It has taken me the rest of the week to get around to answering some of the reasons why JL Pagano has decided he is voting yes to the Lisbon Treaty on June 12th. This is not because I’ve been rocking in a paroxysm of rage in the corner with Ms 73man feeding me through a tube but because it has been that kind of week at work. I want to be as fair as I can to JL (unlike his commenter) so I am going to deal with each point individually:
“1. IT DOESN’T SEEM TOO BAD ON THE FACE OF IT”
Not a great start but here goes. Saying that the Treaty does not seem too bad on the face of it is the grossest example of book cover judging I’ve read in these parts for some time. If the Treaty is an attempt to tidy up the bureaucratic structures of an expanded Union then why was this not done in advance of admitting 10 new members in 2004? Surely 15 members needed as much bureaucratic housekeeping as 12 or even 7? Even Dick Roche states that this Treaty is 95% of the old Constitution which the French and Danish rejected in the last decade.
“2. IRELAND HAS BENEFITTED FROM BEING IN THE EU.”
A truism if ever there was one. Ireland has also benefited from being a member of UEFA and don’t get me started with that shower. Voting No to a proposal by the EU governments does not represent biting the hand that feeds us because we accrued these benefits (massive agricultural subsidies, enormous pots of cash for roads and equality legislation that recognised women in the workplace) by virtue of our membership and are not dependent on us being ‘good Europeans’ – whatever that is. Poland and the nine other recent members are now the recipients of net gains that we got in the 70s and 80s – no problem there but that does not mean we should just lie back and think of Brussels when we offer ourselves up for Constitutional reform. Bitter pills and nasty medicine and all that.
“3. THE REST OF EUROPE SEEMS TO WANT IT.”
Our right to reject something the rest of Europe never had an opportunity to vote on remains. JL says “I don’t remember hearing of any mass demonstrations on the streets of those countries suggesting the majority of people feel they’ve been hard done by”. I say well, that’s precisely why Irish citizens voting on it is all the more important. Without so much as a by your leave, the French Assembly met in session and gave it the once over – as their citizens protested outside about who undemocratic the process is. If all legislation and constitutional change was brought about in this way, we might as well not vote at all, in any election, local or national. I believe that the lack of protest only goes to show how disenfranchised people have become in recent decades with the uncontested ‘European project’. When the ‘governments’ of Europe met in 1815 in Vienna, they were no more democratic than what went on in Lisbon, December 2007.
“4. THE DEFENCE THING.”
What can be voted on unanimously and using a qualified majority can change if the Treaty jumps the Irish hurdle. Notice how the text in this link doesn’t even mention the word unanimity? Frankly I am not concerned by the whole Irish army partaking in ‘joint military exercises’ guff because we have seen the Irish army taking part in these exercises anyway in the Nordic Battle Group (fear them and their use of snow). I trust the Irish army (a force borne from colonial experience) enough to know when to take part and when not to. As part of the peace keeping role they’ve built up over 50 years, they’ve proven themselves to be able to do their jobs well. I would be concerned about the use of Irish troops in defending Europe’s resource interests outside of its borders though.