EU 2009 open thread

In which we discuss the European Union Treaty of Lisbon, due to come into force in 2009. Irish state broadcaster RTE is sticking to its earlier prediction (based on the Irish specialty of “tallymen” who watch the ballots as they are being sorted) that the Treaty has been rejected. See RTE news updates and Irish Election for blog commentary.  Plenty of space on Doug’s post too.

35 thoughts on “EU 2009 open thread

  1. Quick analysis: the leadership change in the ruling Fianna Fail party was extremely damaging. It had FF engaged in beatification of the outgoing leader and coronation of the incoming one when the referendum campaign should have been in full swing. The new leader then enraged the pro-Lisbon opposition by implying that they hadn’t been campaigning hard enough for it.

  2. I feel that it is rather inappropriate to ignore the voices of the 26 countries which decided to form a Union based on the Lisbon treaty only because Ireland voted ‘No’.

    Rejecting the treaty is obviously their right. However the EU should try to move forward and implement the treaty, anyway. This also means that Ireland would have to leave the Union. However I think a new status for Ireland can be found, as a part of a free trade zone with Europe, which would allow the country to keep its full sovereignty over things like its foreign and defense policy, but wouldn’t stop the rest of the EU.

  3. Damn.

    What annoys me about the No vote/campaigners in Ireland is that they based much of their campaign on misinformation (regarding abortions, taxation, etc.). There are legitimate arguments to be made that the Lisbon Treaty should be rejected (the fact that I disagree with them is irrelevant); however, the arguments made instead played on base and exaggerated fears. It just makes me a little mad to see that the treaty was rejected on a misrepresented basis.

    In terms of the EU as a whole, Croatia’s got to deserve a little pity; it’s not going to be admitted to the EU until the EU sorts out its own internal problems. I’m also curious to see what the hyperactive Sarkozy will do during the French Presidency as a result of the rejection.

  4. Also, in response to rz: while that may sound appealing, it’s also realistically/politically unfeasible. As far as I know, there’s no method of ejecting a country from the EU. The closest that the EU would have come to a policy like that was in the Lisbon Treaty, which had a mechanism whereby countries could leave.

  5. “Also, in response to rz: while that may sound appealing, it’s also realistically/politically unfeasible.”

    Essentially I agree with you. It is unlikely that anybody in the Union is going to do what I recommended. But regardless, establishing a Union based on the Lisbon Treaty and giving Ireland some special status would be the only just way to deal with this outcome.

  6. Though, to alter rz’s idea a bit, the Economist had an idea a little while back that if the Lisbon Treaty did not succeed, Europe could become “multi-speed.” Namely, those countries that wanted to integrate faster and further would do so, whereas countries like the UK could stay where they were now. In that sense, you could “kick” Ireland out, because (presumably) they would want to have no part in the deeper integration, and thus less control over EU decisions.

  7. The lead option being discussed as a Plan B (despite denials that such a thing existed) was a revote in Ireland with an added Ireland-only tax protocol (confirming that the Irish corporate tax rate can’t be changed at the EU level), to peel off one of the more potent (if untrue) No arguments. But the credibility of such an exercise will be weak. Other parliaments still in the ratification process will surely notice. It looks like Ireland has definitively joined a northern Eurosceptic group (Denmark, Sweden, UK).

  8. The BBC’s Mark Mardell is reporting that “The plan is that all other countries will press ahead with backing the treaty. I am told Gordon Brown has phoned the French president to assure him that is what he will do.”

    Is there a chance that one of the more Eurosceptic nations refuses to ratify, at least without concessions (I’m looking at you, Czech Republic)?

  9. P O’Neill: Quick analysis: the leadership change in the ruling Fianna Fail party was extremely damaging. It had FF engaged in beatification of the outgoing leader and coronation of the incoming one when the referendum campaign should have been in full swing. The new leader then enraged the pro-Lisbon opposition by implying that they hadn’t been campaigning hard enough for it.

    P, can you hold off on the Fine Gael spin for just a while?

    Had Bertie Ahern remained as FF party leader, the “Yes” campaign would have been even a deader duck than it ended up being. Having a campaign led by a man who was having to explain how large sterling sums ended up in his bank account due to fortunate wins on the horses would have resulted in a 60-65% “No” vote. The leadership change was messy but essential for there to be any hope of a “Yes”.

    rz:

    I feel that it is rather inappropriate to ignore the voices of the 26 countries which decided to form a Union based on the Lisbon treaty only because Ireland voted ‘No’.

    So instead you advocate expelling the one country which actually consulted its citizens directly.

  10. I wonder if Valery Giscard d’Estaing is thinking “I told you so” (in French). One of the many arguments against the treaty is that it couldn’t be read as a coherent document, since it was an amending treaty. Maybe he thinks his 440 pages (or whatever it was) would have dealt with that.

  11. I wonder if Valery Giscard d’Estaing is thinking “I told you so” (in French).

    Perhaps he might be, but he did the “Yes” side nothing but harm yesterday.

  12. Humph. Not a good day.

    If Bertie has stayed he would have dragged down the treaty anyway: he should have left before Christmas when it became clear that that was going to happen. Instead he hung on.

    A tax protocol will be insufficient to get a second run passed. I don’t know what will. On the other hand, renegotiation was a plank of several of the No campaigns, so in principle they should have a hard time complaining against a second vote with some sort of changes.

    I’ll also point out that most of the No campaigners claim to be pro-EU, just that this treaty is a bad deal for all the EU. I don’t think you can read anti-EU sentiment into this rejection.

  13. I wonder if the grand unifying theory is simply that Irish people are “conservative” in the sense of resisting change. Both the general election last year and this result can be read in that light — they were being offered something uncertain in both cases versus a known status quo and did not like it. Referenda results have been tight all the way back to the 1980s on many issues except where there was massive national consensus (e.g. Good Friday). It’s interesting that party positions in opinion polls have been so resilient despite the bad economic news over the last year.

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  15. No, I think that too many people are grumpy at the government here at the moment and are using this as an opportunity to punish them. Same as in the French and Danish referendums. I don’t think it mattered what was in the Treaty.

    (Rambling related comment thread on European Tribune if anyone cares.)

  16. “I feel that it is rather inappropriate to ignore the voices of the 26 countries which decided to form a Union based on the Lisbon treaty only because Ireland voted ‘No’”

    I have a better idea. Since all of the citizens who’ve had a chance to vote have rejected the treaty and constitution, their wishes should not be over-ridden.

    However, since the negotiating teams who wrote the treaty, and the parliaments who approved it, are in favour, those people should secede from the EU and go form their own, new EU somewhere else. Maybe we can hand Maastricht over to them?

  17. “So instead you advocate expelling the one country which actually consulted its citizens directly.”

    I did not advocate ‘expelling’ Ireland. I think of it more as a “Multi-Speed” Europe. Ireland should definitely stay part of some type of economic union and of the monetary union.

  18. I did not advocate ‘expelling’ Ireland.

    You said:

    This also means that Ireland would have to leave the Union.

    I don’t see the difference, frankly – and entrenching the image of the EU as a bully that threatens small countries with removal from the Union unless they do what they’re told is only asking for worse problems in the long run.

  19. I saw a graph at Skyscrapercity of reasons why the Irish said no (original source unknown)
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=21684839#post21684839

    Neither it nor any interview, analysis, or survey I’ve seen indicates a high degree of Euroscepticism. By the way, that goes for the Czech Republic as well. In any survey it ends up squarely in the middle of the EU countries, while Ireland is generally EU-friendly.

    I think Giscard d’Estaing has a good part of the blame for why the “Constitution” didn’t get through in the first place.

  20. Most inconvenient of Ireland to actually let its people have a say on what happens to them. Why can’t they be more like more advanced european countries and just railroad it through?

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  23. Ray, the whole point is that in a representative democracy, people vote for other people who make decisions instead of the voters. That’s the way it works; otherwise, we could have referenda on every issue (the Swiss seem particularly keen on “direct democracy”).

    Multi-speed Europe, although it seems like a good idea, also seems very tough to implement, at least without additional bureaucracy. For example, would the more integrated part of the EU still use the Lisbon Treaty? How would the role of the president of that integrated part work within the EU as a whole? etc.

  24. We give those who are our representatives power to act in our place. We don’t give them power to give this power away, as it is not theirs in the first place.

  25. So, Toader, you really think ignoring the votes of the only three countries to have referenda is the best way to reduce the democratic deficit, overcome euro-scepticism, and build support for further integration?

  26. @Ray:
    A total of 5 countries voted either on the Constitution or the Reform Treaty. Spain and Luxemburg voted in favor of it.

  27. @ Ray:

    The thing is, the referenda in the three countries (well, Ireland at least) that rejected the Constitution/Lisbon Treaty also included false information (about abortions, tax rates, etc.). At the point where people vote on false information, it is no longer a true vote on the actual issue at hand. Also, many people use EU referendums to voice displeasure at their own government as much as they do to vote on the actual treaty in question. Lastly, it’s possible to safely say that most of Eastern Europe and Southern Europe would have approved the treaty in referendums. And direct democracy is not always the most liberal course of action (see http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/minorities-and-integration/illiberal-direct-democracy/).

    Just as it would be illegitimate to have the rest of the EU impose its will on Ireland and force Ireland to approve the treaty, it is, if not technically illegitimate, extremely maddening that Ireland can impose its will on the rest of the EU.

  28. okay then, we’ll just have to have a vote – referendum or election, I don’t mind – where everybody is completely informed about the issues at hand and ignores all false information, and use that as the basis for the decision. that should be easy enough to organise and agree on.

  29. The most annoying thing is the level of misinformation, like this idea that the EUC or LT passed nowhere by referendum.

  30. The treaty of Lisbon indeed passed nowhere by referendum.
    Ray, who decides what is relevant for the issue at hand?

  31. Sure, I don’t see why that would be a problem.

    I realize that it may be impossible to get rid of all the wrong ideas people have about the issues they’re voting on (whether for or against the treaty), but I object to purposefully reinforcing those misconceptions.

  32. What is an issue at hand? If we were to vote on road construction, would you allow us to consider the effect of increased fuel consumption on the likelihood of war in the Persian Gulf?

    If I think the treaty would in the long run leading to the member states losing the power over war and peace, would that be relevant? You can rightly argue the current treaty doesn’t say so, but I might answer that I might not be allowed to vote later on, so I better stop it now, while I can.

    Apart from factual errors about the actual text, which are trivial, can you think about a way that is neutral and based on facts to determine which effects the treaty would have had? Or which of them we are allowed to consider?

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