been ‘good’ Europeans. We have prided ourselves very much on how we have embraced the European project. Through all of this time we busyed ourselves spending billions of German Deutchmarks and French Francs and Pounds Sterling on new roads and drainage schemes and farmers and all sorts of infrastructure. Almost everybody agreed that the EEC was fantastic. It is interesting to see how many people have now come around to the view that Europe is not such a good idea after all (After all the money has been spent and we now have to start contributing to the EU purse-strings to help our newer European neighbours to develop their own infrastructure)

    The European project has not become a bad idea overnight. As far as I can tell not much will change on a day to day basis for the man and woman in the street if we ratify this treaty.

    What has changed, however, is the fabric of our society. Contrast the heady days of our pride at giving eight million to Live Aid with the nauseating rush for €600 red soled shoes in Dublin this week. We have gotten a little meaner, a little more distrustful, a little more vulgar in recent years and this, I believe, makes us more fearful if someone like Libertas or Sinn Fein tells us that the bogeyman from Brussells is coming to take it all away from us.

    European membership has been very good for this country. We have not always been very good for Europe. How many million (billions?) did Irish farmers and meat barons fiddle from CAP over the years?

    The way the issue is being used by vested interests like the IFA and the taxi industry does not do us proud at all. If we do reject this treaty we should try to be sure that at least we are doing it for the right reasons.

    BTW. I saw a poster in Dublin today that said ‘People Died for your Freedom, Don’t throw it away.’ I was driving and could not seethe name of the group sponsoring the poster. Would it not be somewhat ironic if it was the Shinners?

  39. enf

    i am not doubting that the European project was a good idea. At least it forced us out of the self-imposed recession we gleefully brought upon ourselves.

    I don’t see how voting no is turning my back on that though. I still think that if I don’t understand fully what I am saying yes or no to I should err on the side of caution and say no.

    No because the way it was presented was not good enough. Not well enough explained and if you stand for nothing you will stand for anything. Who knows what other shite they will throw out to us if we pass this.

    They need to respect the voter, the man on the street who is part of their big project. Who foots the bill and who they say it is designed for. If they can’t say what it is and the Taoiseach even says he hasn’t read it then why should I Joe Soap sign on the dotted line?

  40. Sarah Post author

    Enf, I accept that point. ” I don’t see how voting no is turning my back on that though.”
    I’ve dabbled with that…well, we’ve come this far and its grand. Let’s not go any further. Why do we need more countries in?”

    One answer is that its not fair of us to deny other countries the chance to achieve what we have. Isn’t there a moral argument that we should give all those other Eastern Europeans a fair crack? And remember trade and diplomacy DOES prevent wars. I know the EU fucked up over Yugoslavia, and tried to screw Cyprus, but once you’re in, you’re in and it helps peace and food security.

    The second point is that we could say no, and then the others will proceed with the enhanced co-operation. So we won’t stop others from doing anything – we’ll just leave ourselves outside the circle. And that’s not good.

    One other thing, everyone’s worried about direct taxation..how about harmonising VRT? We’re getting totally screwed on it. Ever think there are more advantages to be gained?

  41. Sarah Post author

    the joe higgins thing I don’t know about.
    we’ll ask someone.
    standby.

  42. Electron

    Forget about the VRT – Harmonize tax and we’re gone – that has to happen with further integration otherwise there’s no point to moving any closer ? and it would be morally right – this project is more serious than some fancy terminology and we have to think hard and fast about our capability of surviving without multinationals – do we really have what it takes? – it may be okay for civil servants, but what about the ordinary joe?

  43. enf

    Tell that to the Romanians. The EU “citizens”

  44. Le Catch

    So enf…….correct me if I’m wrong….there is too much information to digest so you are making an ill-informed no vote? Would it not be better to abstain?

  45. enf

    An ill informed no vote is better than an ill informed yes vote.

    To abstain would be to give up my democratic right to vote because the government didn’t have enough respect for the voter to set out what we are voting for.

    I doubt if anyone knows exactly what they are voting for. Not without a month to study it.

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