Centre challenges four post-Lisbon falsehoods

Media statement issued on 25 June 2008 by the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre

POLITICAL AND MEDIA commentators who supported the Lisbon Treaty have been insulting and patronising the No-side majority ever since the referendum count.

They have been misrepresenting the post-Lisbon situation in four key respects with a view to re-running the Lisbon referendum next spring and trying to turn Ireland's No into a Yes - almost certainly a futile exercise, which would be full of danger for Ireland's position in the EU.

If they should succeed in their ambition after a majority of the Irish electorate voted in the 12 June referendum, they would be effectively saying to the world that democracy and constitutional procedures in Ireland were a farce.

True democrats on the Yes-side as well as No-side people should be up in arms against any such suggestion. It would make the Irish government a laughing stock. No self-respecting taoiseach could even consider it. Failure to bring it off would end Brian Cowen's political career. Success in bringing it off would destroy the long-term legitimacy of his party.

The four falsehoods being spread by Ireland's Euro-elitists are these:

FALSEHOOD No.1: That the nine EU states still remaining to ratify the Lisbon Treaty have a right to do that and that Ireland could not stop them:

If Taoiseach Brian Cowen had said to his EU colleagues at last week's Brussels "summit" that the Irish people have given their verdict on the Lisbon Treaty and that therefore Ireland could not and would not be ratifying it, the ratification process would have ceased and Lisbon would have had to be opened. Of course Germany, France, the EU Commission and others would have been annoyed at this, for Lisbon endows them with vast extra powers.

The ratifications stopped when the French and Dutch voted No to the previous EU constitution in 2005 and their governments made clear after a pause, including a referendum in Luxembourg, that France and Holland did not intend to re-run their referendums.

Further ratifications by the EU states still remaining to ratify became then clearly pointless. The other EU states respected the French and Dutch governments' decisions by ceasing their ratifications, for an EU Treaty must be approved by all to be able to come into force for any.

British foreign secretary David Miliband pointed this out just after Ireland's referendum. He said that whether the Lisbon Treaty was alive or dead depended on Brian Cowen.

However, unlike the French and Dutch governments after their peoples voted No, taoiseach Cowen did not respect his people's vote. It is therefore Brian Cowen, and he alone, who has effectively decided to keep Lisbon alive, with ministers Michael Martin and Dick Roche at his elbow and the senior diplomats in Iveagh House proffering them thoroughly bad advice.

Brian Cowen will therefore be primarily responsible for the 26/1 situation which he is steering Ireland and the EU towards by the end of this year. Most No-side voters expected Lisbon to be opened and the EU States to draw up a better Treaty. It is Brian Cowen's responsibility that this has not occurred.

He should now be urged to represent the Irish people, and not just a minority of them, at the October-December EU summits and to tell his EU colleagues what he had not the courage to tell them last week: namely, that the majority of Irish voters have voted No to the Lisbon Treaty and that they must stop further ratifications as he does not intend to re-run the referendum, as the French and Dutch leaders said after their No votes in 2005.

FALSEHOOD No.2: That if we do not say Yes in a referendum re-run, Ireland will be "marginalised" or isolated or even expelled from the EU, or that the other EU States will somehow "go ahead" without us:

It is legal and political nonsense to say that the 26 other EU states can in some way "go ahead" without Ireland to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. Or that the others can "leave Ireland behind" in some way. Or that they can somehow "marginalise" Ireland in the EU or even expel us from it!

According to EU law Lisbon can be ratified only if all 27 agree. Any other EU treaty too must be agreed by all 27. People who say otherwise are showing their ignorance or else just nursing their resentment at the 12 June vote and clutching at straws in the hope of reversing it.

Some commentators have also talked nonsense to the effect that the other EU states can adopt various provisions of Lisbon under the current Nice Treaty rules governing "enhanced cooperation". But for that to happen they would have to abandon Lisbon first.

The Nice Treaty's "enhanced cooperation" rules require that closer integration by some states in certain areas must follow specified guidelines and must be compatible with the overall Nice Treaty. These just cannot be applied to push through most of Lisbon. That is legal fantasy.

FALSEHOOD NO.3: That a Lisbon Two referendum would be different from Lisbon One

As a law-governed community, the EU currently operates under the rules of the Treaty of Nice, which require unanimity for all major treaty change. The Lisbon Treaty can come into force for all only if Ireland ratifies it, and that cannot be done unless the Irish people vote Yes in another referendum to exactly the same Treaty they rejected on 12 June, without a jot or tittle of it being altered.

For an Irish government to ask us to vote again on exactly the same Treaty on which a majority of the Irish people have already voted, and which a majority of those voting have rejected, would be an insult to any self-respecting nation.

Declarations or political statements that might be attached to Lisbon Two would be like a cap and bells for the gullible, without legal value. They would not alter the fact that Lisbon was unchanged. A commitment by the 27 prime ministers and presidents that all EU states would retain their national commissioner after 2014 can be made without opening the Lisbon Treaty, which allows for this to be done by unanimous agreement(Art.17.5 TEU).

The current Nice Treaty, which provides for the number of commissioners being fewer than the member states by some unspecified figure, provides also that "The number of Members of the Commission shall be set by the Council, acting unanimously" (Protocol on EU Enlargement, Article 4). So the Council of Ministers can decide that each EU state will continue with a permanent commissioner under either Nice or Lisbon. There is no need for a change in either of these Treaties to maintain the desirable principle of a permanent commissioner for all 27 EU members.

FALSEHOOD No.4: That Lisbon is a good treaty for Ireland and the EU.

By voting No on 12 June Ireland has saved itself and the EU from a thoroughly bad treaty. Most people still do not appreciate just how bad it is, for many aspects of Lisbon were either ignored or played down in our referendum debate - mostly by the Yes-side parties.

Remember that, as is made clear in the first sentence of the constitutional amendment which the Irish people rejected on 12 June, Lisbon would establish a constitutionally new European Union which would be profoundly different from the EU that we are currently members of, which was established by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.

This post-Lisbon EU would have the constitutional form of a supranational federation - in effect a state - in which Ireland and the other member states would have the constitutional status of regional or provincial states, like Massachussetts inside the USA or Bavaria inside federal Germany. Lisbon would thus make Ireland a province once again and end Ireland's formal status as a sovereign state in the international community of States.

But most Irish voters were not told this. It was the Referendum Commission's statutory duty to explain the constitutional amendment, as the Referendum Act establishing it makes clear, but Mr Justice O'Neill and his Commission failed completely to do the job the Act required them to do.

The new post-Lisbon EU would act as a state in the international community of states. It would sign treaties with other states in all areas of its powers, have its own diplomatic service, embassies and voice at the UN, and we would all be made real citizens of it for the first time, owing allegiance to its laws and loyalty to its authority, as against our being merely symbolical or notional EU "citizens" as at present.

All states must have citizens and one can only be a citizen of a state. If Lisbon were to be ratified, our rights and duties as EU citizens would be superior to our rights and duties as Irish citizens in any case of conflict between the two. Such conflicts would be decided by the EU Court of Justice, not the Irish constitution or the Irish Supreme Court.

Giving the EU Court of Justice the power to decide all our rights as EU citizens under the Charter of Fundamental Rights opens up horrendous possibilities, for no one knows what this "court with a mission", as one of its own judges once described it, might decide in the years and decades to come if it should acquire such power. The ECJ's "mission" is to expand the powers and competences of the EU to the utmost through its jurisprudence. As a court it is notorious for "competency creep". It is very unwise to give it power to decide all our rights as EU citizens, without any means of curbing it.

This post-Lisbon EU would make some two-thirds of our laws each year and would do so on a primarily population-size basis, which means that the governments of the big states would henceforth dominate EU policy-making. Lisbon is a power-grab by the big states for control of the post-Lisbon EU through its basing EU law-making on population size. This might be appropriate in a federal state governing one people, but it is totally unsuitable for sovereign states governing different peoples, even if they are cooperating with one another.

And there is much else in Lisbon that even most No-side campaigners do not know about.

Do you know that under Lisbon Ireland would lose its right to decide who its own commissioner is, in the ten years out of every 15 when we would have a commissioner? Or that the Lisbon Treaty would permit the death penalty under EU law in times of war or preparation for war, although its 27 member states have outlawed the death penalty in all circumstances?

These are accurate facts about the Treaty, although most Irish voters and media commentators have never heard of them! Anthony Coughlan is the secretary of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre. Further information about the work of the National Platform can be found at: www.nationalplatform.org The text of the consolidated EU Treaties as they would be if amended by the Lisbon Treaty can be obtained by downloading The Lisbon Treaty-The Readable Version by former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde or from www.euabc.com or from www.bonde.com

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2008-07-04 11:52:30.
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