Thursday, April 17, 2008


EU havin' a laugh?

'They cannot be serious', 'This can't be right', 'How are they getting away with this?' These are just some of the thoughts that came to my mind whilst going through the European Union's consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty.

Yes they finally published the treaty to their website and it's an excellent opportunity for people to learn about the agenda that the suits in Brussels have in store for all of us.

The Treaty can be read here:

Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union

It is written out in several languages. Obviously I read the Gaelic version. OK that's a lie. But I did read it in full and boy is it one heck of a read. If you get through all of it in one sitting may I commend you because I couldn't manage it. It is a tome and a half and gives credence to the claims of Kieran Allen, editor of, who told a Dáil committee of Yes supporting ministers last week that they were trying to "frighten and bore" people into voting Yes.

While it is true that the vast bulk of the Treaty's content is an insomniac's dream, significant portions of it should set alarm bells ringing for the electorate in Ireland. The Lisbon Treaty transfers sovereignty away from Ireland and gives a disturbing amount of power to the European Council. The Council is the highest political body in the EU and is made up of the heads of government of the EU member states. It gets significant powers if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. Forget the New World Order - this is the New European Order.

Here are some elements of the Treaty which concern me greatly. Firstly let's look at the language used in the preamble because you can tell a lot from a constitution, which this is, from its preamble...

RESOLVED to implement a common foreign and security policy including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence in accordance with the provisions of Article 42, thereby reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and in the world

RESOLVED to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity

IN VIEW of further steps to be taken in order to advance European integration

A common defence policy? Reinforcing the European identity and its independence? The principle of subsidiarity? Advancing European integration?

It reads like a blueprint for a European Superstate. Oh wait...IT IS. Let's begin with the serious stuff. Article 5...

Article 5.3. The institutions of the Union shall apply the principle of subsidiarity as laid down in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. National Parliaments ensure compliance with the principle of subsidiarity in accordance with the procedure set out in that Protocol.

It sure does make it clear where the power lies. Not with the national parliaments, you know those places where the citizens of nation-states elect people to look after their affairs. No, instead national parliaments "ensure compliance with the principle of subsidiarity". More on this later.

Article 10.3. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.

This sure is a noble aspiration don't you think? But it begs the question - why then are the British, Dutch and French electorates being denied a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if all citizens have the right to participate in democracy? Surely that would be the case in a Union that talks about decision-making being as 'open' and 'as closely as possible' to the citizen, right? Could it be that they are talking out of their backsides? Let's cut straight to the rough stuff. Article 16...

Article 16. 1. The Council shall, jointly with the European Parliament, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall carry out policy-making and coordinating functions as laid down in the Treaties.

2. The Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level, who may commit the government of the Member State in question and cast its vote.

3. The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise.

4. As from 1 November 2014, a qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65 % of the population of the Union.

A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.

This is what I was talking about when I said that the Council attains too much authority. From 2014, the voting powers of Ireland become reduced and if we want to block something that we find to be objectionable, we must request other members of the Council to come to our aid. Supposing they don't want to? I guess it's just too damn bad for us then. This is sovereignty? Crawling on our bellies to other member-states asking them not to implement proposals that we might object to? Unbelievable.

Article 24. 3. The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union's action in this area.

That seems quite threatening to our position of neutrality. We have been told that our neutral position will not be compromised by the Lisbon Treaty and that certain articles won't apply but...well, I have my doubts. I also don't like the language or tone that is used here. It's almost Stalin-esque. I thought the paragraph immediately after that was interesting from a British point of view. It reads...

The Member States shall work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations.

Such as the British decision to participate in the War in Iraq, perhaps? How would something like that fit into the equation? Article 26 is interesting from an Irish perspective...

Article 26. 1 The European Council shall identify the Union's strategic interests, determine the objectives of and define general guidelines for the common foreign and security policy, including for matters with defence implications. It shall adopt the necessary decisions.

This seems to suggest that Ireland's foreign and security policy powers will be significantly curtailed should the Treaty be endorsed. Article 28 continues on the issue of security and is very interesting from an Irish point of view...

Article 28. 1. 1. Where the international situation requires operational action by the Union, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions. They shall lay down their objectives, scope, the means to be made available to the Union, if necessary their duration, and the conditions for their implementation.

If there is a change in circumstances having a substantial effect on a question subject to such a decision, the Council shall review the principles and objectives of that decision and take the necessary decisions.

2. Decisions referred to in paragraph 1 shall commit the Member States in the positions they adopt and in the conduct of their activity.

3. Whenever there is any plan to adopt a national position or take national action pursuant to a decision as referred to in paragraph 1, information shall be provided by the Member State concerned in time to allow, if necessary, for prior consultations within the Council. The obligation to provide prior information shall not apply to measures which are merely a national transposition of Council decisions.

4. In cases of imperative need arising from changes in the situation and failing a review of the Council decision as referred to in paragraph 1, Member States may take the necessary measures as a matter of urgency having regard to the general objectives of that decision. The Member State concerned shall inform the Council immediately of any such measures.

5. Should there be any major difficulties in implementing a decision as referred to in this Article, a Member State shall refer them to the Council which shall discuss them and seek appropriate solutions. Such solutions shall not run counter to the objectives of the decision referred to in paragraph 1 or impair its effectiveness.

This all seems very worrying and suggests that nation-states will be totally subservient to the whims of the European Council on matters of foreign policy and security. 'The Council shall adopt the necessary decisions'? Article 5 is the one I'm most concerned about. If there are concerns the matter is referred to the Council however we are told solutions "shall not run counter to the objectives" or "impair its effectiveness" which makes you wonder how useful any 'solution' would be...

The really alarming stuff for me concerns the power the European Council has with respect to voting and these issues are discussed in Article 31. The first Article outlines the powers nation-states have when abstaining on an issue that the Council is set to vote on. This is the real test of sovereignty...

Article 31.1 When abstaining in a vote, any member of the Council may qualify its abstention by making a formal declaration under the present subparagraph. In that case, it shall not be obliged to apply the decision, but shall accept that the decision commits the Union. In a spirit of mutual solidarity, the Member State concerned shall refrain from any action likely to conflict with or impede Union action based on that decision and the other Member States shall respect its position. If the members of the Council qualifying their abstention in this way represent at least one third of the Member States comprising at least one third of the population of the Union, the decision shall not be adopted.

What does it mean by 'In a spirit of mutual solidarity' the nation-state that has an issue with EU Council policy 'shall refrain from any action likely to conflict with or impede Union action'? Are they setting boundaries on how members states can object to policies? Reads that way to me. Articles 2 and 3 continue to be causes for concern...

2. By derogation from the provisions of paragraph 1, the Council shall act by qualified majority:

- when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position on the basis of a decision of the European Council relating to the Union's strategic interests and objectives, as referred to in Article 22(1),

- when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position, on a proposal which the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has presented following a specific request from the European Council, made on its own initiative or that of the High Representative,

- when adopting any decision implementing a decision defining a Union action or position,
when appointing a special representative in accordance with Article 33.

If a member of the Council declares that, for vital and stated reasons of national policy, it intends to oppose the adoption of a decision to be taken by qualified majority, a vote shall not be taken. The High Representative will, in close consultation with the Member State involved, search for a solution acceptable to it. If he does not succeed, the Council may, acting by a qualified majority, request that the matter be referred to the European Council for a decision by unanimity.

The wording above seems very suspect to me. If a member of the Council, i.e. Ireland, decides to oppose something, they won't take a vote on the matter. Sounds good right? Then you read on and find out that the 'High Representative' will talk it out with the member state involved, in this example Ireland, and will "search for a solution acceptable". If no solution is found, the Council will decide on the matter. So therefore a vote WILL be taken even if no solution is found. How is this acceptable to anyone who values national sovereignty? It is worth noting that Article 31. 4 states:

Paragraphs 2 and 3 shall not apply to decisions having military or defence implications.

I'm guessing this is the bit that is supposed to reassure us that our neutrality won't be threatened by the treaty? Perhaps someone can clarify this issue for me as I'm a bit perplexed by it.

Article 36 is a notable one in light of my earlier 'New European Order' comment at the beginning of the post. If you have a read of it perhaps you'll understand why I used the term. Again I've highlighted the bits I deem to be dangerous...

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy and inform it of how those policies evolve. He shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.

The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council or make recommendations to it and to the High Representative. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.

Now the European Parliament is the only directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union and yet it seems it will be reduced to little more than a talking shop. The 'High Representative' seems to have responsibility for instructing the Parliament on the Council's plans and all the E.P. can do is 'ask questions' or 'make recommendations'. I find this troubling.

There is a special Protocol designed to apply to the UK and Ireland protecting certain rights that we as close neighbours currently enjoy. Most of it is quite heavy (quelle surprise), and tough to make out, but Article 4 caught my eye as it pertains to the Council's voting powers yet again...

Article 4a

1. The provisions of this Protocol apply for the United Kingdom and Ireland also to measures proposed or adopted pursuant to Title V of Part Three* of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union amending an existing measure by which they are bound.

2. However, in cases where the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, determines that the non-participation of the United Kingdom or Ireland in the amended version of an existing measure makes the application of that measure inoperable for other Member States or the Union, it may urge them to make a notification under Article 3 or 4. For the purposes of Article 3, a further period of two months starts to run as from the date of such determination by the Council.

If at the expiry of that period of two months from the Council's determination the United Kingdom or Ireland has not made a notification under Article 3 or Article 4, the existing measure shall no longer be binding upon or applicable to it, unless the Member State concerned has made a notification under Article 4 before the entry into force of the amending measure. This shall take effect from the date of entry into force of the amending measure or of expiry of the period of two months, whichever is the later.

For the purpose of this paragraph, the Council shall, after a full discussion of the matter, act by a qualified majority of its members representing the Member States participating or having participated in the adoption of the amending measure. A qualified majority of the Council shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

3. The Council, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, may determine that the United Kingdom or Ireland shall bear the direct financial consequences, if any, necessarily and unavoidably incurred as a result of the cessation of its participation in the existing measure.

So it would seem to me that the Council has considerable influence over Ireland and the UK with respect to such 'measures' and the last section almost reads like a warning against taking issue with the Council's authority.

There is a section near the end of this beast of a document detailing 'Provisions Concerning the Qualified Majority'. It spells out the power of the various member's votes. Here it is...

For acts of the European Council and of the Council requiring a qualified majority, members' votes shall be weighted as follows:

Belgium 12
Bulgaria 10
Czech Republic 12
Denmark 7
Germany 29
Estonia 4
Ireland 7
Greece 12
Spain 27
France 29
Italy 29
Cyprus 4
Latvia 4
Lithuania 7
Luxembourg 4
Hungary 12
Malta 3
Netherlands 13
Austria 10
Poland 27
Portugal 12
Romania 14
Slovenia 4
Slovakia 7
Finland 7
Sweden 10
United Kingdom 29

So there you see it is abundantly clear that the power of the Council is considerable and as the above information shows, Ireland's say in the Council is minimal. If the Lisbon Treaty is endorsed it's fair to say that Irish independence, as we now know it, will become a thing of the past and we will be RELIANT UPON OTHERS to decide our own fate.

That is not what I want for my country and I suspect the majority of my compatriots feel the same. The unfortunate thing is that the Irish government and the EU are deliberately keeping people in the dark on this matter. It's hardly a surprise. The French were made very aware of the implications the EU Constitution would have. The result? Turnout was over 70% and they rejected it. Brussels doesn't want a repeat performance of that here in Ireland.

Well a repeat performance is exactly what's required. I urge people to read up on the Lisbon Treaty and come to your own conclusions. Don't be taken in by those who wish to frighten you into voting Yes for fear of 'economic ramifications' and the 'damaging of Ireland's reputation' and other such blarney nonsense.

I favour a Europe of equals but this document does not offer that. I won't pretend that I know every detail of what this treaty entails (does anyone?) but I feel I know enough about it, and about the EU itself, to know that this is not a good deal for Ireland and that it will be harmful to us in the long run. I found many admirable things in the Lisbon Treaty but the fact is they are overshadowed by the negative aspects that are also included.

The referendum on the issue in Ireland takes place in June. The British have been denied a referendum despite being promised one. The Dutch and French voters have been denied a referendum despite rejecting the EU Constitution (which is the Lisbon Treaty). How lucky we are in Ireland that we have a say on this Treaty and how bloody foolish we would be to give it the seal of approval!

I don't believe the struggle for Irish independence was about surrendering what was won to Brussels. I don't believe those brave men and women who put their lives on the line to get us out of a Union that didn't listen to us, did so in order for the current generation to sign us into a Union that likewise will not listen to us.

Make your own minds up on the matter as I have done. I shall be voting NO TO LISBON.

I welcome all opinions on this issue.


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