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Ireland questions EU course

Mark Mardell | 08:52 UK time, Friday, 20 June 2008

More on Brian Cowen's speech. He told other leaders that there was no strong suggestion that the Irish people were less committed to the EU now than in the past, and there was no serious calling into question of the benefits of membership.

He rejects the idea that the treaty was rejected because it was too complex to understand. But he has a long list of "genuinely felt" anxieties, which he labels concerns about the EU's future direction and potential future direction. They are:

- World trade talks.
- Suggestions of tax harmonisation.
- Loss of a commissioner.
- Change in Ireland's voting strength.
- Lack of democratic accountability of the EU high representative and president of the council.
- Possible European Court of Justice rulings on areas like abortion and euthanasia.
- Insufficient workers' rights.
- Defence policy.

That's eight concerns. We won't know for some time how, or indeed if, he intends to address these concerns.


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  • 1. At 10:00am on 20 Jun 2008, Mandragara wrote:

    My respect for Cowen has just gone up quite a few notches. I think he's nailed all the major concerns. If he could get the EU to act on the above, especially 5 and 7, I think he could get a second referendum passed and have made a substantial improvement to the EU as a whole.

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  • 2. At 10:22am on 20 Jun 2008, Smeashy wrote:

    Why does Cowan reject the idea that the treaty was too complex to understand?

    Surely this website and blog over the past few weeks is a document of the significance of its difficulty to understand, and the misinformation that spread as a result.

    Dismissing that factor and identifying those more concrete reasons for the No vote, suggests to me that these will attempted to to be more publicly reconciled for a second referendum.

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  • 3. At 10:23am on 20 Jun 2008, invictagaz wrote:

    I firmly believe the Irish should be made to vote again;...... the day after the French and Dutch hold their second votes.

    The hypocrisy of Sarkozy and his chums is staggering.

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  • 4. At 10:31am on 20 Jun 2008, RoderickvLouis wrote:

    "EU TREATIES CAN HAVE MANY POTENTIAL VERSIONS... THE PROCESS USED TO WRITE EU TREATIES NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!!" Residents of all EU member nations ought to be polled regarding their preferences for the structures, authorities and limitations of a future EU. In other words... residents of ALL EU member nations ought to- at the minimum- be asked non-bindingly whether the future EU model they prefer is: 1) an EU Super State; or 2) an EU that is a loose association of to-varying-degrees integrated, alligned, but independent nations... Data from this process could then be used in the objective compilation of a new 'draft' EU (Constitution) Reform treaty (and future treaties), which could be put to binding referenda in all EU member nations... Considering that the ratification of Constitution-like EU Treaties (such as the misnamed Reform Treaty) have vastly far reaching effects on ALL residents of ALL EU member nations- it is the opinions and views of this body of people, not only a very small subgroup of them- a microscopic few bureaucrats and politicians- that ought to be paramount when the clauses and content of Constitution-like EU Treaties (that are to be put to binding referenda) are determined... An EU-wide, FUTURE-OF-THE-EU DIALOGUE-PROCESS is needed... This ought to be lead by the United Kingdom... Roderick V. Louis, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 5. At 10:47am on 20 Jun 2008, ScepticMax wrote:

    Mandragara @1 wrote:

    "I think he could get a second referendum passed....'

    Second referendum? You lucky, lucky people - we didn't even get one!

    Seriously though, any suggestion of a second referendum is premature. The Lisbon Treaty has been rejected - live with it. Show due respect to the Irish people, enter into a lengthy and considered debate about the issues and come back in a few years time with a proper plan.

    Any rushed quick-fix solution will only add insult and most probably be rejected by an even greater majority.

    The Lisbon Treaty - an unwanted political delusion - died on 13th June 2008.
    Morned by self-appointed EUro-Elitists.
    Unlamented by the public.

    Burial date to be announced.

    Now let the poor dead mutt rest in peace.

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  • 6. At 10:48am on 20 Jun 2008, Young-Mr-Grace wrote:

    The list seems like a pretty good summary to me.
    It should be possible to accomodate some of those issues. ..
    Ireland (like every other country) will have ot accept the new arrangements for QMV and the commission - they just make reasonable sense. The ECJ could be make to take account of consience issues like abortion and decide that each state has the right to determine it's own approach to those issues based on it's own national consience (just as these issues are fre votes in UK HoC).
    I would like to see the president of the council elected by the citizens of europe and the position open to anyone - not just a former head of govt (ie someone passed his/her use by date in their homeland). Not sure if this could be achieved without a re-draft but it could be a citizens iniciative.

    You're all doing very well !!

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  • 7. At 10:48am on 20 Jun 2008, Ardi74 wrote:

    Was not Ireland that benefited most from EU?!

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  • 8. At 11:01am on 20 Jun 2008, doctor-gloom wrote:


    What gets to me is the way these eurocrats are trying to undermine the credibility of the irish no vote. The Irish people have brought to light many of the misgivings many of us have about the EU. These over-fed, over-paid, and over-pampered eurocrats will have to reconsider their views on the whole EU project. A good dose of democratic accountability wouldn't do them any harm. Frankly, If we were all given a vote on the treaty I would accept the outcome, whether I agreed with it or not. But pheeewee! that just seems a little too much to ask: that we should have some say in the direction that this great sticky pudding of an institution is going.

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  • 9. At 11:18am on 20 Jun 2008, Britsceptic wrote:

    One of the 'threats' to Ireland from the EU is that of being banished into Associate Membership.
    I believe, though I'm not sure, that Norway, for instance, is an Associate Member and enjoys the free trade aspects (which is what the Common Market was all about), but is not subject to all of the proposed nonsense about EU presidents and armies. If this is true, shouldn't Ireland (and the UK) go for this with open arms?

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  • 10. At 11:22am on 20 Jun 2008, akitek wrote:

    I agree with the idea of a 'period of reflection' for the Irish, and think 10 years an appropriate amount of time.

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  • 11. At 11:24am on 20 Jun 2008, Wopitt wrote:

    Number 7

    So what if they were or were not. Are you suggesting that they owe a yes vote?

    Hmmm - interesting idea of democracy.

    As they say on the financial ads in the UK, " past perfomance is no guide to future returns".

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  • 12. At 11:30am on 20 Jun 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    7. At 10:48am on 20 Jun 2008, Ardi74 wrote:

    Was not Ireland that benefited most from EU?!

    Why do people assume that seeing benefit from some European policies means that nothing EU-related could possibly be bad for Ireland? If I offer you a tenner and you take it, you are not then obliged to accept another tenner if it comes with a compulsory slap in the face.

    The spread of power between Ireland (or any country) and the EU needs be balanced and there will always be a point at which becoming more integrated ceases to be beneficial to the people of Ireland as power is moved further away from those who are governed by that power.

    Regarding the list, I'd like to add the complete lack of financial accountability at the Commission. They've had over a decade of accounts that auditors won't sign off because the Commision can't justify the expenditures.

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  • 13. At 11:34am on 20 Jun 2008, EUresident wrote:

    The problem with holding a referendum on a complex issue as an EU treaty, is that there are potentially as many reasons to say no as there are words in that document.

    The treaty is the result of 7 years of negotiation between governments, where parliaments and a whole range of civic, industrial, environmental and many other interest groups were heard.

    Naturally, every citizen of the EU could have objections to anything mentiononed in the document and thus vote "no".Saying "yes" on the other hand, means saying yes to the compromise as a whole.

    But you can't have it both ways: either
    1. you choose to co-operate and accept a level of compromise, or
    2. you go it alone, basing yourself on the illusion that on a national level you can have it all exactly the way you personally choose.

    It is certainly true that the EU has a democratic deficit and that people feel alienated. But the level of negative sentiment towards the EU coming especially from UK residents is astonishing and cannot objectively be ascribed to the shortcomings of the EU.

    Basically the tone is that they only agreed to free trade, and all else was pushed down their throats. In my opinion this is due to a constant stream of EU-bashing in the mainstream Englisch language press, where expanding is presented as a good thing, and all political co-operation the devil in person.

    But you have to ask yourselves if the rest of EUrope is prepared to ONLY trade with you without the other spheres of co-operation. Probably the answer would be no, as the bulk of continental Europe does not believe that unlimited free trade will make us all better. Limiting co-operation to trade only, means in practice that you will get a race tot the bottom between countries.

    This means: ever lower environmental and working standards; ever less taxes levied and thus less public services like health, education, infrastructure, public transport, you name it... And this is exactly the agenda of Murdoch and co: let big business rule alone.

    While you are worrying about an elusive concept as loss of national sovereingty, your society will get ever LESS grip on what you can decide for yourselves, if you limit co-operation to free trade and refuse to co-operation in others.

    Instead of bashing the EU as such, we should strive to make it more democratic, and the irony is that this treaty actually goes a long way in that direction.

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  • 14. At 11:37am on 20 Jun 2008, doctor-gloom wrote:

    The EU's financial, and 'other' problems are down to the credibility crunch.

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  • 15. At 11:44am on 20 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    Time now for a summer break.

    Some we'll have a rest, others will go in procession to Prag sanctuary.

    What it seems granted is the Lisbon treaty will not start to be implemented from 1st of January 2009 under the Czech EU presidence as foreseen: perhaps we all should thank the Irish to say No and thus postpone the whole thing for better moments.

    Have a nice summer everybody!

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  • 16. At 11:52am on 20 Jun 2008, Darren Stephens wrote:

    Of course, if the Irish are forced ino a second referendum, the most likely course is an even bigger no vote that sends the message, "Didn't you understand NO the first time?"

    The no campaign won because it contained an affiliation of groups with different concerns. Many of those concerns are not really going to go away, so the constituency will not undergo a great deal of erosion.

    I am not a Europhobe by any means (quite the opposite in fact) but even I am starting to feel sightly queasy at the rather desperate efforts of a group in the EU to cling onto something so clearly dead in the water. The way the whole ratification process was setup almost looks like it was designed to contain inevitable failure. The only major surprise is that it was the Irish who broke ranks first.

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  • 17. At 12:04pm on 20 Jun 2008, tuairimiocht wrote:

    I know a lot of the "Eurosceptics" here have in the last few days complained that when Britain and Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, that the deal was for free trade, and that the institutions that have developed since have been pushed down the throats of these noble defenders of liberty. Have any of these people bothered to take a look at the Treaty of Rome? In its preamle it states the following:

    That the signatories are

    DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples,

    DECIDED to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action in eliminating the barriers which divide Europe,

    RECOGNISING that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee a steady expansion, a balanced trade and fair competition,

    INTENDING to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and overseas countries, and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

    RESOLVED to strengthen the safeguards of peace and liberty by establishing this combination of resources, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts.

    Now please don't tell me this is just about trade. I could go on, but Britain knew what it was signing up to in '73, and voted on it. In a referendum.

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  • 18. At 12:23pm on 20 Jun 2008, SeverityOne wrote:

    'EUresident' couldn't have worded my feelings better. I'm Dutch, and I would love to have an opportunity to vote 'yes' again. But the political climate in the Netherlands is such that a new vote would yield another negative vote.

    Those who keep referring to the 'no' votes in the Netherlands and France would do well to investigate what were the concerns mentioned. In the Netherlands, lack of information was the number one reason, followed by loss of national sovereignty, opposition to the then government or certain political parties, and concerns about the cost of EU membership (which conveniently forgets how much money the Dutch are making just because of EU membership; transportation comes to mind).

    Or the ludicrous campaign claiming that the Lisbon treaty would introduce an EU-wide death penalty, made by people who either don't know the situation about the death penalty in Europe, or know it very well but concoct a story to pursue their own anti-EU agenda.

    I cannot imagine having to get and regularly renew a work permit just because I live and work in another country (Malta), or having different currencies, or flying to the much more inconvenient Amsterdam airport instead of Düsseldorf, if border checks and German marks were to be introduced again.

    There are plenty of things that can be improved about the EU, but the notion that it's all bad, and that your own national government does such a good job, is uninformed at best. The Lisbon treaty is a first step towards bettering the EU, making it more transparent, giving more power to the European Parliament and national parliaments, and limiting the possibilities of one government (like the previous Polish one) to frustrate the rest of the members.

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  • 19. At 12:27pm on 20 Jun 2008, AqualungCumbria wrote:

    I think Mr Cowen is missing a very big point.

    He and only he has had the honour to let the people of his country decide the outcome of this constitution.

    Mr sarky hasn't the guts to let the French people decide,all the governments who don't have a referendum will be seen as weak and will be further weakened until they do.

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  • 20. At 12:33pm on 20 Jun 2008, smfcbuddie wrote:


    I am not sure I would agree that you are in a better position than a Eurosceptic citizen to reflect an objective view of the EU as seen from the UK. Nor am I impressed with the view that compromise is needed in order to agree co-operation. Surely the best way for nations to bring about co-operation is to choose the partner(s) and the area of co-operation carefully. Also, bear in mind the fact that just because you are able to 'co-operate' in one area, you cannot assume that you can do so in all areas.

    In the area of democracy, try also to work from the principle that the electorate like to hold to account, those people who take decisions in our names. The further away from us that these people reside / take decisions (both literally and metaphorically), the less likely individuals are to feel an affiliation to those people or their decisions.

    If you propose change to an already sceptical populace without having first addressed their concerns, do not be offended when the result is a large NO, as seen in France, Netherlands and in Ireland. Please also note, that none of these countries are the UK, where we have not been given the opportunity to say NO despite a promise to have a referendum.

    So while it may be easy to place the blame for the negative feelings expressed in this and other blogs at the feet of the UK resident, try to take a more objective view. Everyone who has been asked the question on the Constitution / Reforming Treaty does not reside in the UK and yet they all said NO.

    In other aspects of life, we are assured that NO means NO. It appears that it is only in dealing with the EU, we are asked to agree that NO may mean 'maybe' or Yes. I regard this as a somewhat shaky argument if you don't mind me saying.

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  • 21. At 12:38pm on 20 Jun 2008, mr_joe_public wrote:

    don't you realise that this treaty is about the deletion of the sovereignty of your country?

    getting concessions for ireland will not stop those concessions from being repealed in the future, because that is what the EU constitution allows.

    don't be fooled into thinking you are going into this on your terms - you are not.

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  • 22. At 12:45pm on 20 Jun 2008, IanBannen wrote:

    Maybe Cowen is just very smart. If the Irish had voted yes he's Europes Golden Boy. Now they voted now, Ireland gets concessions they didn't get before. It's win-win. I wish Brown was as clever!

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  • 23. At 12:50pm on 20 Jun 2008, smfcbuddie wrote:


    I would refer you to my earlier post.

    Just as you are likely to get individuals who are happy to 'co-operate and compromise' in many areas of national life, you must expect that there are others who take a contrary view. Neither position is 'right'.

    Since we live in a democracy, we normally operate on the basis that the majority view holds sway. To then denigrate their individual views, or the groupings that they make for political reasons, is merely a further illustration as to why some people will never agree with you.

    Perhaps you can answer this point- amongst all of those groups across Europe who campaign for ratification of the Treaty, is it the case that those groups agree on everything else, or is their coincidence of views simply a convenient political device to obtain agreement?

    It is also a bit extreme to imply that those who argue for a No vote could require that you will need work permits or German Marks. The existing arrangements are not in danger, it is however, for those who argue for a change to justify that change. So far, the people have rejected change when they have been given the chance. Does this not telll you something?

    All the best.

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  • 24. At 12:59pm on 20 Jun 2008, Clive Hill wrote:

    Post 17. At 12:04pm on 20 Jun 2008, tuairimiocht wrote:

    "...Now please don't tell me this is just about trade. I could go on, but Britain knew what it was signing up to in '73, and voted on it. In a referendum".

    I am sure many others will point it out but Britain did not have a referendum on joining the EEC (as it was then).

    Edward Heath, as prime minister, signed the UK up to it without a referendum. It was the Wilson government elected in 1974 that held the referendum on leaving.

    By that time all of the now-familiar fears of isolation in the world, being left behind (does anyone know what that actually means ?); disastrous trade figures were all deployed.

    Trade certainly was a major feature of the campaigns. It was not as simple as it is now because one of the major problems of the UK joining the EEC was the breaking of trade relationships with Commonwealth countries. New Zealand, as I recall, got a special deal from the EEC with which they were happy. Others did not.

    This was the kind of discussion that happened. Whether we were happy severing old trade connections to take up new ones.

    These problems continue with the German preference for Costa Rican bananas vying with the UK attempting to support West Indian economies.

    The notion of political integration when we had been blackballed by De Gaulle and France at least twice was ludicrous. It occurred to nobody that I met and I was involved with the campaign.

    In fact I supported the 'Get Britain Out' campaign precisely because I could not see why we would want to narrow our world relations focus so much.

    I am still of that view. A question I like to ask is, why can Japan not join the EU ?

    The main characteristic of the campaign for me was that the 'Keep Britain In' campaign spent 5 times as much as the 'Get Britain Out' campaign. I believe every newspaper was in favour of staying in.

    Incidentally, to the poster who said earlier that we are victims of the Murdoch press I would say that we are also victims of the BBC's pro-EU bias - and as broadcast news I believe it has considerably more effect.

    I did not make that up. The BBC found that it was biased in favour of the EU in an internal investigation a few years ago. See

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  • 25. At 1:06pm on 20 Jun 2008, TheFatZebra wrote:

    Excellent post EUresident, well said.

    I find it intriguing how over some 15 of Mark's blogs posts during the past week, the gratuitous use of such words as 'constitutionality', 'democracy' and 'sovereignty' has waned; and what is left are a number of well-founded comments as to why the No-vote was based on oversimplification and scare-mongering.

    Interestingly, the 'yes'-posts are always the longest and complex ones, a point which very much reminds me of mainstream politicians seeking to respond to extreme-right populism (Vlaams Belang, Le Pen, anyone?): loud catchphrases unfortunately often seem to be victorious in that context, as in the Lisbon Treaty context.

    With Betuli, I hope that a nice summer break will make all flaring emotions come to rest, both of the Yes and No camps, so as to find a way out of the policy issues that all 27 states are facing, hopefully on the basis of an effective and common approach.

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  • 26. At 1:08pm on 20 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    The Irish are raising some legitimate questions about the Lisbon Treaty....

    Although I am (upset) because they rejected it...But it is the decision of the people of the Republic of Ireland.

    Someday, They can re-posted to the people...


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  • 27. At 1:12pm on 20 Jun 2008, BackintheEUssr wrote:

    Tuairimiocht #17 - I voted no in the British referendum in 1975. I had found by then that the 'ideals' of the preamble in the Treaty of Rome were already being ignored by the countries of the EC even before we signed in 1972 and concluded that the UK would strive in vain to effect any changes, particularly on 'fair competition' - it's still a contentious issue isn't it?

    Unfortunately, the majority of the Brits believed their politicians when assured that we were joining for trade only (yes they did say that - Ted Heath did not reveal his conversations with the French at the time - if he had the No vote would have been unstoppable).

    The EU is like Communism in that is the Utopian dream of an unrepresentative elite who will not allow democracy to thwart their mission. Compare the current vitriolic reaction in the European Parliament to the eurosceptics - beware, they will get even nastier!

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  • 28. At 1:21pm on 20 Jun 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    What is the point of Cowen's concerns? Is it to re-address Irish public and explain how these concerns are resolved in the Lisbon Treaty or is it to make changes to the treaty?

    When I look at the list of concerns I can't understand how there could be any real problem with the treaty.

    1. World trade talks

    Is it about Irish veto? If yes, then the treaty doesn't change anything: i.e. France sees that it will still in the future have a veto in WTO talks.

    2. Suggestions of tax harmonisation.

    Is it about tax harmonization or tax code harmonization? To this date EU has specialized on harmonizing tax codes and how we tax different things, not on actual tax rates. Tax code harmonization is a good thing and should be continued as it eases conducting business in different EU countries (less overhead per country).

    3. Loss of a commissioner.

    The commissioner hasn't to this day represented his or her country, but the interests of the whole Europe. Also the commission will work more effectively when having less members (information theory about max number persons in a team).

    4. Change in Ireland's voting strength.

    My understanding has been that the double majority vote favors small countries as their vote is needed to get the required double majority of both populations and countries.

    5. Lack of democratic accountability of the EU high representative and president of the council.

    They don't have any power and they are accountable to the member countries, to the minister council.

    6. Possible European Court of Justice rulings on areas like abortion and euthanasia.

    These issues can go to both direction, so wouldn't be realistic that some liberal countries like Sweden or Netherlands would have rallied strong opposition on anybody telling on can they have abortions or active euthanasia.

    7. Insufficient workers' rights.

    What? There hasn't been any noise coming from labor unions here in Finland about the treaty weakening workers rights and for heavens sake we still have from time to time Comprehensive Income Policy Agreements between the Finnish goverment and labor unions and employer organizations. If there would be any weakening to workers rights, both labor unions and Socialist Democratic party would have raised it as an issue.

    8. Defence policy.

    Sweden, Finland and Austria all are neutral countries and have resolved to continue with their lining.

    I think it's more or less impossible to get any changes to these as all the evidence seems to point that there really isn't any issue about these concerns in the treaty. Maybe these issues that Cowen put out are deemed as talking points to the Irish public.

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  • 29. At 1:25pm on 20 Jun 2008, Shay_Begorrah wrote:

    Cowen's eight points seem to catch most of the worries, personally I would be happy if points eight, seven and three were dealt with in that order - for me the commissioners is a much less important issue than the QMV formula; the smaller countries (basically everyone smaller than Poland or perhaps the Dutch) should never have accepted the present voting formula.

    If I were Cowen I would approach the negotiations from a different angle than national interest though - if Ireland gets a derogation everyone has to so its probably best to couch these things in the terms of the changes Ireland thinks would make the EU a better for the world rather than just for Ireland.

    I personally voted no becuase I though we had a responsibility to fight for a just, open, non militarized and accountable European union and not for a compromise that spoke more to the ambitions of politicians than to any vision of a better world.

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  • 30. At 1:30pm on 20 Jun 2008, Na_Gopaleen wrote:

    Ya and another one he forgot to mention as has the entire Irish government that's avoided discussing since the Nice treaty is Immigration.
    That's the main reason I voted no.
    Lets stick together in Europe but not get too close.
    I don't think other EU countries have experienced the level of immigration as have Ireland and the UK.
    And to any one who says shame on Ireland after all Europe's done for us. Wrong.
    Its the US who made this country prosperous and I would much rather be the 51st state then have to put up with this European nonsense.

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  • 31. At 1:30pm on 20 Jun 2008, tuairimiocht wrote:

    From the "yes" pamphlet in the 1975 referendum:

    The aims of the Common Market are:

    * To bring together the peoples of Europe.
    * To raise living standards and improve working conditions.
    * To promote growth and boost world trade.
    * To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.
    * To help maintain peace and freedom.

    Not just about trade was it?

    In any case, European capitalism is **regulated** capitalism, and the only way to realize a common market in this model is by common regulation, which implies a degree of central coordination.

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  • 32. At 1:35pm on 20 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    It seems, not only Ireland.

    Lord Justice Richards said: "
    The court is very surprised that the government apparently proposes to ratify while the claimant's challenge... is before the court." [BBC World]

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  • 33. At 1:52pm on 20 Jun 2008, Wopitt wrote:

    The voters, have been told whatever it takes to get us to this point in the EU project.

    When they complained that the results were not what they expected they were told - "tough, you should have read the documents and found out what you agreed to. What is done is done, there is no going back. Caveat Emptor and all that".

    Now when the voters try to find out what they are being asked to agree to, they find out that it is pretty hard to find out, and what they can find out is not all to their liking. Quite rationally, they vote "no".

    The EU advocates, then say to them, "why did you vote no when you didn't understand what you were being asked?" and then say, "well, we must go back and find out what it is that you didn't understand and make some changes so that you can change your mind".

    What they won't accept is that these votes are not about matters of detail, but a vote on the wider issues of the EU. Applying a double standard to their responses only compounds the feelling amongst the doubters and sceptic that the EU is not actually interested in anything other than the EU.

    My personal view is that we are being asked to replace a system of representative democracy with one of benign despotism. Not something that I am particularly comforatable with to be totally honest.

    I may be wrong, but it is for the EU to prove it, and that will take them some major reforming steps as to how they do their business, before I am willing to let them dabble further in mine.

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  • 34. At 1:54pm on 20 Jun 2008, Huaimek wrote:

    The assumption that voters in Ireland , should be answering precisely what is written in the Treaty is a nonsense .
    I doubt that many people have read word for word the over 100 pages of unintelligible legalese .
    What the Irish people have rightly assessed is that once the treaty is ratified and put into operation , any assurances on abortion , military neutrality , uthanasia and many more , may be undone by the terms of the treaty .
    The EU has a reputation of dishonesty , saying one thing and meaning another .
    Member states should not enter into treaties of such far reaching powers with a political organisation , the EU , that cannot be trusted .
    Trust is the Key word !!! However keen the Irish are to be members of the European Union , they cannot trust the Commission and Parliament to honour their special circumstances in good faith .

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  • 35. At 2:00pm on 20 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    To tuairimiocht #17 and chill0 #24,

    I remember the referendum very well as it was for us to confirm our entry into the Common Market or EEC which was it's true name. We did enter in 1973 and it was Wilson who one year after his election in 1975 held the referendum with cross party campaigns for both pro and anti views as members of all parties were split on the issue. I voted for the Common Market and Wikipedia correctly describes what made me vote 'Yes' :- "A common market is a customs union with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of all the three factors of production (land, capital and labour) and of enterprise. The goal is that movement of capital, labour, goods, and services between the members is as easy as within them.".

    #17, your line "DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples," can be interpreted to mean almost anything eg customs union, political union, federation etc, but at that time in 1975 the 'sales' campaign referred simply to it being a common market as I've described above, if we had understood that some meant it to become a political union with an all powerful super state then I'm sure most of us would have changed our minds.

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  • 36. At 2:09pm on 20 Jun 2008, Clive Hill wrote:

    Post 31. At 1:30pm on 20 Jun 2008, tuairimiocht wrote:

    "From the "yes" pamphlet in the 1975 referendum:

    The aims of the Common Market are:

    * To bring together the peoples of Europe.
    * To raise living standards and improve working conditions.
    * To promote growth and boost world trade.
    * To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.
    * To help maintain peace and freedom.

    Not just about trade was it?

    In any case, European capitalism is **regulated** capitalism, and the only way to realize a common market in this model is by common regulation, which implies a degree of central coordination"

    All of the points listed in the pamphlet can be addressed on the basis of trade - and they were - except possibly the one about the 'poorest regions of the world'.

    I believe that may be a gesture to those fearing at the time for India which - believe it or not from the modern perspective - was going through food crises and starvation among the rural poor.

    You should understand that the opposition to the EEC was primarily from the left. I was a member of the Liberal party. There was a group called 'Liberals against Europe' but it had few members.

    I worked mainly with the Communist party and the Labour Party Young Socialists who were violently opposed to the EEC. A popular slogan was that it was a 'Rich Man's Club' which would indulge itself and let the rest of the world go to hell. Plus ca change.

    Curiously, there is no mention in the pamphlet you dug out of political union.

    I would love to know where in the western world you think there is **unregulated** capitalism. Nor do I see how regulation implies "...a degree of central coordination..."

    The WTO is a trade regulator but I cannot see how it coordinates trade. Unless you mean that you think of agreements on trade as 'coordination'.

    In that case, the whole of the western world and much of the rest of it is 'coordinated'. How does the EU help ?

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  • 37. At 2:11pm on 20 Jun 2008, NoFool wrote:

    The EU is saying to ireland:

    "Throw the dice".

    "If you get a 7, sign the Treaty".

    "Any other number, you get to throw the dice again"

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  • 38. At 2:16pm on 20 Jun 2008, happylorddudley wrote:

    The Treaty of Rome has been mentioned several times. Where does it mention becoming a state of Europe? The Lisbon Treaty gives a president, foreign minister and embassies....that is a real step towards a state. I did vote to stay in the Common Market in 1975....but since then none of the political parties have asked the voters if they agree with the direction of continuous European integration....political, social, well as economic. The fact the Tories never gave referendums is now being used by Labour as a reason for continuing not to ask the people.
    Yes we are a Parliamentary democracy....but that dos not mean heading towards a super state of Europe is not above party policy. In fact the people have been lied to continuously about the real direction of Europe.
    I believe we need to have a referendum...not on Lisbon...but simply: "Do you want to continue a path of further integration with the European Union, or to stop integration and focus on ecomonic cooperation." It is not in or out of Europe, but how to progress.

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  • 39. At 2:34pm on 20 Jun 2008, EUresident wrote:

    # 20, 23

    I was not at all implying that eurosceptics are wrong by definition and the others are right.

    Also, I am perfectly aware of the "no" votes in France and the Netherlands, and I would even disagree with those who say this had only to do with disconent at national level.

    I took the example of the UK partly because sentiments there are far less favourable to the EU than the countries that said "no" in their referenda (the outcome of a vote in the UK would probably be less evenly split between yes and no).

    The UK may have Murdoch to defend the UK from the "corrupt, socialist, dictatorial EU", in the Netherlands and France leaders made a habit of deciding something at EU-level and, at home, blame it on the EU.

    The no votes in France and the Netherlands were, in large part, due to a fear that the EU is gradually breaking down the welfare state, as every unpopular move in that field was sold as "Europe says we have to".

    Thus I refer to my central point: the UK and Ireland, and so-called "old socialist Europe" have fundamentally different views on how to balance a free market and quality of life.

    You say that compromise is not needed if you carefully choose the area of co-operation. That is where I disagree: every kind of co-operation implies compromise.

    Free trade in itself is not neutral. Most competences were brought to EU level as a result of some countries asking to break down barriers in one area and others saying "ok, but only if we level the playing field in this or that related area".

    I do agree with you that the way the EU gathered competences in that way is far from democratic. But it would be hard to turn back the clock, as one competence is linked to a range of others. A better option in my own humble view is to radically heighten the accountability of the EU decision-making process. And fro politicians to finally explain to voters WHY governments at some point decide to co-operate in a certain area.

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  • 40. At 2:41pm on 20 Jun 2008, tuairimiocht wrote:

    I would love to know where in the western world you think there is **unregulated** capitalism. Nor do I see how regulation implies "...a degree of central coordination..."

    Of course, there is no such thing as unregulated capitalism, but regulation in the EU is stricter than elsewhere. This is true with respect to competition, consumer protection, and environmental protection. Indeed, since the commission as regulator is not directly elected, it is less subject to sectional pressures and is thus capable of regulating based on a "precautionary principle", meaning that regulation is preventative, and human health is prioritized over economic gain. Because of the size of the European economy, Europe is now the de facto regulator of the global economy - a tremendous amount of soft power.

    Think about all of the things the commission tries to regulate for, and the ways in which health and the environment are being improved continually. Offhand I can think about the REACH directive, the landfill directive, and the initiatives to combat climate change and fossil-fuel dependence. This agenda is far more ambitious than what the WTO represents and probably would never have been dreamed up without the commission. However, perhaps in the future it would be nice if the WTO would help to combat climate change, but that is another issue.

    My point all along was that many complain now about the EU, but in Britain the electorate voted for membership in '75 (not '73; woops). The Treaty of Rome 1956 was not a secret document, people could have read it. Fair enough, the 'yes' side outspent the 'no' side by a multiple of three or so, but as the sceptics never tire of telling us after the Irish vote, are not the people imbued with some kind of inalienable wisdom that prevents them from collectively making a bad decision?

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  • 41. At 2:45pm on 20 Jun 2008, ScepticMax wrote:

    betuli @15,
    Thanks for conceding gracefully (shame our lords and masters can't behave likewise). Have a nice summer.

    illuminatusmagister @16 wrote:
    "The only major surprise is that it was the Irish who broke ranks first."

    No surprise - they were the only people who had a say on the matter.

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  • 42. At 2:59pm on 20 Jun 2008, Schrodi wrote:

    The Eurobarometer survey into why the Irish voted as they did has been released and would appear to turn various analyses on their heads.

    Not knowing what the treaty was about was the main reason (22%) why people voted no. But this is not near as high as some figures I'd heard quoted and I believe it's lower than either the French or Dutch referenda in 2005. Protecting Irish identity was next at 12%.

    After that there's a mish-mash of issues: defence matters, loss of commissioner, taxes, opposition to united Europe all around 6%. Distrusting politicians also features here.

    One newspaper here last week said that this survey would show that immigration was a big reason for voting no. Well, they got that wrong. It was only mentioned by 1% of the no voters.

    Support for our continuing membership of the EU remains extremely high at 89% of all voters. Astonishingly, even 80% of the no side think we should stay in the Union.

    Can I post the link?

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  • 43. At 3:02pm on 20 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    Going back to what I said in post 35,

    "A common market is a customs union with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of all the three factors of production (land, capital and labour) and of enterprise. The goal is that movement of capital, labour, goods, and services between the members is as easy as within them.".

    It is a pity #40 tuairimiocht, that whilst they have regulated for products and the environment, landfills, climate etc to the extent that we are now burdened with so called 'green' taxes, they have done little about the freedom of movement of land, capital and labour. It is very recent indeed that there is even an EU policy on the harmonisation of qualifications and it is very much just the beginning for that. Social mobility is a mess for anyone wanting to work in multiple countries and afterwards the social legislation covering things like unemployment, health care and pensions is like sinking sand, the more you struggle the deeper you fall into the bottomless mire. Finally, anyone know what's happened to that mythical concept of an EU wide company as you still have to have a local company in any country in which you operate directly, open trade, um, er, where.

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  • 44. At 3:05pm on 20 Jun 2008, KnuckleDragger42 wrote:

    Response to Jukka_Rohila #28

    It's just information on why people voted no, what action is taken hasn't be decided yet.

    It's a way of saying without explicitly saying, change some of these and a second vote would be "Yes."

    There only needs to be a 3.5% swing to reverse the result, any one of these would probably do that.

    1. WTO

    This is because the farming organisations in Ireland don't like the current WTO negotiations stance. They hold considerable clout in Ireland. They did in fact urge a Yes vote but only at the last minute and they didn't put much energy into it. If the farmers are kept happy then in all likelihood the treaty would pass a second referendum.

    The farmers assume, probably correctly, is that if Cowan doesn't need them, he won't use his veto.

    2. Its's Tax Harmonisation.

    Most people in Ireland credit the 12.5% corporation tax rate with the beginning of the economic improvement in the mid-90's. Any suggestions that a move towards tax hormonisation is on the way greeted with dismay. This was due to come up in the French presidency. Now it won't.

    3. Commissioner

    The commissioner is seen as an ambassador to europe, a link between the european government and Ireland. We hear next to nothing about our MEPs but the commissioner is regularly heard from. Without a commissioner the already slim level of communication between Brussels and Ireland would almost totally cease.

    4. Voting Strength

    The double majority voting system favours the most populous countries in the EU. The population vote is 65%, while the number of countries is only 55% or 15. It is virtually impossible to get anything through without nearly all of the most populous countries, so they would retain a near-veto. While the number of countries would need to be 14 votes to block.

    With more votes being decided by QVM, the loss of power of the smaller nations is quite significant.

    5. Lack of Accountability

    They are only accountable to other politicians. Politicians that selected them. The type of accountability Cowan is talking about is direct elections . Probably he should have mentioned Commisioners as well.

    6. ECJ

    It's not what way the ECJ decides it's whether the ECJ can over-rule the Irish constitution or not. The treaty wording and the wording of the amendment to the Irish constitution left it open to interpretation whether the ECJ could do so.

    7. Workers rights

    This stems from Irish Ferries replacing nearly all their Irish staff with cheaper eastern european labour (below the Irish minimum wage). And there was a european court decision in relation to a Swedish trade union and an Estonian (I think) company. The Estonian company was allowed to pay it's staff below the Swedish minimum wage in Sweden.

    Also there have been mutterings that european labour law will get in the way of the social partnership scheme we use in Ireland. Basically the employers, unions and government get together every couple of years and agree a package of wage increases and tax cuts. As a result there a very few strikes here. This is seen here as the #2 reason for the level of inward investment Ireland gets.

    8. Defense

    If an EU army is involved in a war, it will be seen as an EU army. Not as an army of some-of-the-EU. As NATO already exists why does europe need another army? Because Ireland suffered from being a pawn in European wars we take a very dim view of the idea of european armies once again looking to flex their muscles internationally.

    Again the French where going to push this (partly because they want to use it as a card in what happens to NATO), now they won’t.

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  • 45. At 3:22pm on 20 Jun 2008, Schrodi wrote:

    Following on from post 42, here's the link to Eurobarometer survey:

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  • 46. At 3:26pm on 20 Jun 2008, Dagonz wrote:

    So, it seems that both sceptics and pro-Europeans (I'm choosing the flattering terms each camp chose for themselves) have a thing in common: they all ask for more democracy and more accountability from European instances.

    Funny when you realise that the power is still all in the hands of national governments. You never see Barroso doing much, but the blame (on both sides) falls squarely on Sarkozy, Brown, Cowen, etc.

    Maybe saying "I'd support the EU more if it was more democratic" is a façade for paranoid EUphobes who would still rant and rave all the way to the polls electing an EU president. Maybe saying "the treaties are all about making the EU more democratic" is an easy way out for federalists who want to abolish flags, apple pie and Morris dancing.

    Still, the question remains: how do we stop whining about more democracy and start bringing it about?

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  • 47. At 3:29pm on 20 Jun 2008, Wopitt wrote:

    to misquote von Clausewitz (a lot):

    the EU is the continuation of the politics of national advantage by other means

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  • 48. At 4:03pm on 20 Jun 2008, Dagonz wrote:

    To 47:

    Yes. It is. what is funny is that both sides claim that that's a bad thing and would like to change it.

    Which begs the question: why aren't we moving on this?

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  • 49. At 4:46pm on 20 Jun 2008, dasdog wrote:

    @ Schrodi (post 42)

    "Support for our continuing membership of the EU remains extremely high at 89% of all voters. Astonishingly, even 80% of the no side think we should stay in the Union."

    As a No voter I was and still am pro-European. The reason for my No was not so much the main points of the treaty content, although I did have reservations about Sarkozy implementing an export tax post ratification (this was my selfish reasoning) - it was more the fact that previous electorate had been ignored and the electorate of other member states had no opinion. Also, when it was and is plainly obvious that the UK would have been passing this treaty when the general populous are Eurosceptics. This last point flies in the face of reason and can only lead to trouble down the line.

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  • 50. At 4:59pm on 20 Jun 2008, Dagonz wrote:

    To 49.

    Dare I say that your vote amounted to "Down with that sort of thing! Careful now"?


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  • 51. At 5:18pm on 20 Jun 2008, dasdog wrote:

    @ Dagonz (post 50)

    hehe....not exactly

    But there was cause for the latter (careful now) seeing electoral decisions being rebuffed. Plus I have to say, some unsavoury comments with regard to hidden agendas (Giscard D'Estaing) but that was lower down my concern list.

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  • 52. At 5:37pm on 20 Jun 2008, David Pritchard wrote:

    All these posters saying we should "compromise" are totally missing the point. Treaties require unanimity. No-one ever signed up to the EU (or would ever sign up) on the basis that treaties could be passed by majority. Presumably, when Ireland joined, some people were aware of her constitutional requirements for a referendum. They were never told that would be a problem.

    The fact is, the dream of the builders of the United States of Europe requires a large population and therefore a wide variety of members. Going back to a "hard core" of states would destroy the power and influence that they crave. Look at the United States: strongly limiting the power of the Federal Government was the only way to bring together so many different states into a union. Europe is far more diverse than the US, so the degree of devolution needs to be greater. Surely, this is obvious? Why can't the Eurocrats figure it out?

    The other problem with brow-beating every member that steps out of line is that there are too many of them, some of them belonging to the "hard core". Holland, France, Ireland, Britain, the Czech Republic, Poland... where does it end? Over time, more countries are likely to find reasons to disagree with something or other that the EU proposes. Spain is a typical example of a country that tends to blindly accept everything coming from Brussels, and yet in the last week there have murmurs of discontent about the new working time rules. Would the same people who are insisting on pushing the treaty through over the objections of a "minority" be so keen if the treaty contained things *they* didn't like? The fallacy is to assume that EU treaties mean particular kinds of policies (more workers' rights, more social policies). The Dutch and the French voted "no" in part because they disliked some of the "liberal" content of the constitution.

    No future is possible for the EU unless democracy is respected and Brussels stops trying to ratchet up its power to ever-higher levels.

    If a "constitution" had been proposed that were four or five pages long, and started by clearly delineating and forever limiting the powers of the centre, it would have a sent a positive signal out to all member states.

    Instead what we got was another attempt to grab power by stealth. That strategy is now gettings its just rewards.

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  • 53. At 5:45pm on 20 Jun 2008, World_saver_HH wrote:

    Mark, please let me share with you and with your readers my thoughts on the issue of Lisbon. This (long) comment is only a small fragment of all I have already elaborated within several essays (see References).

    For those who might think that my views are 'scaremongering', I recommend them to actually read the Lisbon Treaty as I have. For those who can read behind the lawyer's mambo-jumbo jargon can see our future laid down in the very text of the treaty. Beyond the text itself what we should consider with utmost priority is the very process a new constitution is introduced in a region, by whom and through what philosophy.
    (Questions for the far-wrong side of Lisbon

    My writings are for those for whom the word "freedom, democracy and rule of law" are meaningful concepts, and would agree that we should preserve these or restore in practice . History is the very evidence that no dictatorship, especially when combined with imperial/colonising ambitions, has ever brought prosperity and security for humankind; these have always led to wars, all forms of violence and suppression of rights, suffering, poverty, conflicts, misery and death of many. Although the rich or distinguished classes may have been in a privileged status at the start, this status could change at any time and drastically in an unstable environment. In many cases those who enjoyed a place in the upper segments of the dictatorial hierarchy were often victimised much earlier than those within the lower classes.

    Why do I use the words "dictatorship, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, colonising, war, etc" when evaluating the EU's philosophy? Please read my articles - the appropriateness of these terms is fully substantiated in them. Before these writings let me provide a collection of the main points on the most vital recent issues.

    Ireland has rejected the Lisbon Treaty with a decisive majority and very high turnout, period. Yet, the EU declared the dead Lisbon Treaty still ‘alive’. The fallacious premise the EU has chosen as a basis for continuing to justify the unjustifiable course of Lisbon: “the Treaty has been ratified by 18 states” (by now 19). The factual premise however is this: 1) The Lisbon Treaty has been rejected by Ireland; 2) The Lisbon Treaty, in its earlier form as the ‘EU Constitution’, had already been rejected by France and Netherlands long before the said 18 countries started to ratify it under a new name. For many of the NO voters one of the main reasons to reject the Lisbon Treaty has been the fact that the Lisbon Treaty is already a dead treaty to begin with.

    It is getting more and more cumbersome to repeat the above blatant facts all over again; nevertheless, if we are told the same lie one million times, we need to correct it one million times. It is our obligation and responsibility toward the past, present and future generations to protect our country from becoming the part of a federal regime established on cynical lies.
    Referring to the ‘acceptance’ of a document by 19 states, including the member states which already rejected the same document (France, Netherlands) or by those states which have never been given the constitutional right to decide about it (e.g. UK, Denmark), is a cynical lie that needs to be corrected every time the EU is trying to use these lies to justify the unjustifiable course of Lisbon.

    The leaders of Europe are exactly aware that the nearly 500 million voters of Europe do NOT want and do NOT need any of their suggested "EU-reforms" (they either want no reforms or reforms to democraticise the EU) and they strongly oppose any Union-level constitutional arrangement without the agreement of the voters. (This is why the EU disguised the former EU Constitution to appear as a harmless "reform treaty" named as "Lisbon Treaty."). Every time when the same old and dead constitution is rejected by a member state the EU sees a "problem" that the solution is not to focus on the revision of their concept but on the question how to eliminate the source of any rejection of their concept.

    In contrast with the alleged “problems” the EU strives to solve without any constitutional legitimacy, the real "problem" Europe is facing how to make sure that the EU would finally let the old, rejected treaty rest in peace, and go ahead with drafting a BRAND NEW TREATY, offering it for the acceptance by the voters of all member states and with a new content which would open the way for a profound democratisation of the EU. One may start to seriously wonder how many times, in how many forms and how many of us should yell this message into those deaf ears of Brussels before it would be heard.

    Now again: after the rejection of Lisbon by Ireland the leaders of Europe view the decision of a member state as a "problem that needs to be solved" rather than a decision to be accepted as per agreement, and this is a blatant violation against international law and has revealed the truth that the entire ratification process is a meaningless charade to imitate democracy in the EU. Instead of obeying the existing international agreement among 27 states, the imperial classes are busy searching for new creative ways to continue to impose the Lisbon Treaty on the member states, regardless of its rejection by Ireland. The very same boots that have been walking over the Dutch and the French rejections of its earlier version in 2005 are now walking over the Irish decision on the Lisbon Treaty.

    According to the latest news Ireland will have to go for a "second vote", but they say, the people of Ireland cannot be bullied into a second referendum. These two contradictory pieces of information are together likely to mean that the second vote will be done by the national parliament of Ireland. Does any of us have a shred of doubt about the outcome of such a 'vote'? Needless to say that the result of such 'vote' is already prescribed and inscribed in stones.

    The EU should keep international agreements, step back from the treaty now that Ireland rejected it, and should refrain from further lies.
    However, if the EU insists that Europe’s ‘problems’ can be solved only WITHOUT the agreement of its 500 million voters and only with a version of the same old rejected treaty - THAT is not only the real problem of Europe, but in objective political-philosophical terms it is much more than a "problem". Such an act of political violence is a declaration of civil war by the EU-leaders against half a billion people. We are about losing our countries, our democracy and our freedom to a federal leadership that performs the power-grab over Europe. Our life will be at the mercy of leaders who cannot imagine a European treaty without a COSI, without an Europol, Eurojust, a lack of permanent state-commissioner and undefined crimes to punish its citizens, etc.

    After the ‘hard work’ of 7 years to draft and redraft a flawed and anti-democratic constitution and after so many rejections by the electorate, the current leaders of Europe are still unable or unwilling to offer Europe anything else than the ‘hard work’ to find innovatively dishonest ways to ignore the rejections of their electorate. If the EU-leaders remain unable and/or unwilling to work out a truly democratic ‘plan B’, then it is about time that they would finally draw the democratic conclusion: step down and give the task over to a new leadership.

    If the rest of Europe keeps waiting for Ireland or wishfully hopes that another country's (= their parliament's) "decision" will solve the Lisbon problem and does not actually start taking tangible actions against the more and more threatening EU-dictatorship, everyone may start reading or rereading Orwell's books to obtain a fresh glimpse into our near future. Those who don't believe me, just read the Lisbon Treaty as I have: it is all in there.

    I thank you in advance for your and all readers' attention.


    Questions for the far-wrong side of Lisbon

    Is there a democratic life after a dead Lisbon Treaty?

    Lisbon Treaty: national level competences to be transferred to the EU

    Our future under a ratified Lisbon Treaty – I.

    Other readings:

    “Voting No for a reason: Lisbon Treaty OR a Europe of democracy”

    "Voting NO to Lisbon: to keep our homes, families and economic strength"

    “Top Reasons to Vote NO to Lisbon Treaty”

    “Summary of the Lisbon Treaty research”

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  • 54. At 2:33pm on 21 Jun 2008, mcdv1975 wrote:

    No 2nd referendum anywhere before a 1st referendum everywhere.

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  • 55. At 6:11pm on 21 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    52. At 5:37pm on 20 Jun 2008, englishmaninmadrid wrote:

    "Spain is a typical example of a country that tends to blindly accept everything coming from Brussels".

    This is a particular way to call a loyal and grateful attitude from Spain towards the Union where it belongs to since 1985.

    You may find better words to describe the Pole twins obstructive role within the EU until a year ago, or the current Czech velvet No to Lisbon, when this two EU subsidies recipient countries have just joined the club.

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  • 56. At 3:32pm on 23 Jun 2008, Brussleman wrote:

    So this third attempt at a Federal State/constitution is a 'reform' treaty aimed at institutional reform?
    Strange then that the monthly Strasbourg circus' is not addressed or even mentioned among the circa 270 pages.
    Transferring the Parliament every month from Brussels to Strasbourg is costing the EU taxpayer billions,,,,The Irish are not as ad hoc as they appear so there must be a reason why one of the most EU friendly countries called a time out for this and myriad reasons. By the way only the Uk and Eire are true Europeans as they alone welcomed all the 10 eastern countries as resident with equql rights after accession in 2004.Breath-taking hypocracy n'est pas?

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  • 57. At 5:21pm on 23 Jun 2008, David Pritchard wrote:

    55. At 6:11pm on 21 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    52. At 5:37pm on 20 Jun 2008, englishmaninmadrid wrote:

    "Spain is a typical example of a country that tends to blindly accept everything coming from Brussels".

    This is a particular way to call a loyal and grateful attitude from Spain towards the Union where it belongs to since 1985.

    "Loyal and grateful" does not exclude "critical", surely? You have made my point. Spain and many other members have particular reasons for being enthusiastic about the EU, and that blinds them to the EU's failings. It prevents them from analysing dispassionately the proposals that come from Brussels. The Peseta was given up in favour of the Euro with barely any debate at all - is that healthy? Is doesn't matter what your view is of the rights and wrongs of the Euro or the Lisbon Treaty, it's about democracy. Democracy means not blindly trusting the wise technocrats in Brussels.

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  • 58. At 11:58am on 24 Jun 2008, smfcbuddie wrote:


    Perhaps we have a differing views of co-operation or compromise. One definition that I find useful regarding the former is

    'an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action.'

    On the other hand, compromise can be defined as

    'an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims.'

    From my perspective, Governments can willingly enter into areas of co-operation without any particular impediment. However, when they wish to compromise, then there is an obligation upon the government to consult the people. Signing treaties, ignoring referenda, and ratifying through parliament are all ways in which disreputable governments are seen to operate in order to avoid listening to their electorate.

    If individuals wish to associate themselves with such practices, then fine. I would rather see a democratic process take place. On the face of it, so too would the voters in Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

    Having said this, I do not expect this UK government to do anything other than impose the Treaty on its citizens. They will do so on several false promises, which they may or may not be allowed to keep to. Either way, there will be posters on a web site such as this in several years time arguing the case that we were lied to in 1975 and then again in 2008. Unfortunately, there will be others who will argue that all is fair in reaching greater co-operation through ever greater compromise.

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  • 59. At 09:24am on 30 Jun 2008, evastainer wrote:

    Ireland's "no" demonstrates: 1:26 = 27 losers
    500 million Europeans are taken in hostage by 862,415 Irish (less than 0.2% of the European population) - in the name of democracy. According to the elitist representative democrats this is the direct democrat's fault, i.e. the "uneducated and unteachable people".
    Because: in a democracy the tool democracy can only be always right. In Ireland it was however employed wrongly. For a pan-European concern however, only the pan-European referendum can be the correct means.
    In the EU the sovereign are the 500 million Europeans - and not a slight Irish referendum's majority. Regarding the current archaic principle of unanimity it could even appear more bizarrely: even Malta or Cyprus could by their 315,000 resp. 500,000 eligible voters bring the EU to a final halt. Good gracious!
    No matter whether for or against the EU: we should not be lead by a handful of nationalists. For important matters we do need a pan-European referendum! The Treaty of Lisbon would have given us this power! Although its fate is uncertain at the moment, we have to become active for the EU's future, i.e. our future. Let us demand a pan-European referendum for all important EU-matters, such as enlargement, environmental issues, the future election of EU president etc. There is the possibility to stand up in an organized way and to vote at the citizens' platform: Let's change Europe - now!

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