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Lisbon II – What’s Changed?

Last October the Irish people went to the polling booth to have their say on the Lisbon Treaty – the result was a definite NO. The path is now being paved for a second vote on the treaty; So, what’s changed?

Before the first Lisbon vote, many people had a great number of concerns about the Lisbon Treaty’s content. Unusually despite this, every single, major political party supported the YES vote. The public were subjected to the opinions of ministers who openly admitted never reading the treaty document yet were convinced that YES was the only way to vote. After the NO vote won out, the government played out on the back foot for a while; the occasional snipe at the public and various fallacious comments such as how they made the recession worse by voting NO.

In recent times we have heard about the legal agreements sought by the government of Ireland, that would protect the points of concern, as expressed by the public. Concerns that you will remember, did not exist before the last vote as they were supposedly non-issues. However, the government now seems to agree that these are actually issues and has spent a great deal of public monies on legal council and drafting these so-called guarantees. So, the NO vote was right all along, we actually had genuine concerns?

So, the parties’ line is now that these agreements are in place and protect the genuine concerns of the Irish people so we can all be good little EU subordinates and vote YES because they want us to. Every major broadcaster and printed media has conveyed this message to the people and many lobby groups have convinced pockets of voters that YES is now the only option because these guarantees are in place. Very clever PR and electioneering; I take my hat off to the powers that be for conceiving and executing such an incredibly intricate and conniving plan.

What we haven’t heard anything about in the Irish media is how not a single word of the Lisbon Treaty document has been changed. We have also not been told how these guarantees are standalone documents that do not form an appendix to the treaty and that these guarantees are effected now, prior to the impending second vote on the treaty. What we are not being told is that voting YES to this treaty will supercede these guarantees, give power to the EU commission on all future decisions (a commission on which Ireland is still not guaranteed a seat) and allow the EU commission to govern with a treaty that remains unchanged from the original NO vote, still carrying all the concerns of the Irish public (confirmed recently by the Irish government’s actions as being genuine concerns). So essentially, Lisbon II will see the Irish government persuade the Irish citizens to return to the polls and despite ratifying all original fears and concerns, ignore their better judgement and vote YES anyway. This request will be made despite not a single word of the original treaty being changed and our only guarantees of comfort being standalone documents that will be superceded by the treaty coming into effect, rendering them null and void.

While not being one for holding back on what I believe in nor what I think about things, I really am lost for words that the Irish government truly believes that the Irish people are that stupid. I’m further confounded that somehow, lobby groups are managing to persuade certain groups that these hard times are linked to the last NO vote. I’ve always said that the Irish state verged on being Orwellian but am I truly gobsmacked at the blatant, stone-faced, audacity with which this deception is being performed.

Last time I voted NO because of concerns that the Irish government now says are genuine. Nothing has changed and the Irish people are being hoodwinked by clever political manoeuvres and fallacious scaremongering – this time I will be voting NO again, regardless of what anyone says. We’re still at square one.

2 thoughts on “Lisbon II – What’s Changed?”

  1. If the arguments against the treaty are valid, then they should stand up to scrutiny again this time.

    There is very little to hide – the argument was lost last time and the government want to ask the people again. Our European neighbours (represented through their parliaments) also want it and every country is waiting on us now.

    The guarantees don’t change the text of the treaty but supplement it and counter the numerous spurious counter-arguments that swayed so many voters to vote no out of fear.

    The right to a commissioner was removed under Nice once 27 countries joined the EU. Lisbon only defined how the system of *equal* rotation would work. This is one of the factual inaccuracies associated with Lisbon. It’s a moot point as every country has retained the right to one, even if they are the commissioner for bananas.

    I must insist that the rejection of the treaty has done some damage to Ireland. To outsiders, it looks like our commitment to the EU has weakened and that is bad for everything from foreign direct investment (and the jobs that go with it), establishing trade with non-EU countries and it even weakens our negotiating ability with other EU countries on every directive and external treaty that the EU works on collectively.

    The guarantees will not be appended to this treaty as it has already been ratified and submitted and restarting the ratification process in over two dozen countries is nonsensical. It will be just as easily appended to an accession treaty for Croatia or Iceland in the near future. It’s not exactly a conspiracy!

  2. Thanks for the comment Joe – it’s good to hear a considered response; I’m sure that I’ll have several that aren’t. 😉

    The campaign for a YES fell on its face last time around because of a few reasons. Audacity of government ministers telling people how to vote and not ask questions, several high profile ministers admitting on national airwaves that they had not read the document, rumblings from other EU countries of citizens who felt aggrieved that they didn’t have a chance to vote on this and generally that this all looked like a little coup for the political cream that had little value for the opinions of the people. I’m not saying that’s the reality of the implementation but it’s certainly the way that it came across.

    As for the guarantees supplementing the treaty, well that’s not correct. Legally, unless the guarantees actually form an appendix to the treaty document and are signed into being with such, any other subsequent deal/vote will supercede the guarantees and such is the case at the moment as there is no way that the EU will append these documents to the treaty. This makes them as good as null and void.

    On the point of a commissioner. I will grant you that there was some incorrect rumblings about this last time around but the real facts are that only 66% of EU countries will have a commissioner at any 5-year interval. This means that many controlling countries will more than likely always have a commissioner and countries such as Ireland could potentially be without a commissioner for a minimum of 5 years. That’s no spin, just the way that the proposed system will work.

    I would have to totally disagree that the rejection of the treaty has had any impact on Ireland. FDI was hi-tailing it out of the country for years because of our high cost of employment and union controlled work environments, coupled with legislation from the 40’s that effectively runs the country with a iron fist, hindering the operating capacity of business. A country the size of Ireland has very little say in the EU, let’s face it our rejection of the treaty was publicly criticised on international airwaves by impetuous bureaucrats. Imagine if we actually put our hand up on something that actually had an impact on the EU functioning rather than a fat trimming exercise? While many will closely guard the view that Ireland has done itself harm, I certainly will never forget the reaction and exactly how the opinions of Ireland are treated by the EU – it’s not a pretty picture.

    As you say, the guarantees will not be appended to the treaty, indeed it doesn’t make sense to restart a ratification process in all countries – it’s just a pity that all countries’ electorates didn’t have a say first time around. I’m sure that there’s no conspiracy and in all probability, the EU is such a bureaucratic dinosaur that is so weighed down in red tape that nothing will ever change anyway, in terms of its functioning effect. However, I have never signed a blank contract in my life and I certainly would never agree to any YES vote on a matter that demands clarification and requires me to perform my civic duty. To vote YES this time would be wrong considering nothing has changed and all fears remain, only further heightened by the governments recent admission (by action) that these fears are genuine causes for concern. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.

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