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October 02, 2009

Will Ireland Decide The Fate of Europe Today? (Mætenloch)

After years of expanding its powers the European Union is finally at the cusp of becoming a real political state and taking sovereignty over its existing 27 members via the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. The only remaining hurdles before the EU 'goes live' are a referendum by the Irish people and ratification by the current leaders of the Czech Republic and Poland. Both the Czech and Polish governments are expected to sign the treaty so it will come down to the Irish whether it goes into effect.

And today is the day the Irish go to polls to vote on it. Again. Because they already rejected it back in June 2008, but as is typical of the EU they are being forced to re-vote on it in the expectation that they'll 'get it right' this time or else. The Brussels Journal has more details:

The EU leaders want Ireland to vote “yes.” They are intent on forcing the Irish to vote again and again until they say “yes.” In the past weeks, politicians from all over Europe, including Ireland’s own government ministers, have been threatening the Irish people that a second “No”-vote will have serious economic repercussions, although it has not been specified what these repercussions will be.

The referendum this Friday is Ireland’s second referendum in two years on the European Union’s 2007 Treaty of Lisbon. In June 2008, the Irish voted “No” and rejected the treaty. The fact that the Irish are being forced to hold a second referendum on the matter, is indicative of the nature of the EU and the way in which it “consults” its people. The EU is in the habit of giving recalcitrant populations another go if initially they fail to see that what the EU’s leaders have decided for them is best for them.

Back in 2005 the EU tried to pass the 'EU constitution' through public referendums but this failed when the publics in France and the Netherlands voted against it. So the EU leaders repackaged the constitution making it longer (to 76,250 words) and changing the rules for its ratification - now it need only be approved by the governments of the member states rather than their voters.

This was good enough for 26 of the 27 countries to be able to pass it without any pesky public votes. However Ireland's constitution requires any change in the country's sovereignty to be approved by referendum. Hence the need for today's vote.

And the Lisbon Treaty is no ordinary treaty. It really is a change in the nature of the EU and the sovereignty that its 27 member countries currently enjoy:

If Ireland falls in line and ratifies Lisbon, the EU will be empowered to act as a State vis-à-vis other States and its own citizens. It will become a State in its own right, with its own President, Foreign Minister, diplomatic corps and Public Prosecutor. If Ireland votes “yes,” the national governments of the 27 EU member states, rather than representing their States in the EU, will henceforward be representing the EU in their States. And the national parliaments, currently embodying the sovereignty of their nations, will be subordinate to the EU. As the Treaty of Lisbon says: “National Parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union.” They will be obliged, as the imperative “shall” implies, to further the interests of the new Union, rather than those of their own people.

Right now polls in Ireland show the 'Yes' vote leading by 48% to 33% 'No'. So it looks like the EU will finally become the supranational state that its leaders have always wanted. And Tony Blair is in line to be its first president.

Time will tell whether European leaders are really prepared to give up any sovereignty and whether the EU can actually enforce its powers. In this case I'm actually hoping for the usual European fecklessness.

digg this
posted by xgenghisx at 03:51 AM

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