The Lisbon Treaty: Ireland should not decide for everybody

, by Translated by Florent Banfi, Laurent Rergue

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The Lisbon Treaty: Ireland should not decide for everybody

A referendum on the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon will take place in Ireland on June 12. Ireland is the only Member State of the European Union to use this procedure. Again, only one state may decide for all the others!

The Irish people will be the only one within the European Union to vote on the Treaty of Lisbon by referendum.

The use of this procedure is imposed by the Irish Constitution. Twenty-six other Member States have all made the choice of parliamentary ratification.

The Irish referendum will decide for everyone

The result of the Irish referendum is very uncertain. Accordingly, only one country could impose its views on all the others, as it happened with France in 2005 after the referendum on the European Constitution. An Irish “no” will immediately put the Treaty of Lisbon down, which would be a “diktat” for the other Member States of the European Union, many of whom have already ratified the Treaty. Where is democracy in all that?

No “plan B” in case of an Irish no

The Irish referendum maintains the myth according to which the ’no’ from one people shall oblige the governments of all Member States to gather again around a table and negotiate a new treaty. This was possible once, and implied the transformation of the Constitution of Europea into the ’pale’ Treaty of Lisbon. It is however not possible to propose a new “plan B” in case of rejection of the Treaty. This was recently recalled by Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Secretary of State for European Affairs.

If the Treaty of Lisbon does not come into force, the European construction will come to a halt, and with it also the strengthening of a political, democratic and social Europe. The anti-Europeans will obtain what theyactually fear: a maere economic Europe, a large free market and by no means a world power.

If Irish vote no, several other more or less Euro-sceptic countries might decide to block their own ratification, very happy to seize this easy pretext. This could be the case in the UK, whose heart looks very clearly for a strictly economic Europe. The failure of the Treaty of Lisbon would thus defer for a long time the last hopes of some for relaunching the project of a political Europe.

National ratifications, enemies of the European democracy

The real point is not so much whether or not to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon by referendum, but rather to question the relevance of national ratification. While the text was negotiated and approved by all Member States, why shall we take the risk of nullifying all efforts with twenty-seven different ratifications?

On Friday 30th May, François Fillon stated that he wished the victory of the “yes” in Ireland, although stressing that he did not intend to “influence the decisions of a sovereign people.” This way of seeing things means to accept that one country can decide for everyone else, and that all the others should respect this choice, because it is sovereign. Nice lesson of democracy!

On the contrary, the European construction is a matter for the Europeans as a whole. To make it a real challenge for their citizens, States must waive their right of veto over the ratification of treaties. The only possible democratic ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon must be at the European level, through a truly European referendum held simultaneously across the European Union. We must put an end to national ratifications and Europeanise the debates on the construction of Europe.

More than ever, it is now time to end the tyranny of the minority!

Image: picture of the Lisbon Summit (December 2007), when the Treaty was signed by the European Heads of States and Governments; source: European Commission.

Your comments

  • On 11 June 2008 at 21:39, by muzzie Replying to: The Lisbon Treaty: Ireland should not decide for everybody

    Go on then - where is the democracy in no democracy. At least the Irish get a say in it - the rest of us don’t. France and Holland were given a chance last time round and rejected this piece of reheated beauracratic nonsense - the UK would have done the same given a chance. Now that this unintelligible treaty has been sicked up again, all the no sayers are being sidelined and the only country left with a voice is Ireland. Despite the financial inducements they have received over the years and their historic lack of backbone, I still hope that they can do the decent thing and give the gravy train a good kicking. If I thought my MEP wasn’t on the take and that he did actually represent his constituents then I would complain to him. And he is representing a country with a supposedly historic lack of corruption. If this is democracy, stick it, I would rather revolt.

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