News updates: Constitutional challenge to the ESM Treaty in Ireland / Proposals for EU political union

  • The Irish Times – Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Bailout treaty breaches Constitution, argues TD;
  • The Irish Times – Wednesday, June 20, 2012: German court rules Merkel did not inform MPs on ESM;
  • The Financial Times – June 19, 2012: EU foreign ministers discuss integration; Ten EU foreign ministers have spelt out radical suggestions to use the eurozone debt crisis as a springboard towards closer integration, including creation of a European monetary fund, a European army and a European finance minister;
  • The Financial Times – June 19, 2012: A bitter fallout from a hasty union, By Martin Wolf; I can envisage five outcomes: first, a happy marriage, on Germany’s terms, albeit after a painful period of adjustment; second, a miserable marriage, which endures because a break-up is too costly; third, a degree of mutual accommodation, in which the north becomes more southern and the south more northern; fourth, a partial break-up, with the remaining members moving into one of the three previous categories; and, finally, total break-up. What is certain is that Germany will not get the eurozone it wants easily or swiftly. If partial or total break-up is avoided, the period of difficulty will be long and painful. The crisis of the eurozone is likely to be a very long-running soap opera – if it does not end in tragedy;
  • The Irish Times – Friday, June 22, 2012: German court halts stability fund ratification;
  • The Irish Times – Friday, June 22, 2012: TD seeks injunction to prevent Government ratifying ESM treaty;

Deputy Thomas Pringle’s Constitutional Challenge in Ireland to the ESM Treaty

Friday 15  June 2012

“We need more Europe, not just a currency union but also a so-called fiscal union – in the area of budget policy. Above all else we need a political union. That means that step-by-step in the future we have to give up more powers to Europe and grant Europe more oversight responsibilities. . .   We cannot stand still because one or other [member state] does not want to.

-  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ARD TV, EUobserver, Open Europe, 7 June 2012
* * *

The most effective way for Ireland to get relief on its Stat and banking debts is for the Supreme Court to concede the validity of Deputy Thomas Pringle’s claim that a referendum is constitutionally necessary on the ESM Treaty which sets up a permanent bailout fund for the Eurozone and  on the Article 136 TFEU amendment to the EU Treaties which authorises that.

If the Government wishes to obtain real bargaining power vis-à-vis the Eurozone, Ministers should be secretly praying for the success of Deputy Pringle’s constitutional challenge, which  opens in the High Court on Tuesday 19 June… Even if it is impossible for Ministers to indicate any such desire publicly for fear of annoying  the German, French and other Eurozone Governments.

Ireland has a veto on the Article 136 TFEU amendment  to the EU Treaties under which the 27 EU Member States authorize the 17 Eurozone States to establish a “Stability Mechanism”  if that is needed to safeguard the stability of the euro area  as a whole.

The Government is afraid to use that veto however and is anxious that the media and general public are not aware of its timidity.

By his public-spirited and patriotic action Deputy Pringle and his legal team are inviting the Courts to order that this veto be used  and that a referendum be held on the ESM Treaty and the Article 136 authorisation  before Ireland can permit a permanent Eurozone bailout fund to be set up lawfully under the EU Treaties and  to be constitutionally permissible under Bunreacht na hEireann.

By his action  moreover Deputy Pringle and his legal team are seeking to defend the integrity of EU law and the EU Treaties in face of the manifest attempt by Germany, supported by France, to use the ESM Treaty to make the Eurozone captive to Franco-German State interests and to carve out a legal-political way  to what French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for last November: ”A Federation for the Eurozone and a Confederation for the rest of the EU”.

The Irish Government has been pushing three hugely important matters through the Dail and Seanad in June, with minimal attention by RTE, the news media  or print media, taken up as they are with the fortunes and misfortunes of  Deputy Mick Wallace and the Irish soccer team in Poland.

These three matters, which are being pushed through the the Oireachtas by means of guillotined debates with  virtually no local media coverage are:

(a) Ireland’s approval of the Article 136 TFEU amendment to the EU Treaties authorising the establishment of a Stability Mechanism for the Eurozone;

(b) Ireland’s ratification of the ESM Treaty setting up a permanent bailout fund for the Eurozone  as this Stability Mechanism, to which the State must contribute €1.3 billion down-payment in five tranches over the next 18 months and €9 billion in callable capital thereafter;  and (c)  The ESM Bill 2012  which bring the provisions of the ESM Treaty into domestic law so that taxpayers can be made finance Ireland’s future contributions to the ESM over the years and decades ahead.

For those interested,  the Tale of Two Treaties by Cork solicitors Joe Noonan and Mary Linehan [taleoftwotreaties.tumblr.com]  describes accurately and objectively the relation between the ESM Treaty,  the Fiscal Stability Treaty on which we voted in the recent referendum, and the Article 136 TFEU amendment to the EU Treaties which authorizes the ESM Treaty and on which Ireland has a constitutional veto because all changes to the EU Treaties  must be by unanimity.

Below is an outline of the principal constitutional  and legal reasons why ratification of  the ESM Treaty and the Article 136 TFEU amendment require a referendum in Ireland.

_____

WHY RATIFICATION  OF THE ESM TREATY AND THE ARTICLE 136 TFEU AMENDMENT WHICH AUTHORISES THAT TREATY UNDER EU LAW  REQUIRE A REFERENDUM IN IRELAND

1.)   Article 3 TFEU of the EU Treaties, which have been constitutionally agreed by all 27 EU Member States,  provides that monetary policy for the countries using the euro is a matter of “exclusive competence” of the EU as a whole.

It is not therefore open to the 17 Member States of the Eurozone to attempt effectively to diminish the competence of the Union by establishing among themselves a Stability Mechanism entailing a net €500-billion permanent bailout fund to lend to Eurozone governments as envisaged in the ESM Treaty.    This ESM fund, to which Ireland would have to make heavy contributions for the indefinite future, would trench significantly on monetary policy for the euro area.

The Stability Mechanism envisaged in the ESM Treaty is effectively an attempt to find a way round the “no bailouts” provision of Article 125 TFEU, whereby it is forbidden for the EU to take on the debt of Member States or for Member States to take on the debt of other Member States.   It also breaches other EU Treaty articles.

The ESM Treaty if ratified as it stands would effectively amount to an attempt to open a legal-political path to what France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy called for last November, namely,  “A Federation for the Eurozone and a Confederation for the rest of the EU”.

The banking union, fiscal union and political union which Chancellor Angela Merkel and others have recently called for to help save the Monetary Union are envisaged as being for the 17 Eurozone countries  rather than for the 27-Member EU as a whole.

If successfully brought about, they would be erected  on the basis of or in parallel with the ESM Treaty  and the Fiscal Stability Treaty.

A radical step of the kind envisaged in the ESM Treaty, which would henceforth run the Economic and Monetary Union on the basis of quite a different set of rules from those of the current EU Treaties, may only lawfully be taken by means of the “ordinary”  EU treaty amendment procedure of Art.48.2 TEU.

It cannot lawfully be done by means of a mere “Decision” of the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents under the “simplified” EU treaty amendment procedure of Art.48.6 TEU.  The latter procedure is meant to deal with minor technical amendments to the EU Treaties, but it is currently being used by the governments of the 17 Eurozone countries in an attempt to alter radically the character of the EMU by ratifying the ESM Treaty as it stands.

2.)  How can it be lawful for the ESM Treaty to permit a permanent bailout fund to be established for the 17 Eurozone countries when the express terms of the Article 136 TFEU amendment, agreed by all 27 EU Governments, authorises a Stability Mechanism only if that is established unanimously by the Eurozone States, as the general provisions of EU law require, viz: “THE Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area AS A WHOLE ” (emphasis added).

The Art.136 amendment to the EU Treaties does not say that “Member States”, meaning SOME of them, may establish a Stability Mechanism, but rather “THE Member States”, namely ALL  of them (In French “Les” Membres rather than “Des” Membres).

Yet the ESM Treaty which has been concluded among the 17 provides that the Stability Mechanism which  it seeks to establish may come into being once States contributing 90% of the capital of the proposed fund have ratified the treaty. The eight largest Eurozone States, a minority of the 17, can therefore establish this Stability Mechanism, while other Eurozone States which may badly need assistance from it are excluded.

How then can this be a Stability Mechanism “for the euro area AS A WHOLE”, as Article 136 TFEU, which still has to be constitutionally approved by all 27 EU Member States, requires?

Likewise the Fiscal Stability Treaty – the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU – on which Irish voters voted on 31 May  and which cross-refers to the ESM Treaty, provides that it can come into force when it is ratified by 12 Eurozone Members.  Does not this treaty also require unanimous ratification by all 17 Eurozone Members before it can lawfully bind them under EU law?

The “enhanced cooperation” provisions of the EU Treaties (Art.20 TEU and Arts. 326-334 TFEU) provide a means whereby a sub-group of EU States which wish to cooperate more closely among themselves in areas of non-exclusive Union competence may do this under specific rules that are laid down in these Articles. The provisions of the ESM Treaty do not accord with these rules, but purport to authorize the Eurozone States to act outside the ambit of the treaties in relation to matters that are within the exclusive competence of the Union.

3.)   How can the ESM Treaty be lawfully ratified by July 2012, as is the stated intention of the 17 Eurozone governments involved, when the Decision of the European Council to amend Article 136 TFEU of the EU Treaties  to authorise a Stability Mechanism states that it  does not have legal effect, once it has been constitutionally approved by all 27 EU Member States, until 1 January 2013?

Does not this mean that any treaty purporting to establish an ESM before 2013 is legally void?  ESM Treaty No.1 which was signed by Eurozone Finance Ministers in July 2011 but was never sent round for ratification, conformed to the 2013 time-frame set by the Art.136 TFEU authorisation, whereas ESM Treaty No. 2 which was signed by EU Ambassadors on 2 February 2012 does not.

This is further evidence of how the exigencies of a political response to the financial crisis by some Eurozone States puts them in breach of the EU Treaties law and therefore of the Irish Constitution.

4.)    EU Member States may only sign international treaties which are compatible with EU law. The EU Court of Justice has made clear that intergovernmental agreements cannot affect the allocation of responsibilities defined in the EU Treaties. The provisions of the ESM Treaty and the Fiscal Stability Treaty which involve the EU Commission and Court of Justice in the detailed implementation of the proposed ESM go well beyond what is permissible under the current EU treaties and are therefore unlawful.

Last Post of Referendum: If you haven’t yet voted, please read this…

  • John Corcoran (ICTA) writes in an email: At 8.25 am yesterday morning Paul Krugman and John Corcoran spoke simultaneously on BBC radio and advised the Irish people to vote No in the Fiscal Treaty Referendum.  John spoke on BBC radio ulster and Paul on BBC radio 4.  Both are distinguished former students of the London School of Economics.   Please join with John and Paul and ensure a No vote today.  If you click on the podcast link… you can hear the interview.
    John Corcoran, M.Sc. Economics London School of Economics and Political Science.
    Spokesperson, Irish Commercial Tenants Association;
  • David McWilliams / Irish Independent – The fiscal treaty will only make things worse: The situation in the eurozone is not getting any better. The fiscal treaty, by imposing austerity on an already enfeebled economy, will make things worse, prompting more capital flight. Rolling the snowball down the hill is not an honest option.
    Mightn’t it be better to open the negotiations properly now?
  • Forpras Financial SolutionsWhy vote NO to the Fiscal Stability Treaty? Why are our Irish politicians telling us to vote YES? Are you aware that the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) isn’t even setup and yet Portugal, Spain and Greece need immediate bailing out? Where will all this funding come from? Well, more and more taxes will be needed to pay for all these bailouts and ofcourse the vicious circle of Ireland having to borrow to help bailout itself out and our partners. Every cent borrowed needs to be repaid with excessive interest rates. The government tells us not to worry as they have agreed with their collegues in the EU that we will be permitted to pay these loans over an extended timeframe. But nobody is agreeing to help reduce our debts or even write a portion off? Why? [...] It looks like Ireland and the Irish public will be left with mountains of debt. More and more Irish will be required to pay higher taxes (VAT 23%, property tax, water charges, higher car taxes, higher fuel taxes and the list goes on) resulting in the standard of living in Ireland falling, rising debt and a massive increase in the number of Irish unable to pay off their debts whether they be mortgages, credit cards, etc.
  • Vincent Browne / Politico.ie – We owe it to ourselves to oppose a trajectory that will vandalise society: I will vote No to express indignation with the cavalier disregard of the procedures and protocols of the European Union itself of the sovereignty of its member states, in the conduct of the leaders of the EU institutions and of Germany and France, in their insolence in interfering with the internal affairs of Greece and Italy, in their disregard for “democratic” procedures of the Union – even in the way this Fiscal Treaty came about.
    I will vote No to defy the wishes of the German elite, which benefited so spectacularly from the emergence of the Eurozone and now makes modest redistribution of that generated wealth, conditional on adherence to its economic and budgetary diktats, diktats that disadvantage not only the mass of people throughout the rest of Europe but the mass of people in Germany itself. 
    I will vote No to give backbone to the government’s dealings with the EU on the promissory notes and the other bank debt. 
  • TEEU – the power unionTEEU Executive Committee Urges Members to Vote No to Austerity: The inevitable result would be a further contraction in the size of the economy – already decreased by over a quarter since 2008 – with an accompanying increase in unemployment and decrease in government revenue. As Nobel laureate Paul Krugman simply put it, austerity “pushes depressed economies deeper into depression”. We, and others, have pointed out that a fiscal stimulus is what is required and have suggested, to no avail, a means of applying it.

UPDATE: Reply to Dr Gavin Barrett’s article on the Fiscal Treaty referendum in Friday 4/May Irish Times

“A Federation for the Eurozone and a Confederation for the rest of the EU”

(Note: The following replaces & corrects earlier version of 7/May)

TWO TREATIES FOR THE EUROZONE AND AN AMENDMENT TO  ONE OF THE EU TREATIES  – ALL RELATED TO EACH  OTHER!

Reply to Dr Gavin Barrett, Senior Lecturer in European Law, UCD, who wrote an article urging a Yes vote in the Fiscal Treaty referendum in the Irish Times on Friday 4 May, by Anthony Coughlan, Director, The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9; Tel.: 01-8305792

Wednesday 9 May 2012

INTRODUCTION:

AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 136,  TREATY ON THE FUNCTIONING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (TFEU)  -

“The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.”

- Proposed amendment to Article 136 TFEU of the EU Treaties by which the 27 EU Member States  authorize the 17 Member States of the Eurozone to establish a  Stability Mechanism

The above Art.136 TFEU amendment to the EU Treaties has still to be approved by Ireland in accordance with its constitutional requirements under the “simplified” EU treaty amendment procedure of Article 48.6 TEU.

The European Council “Decision” to insert this amendment into the EU Treaties comes into force on 1 January 2013 if  by that time it has been approved by all 27 EU Member States in accordance with their constitutional requirements.

The ESM Institution which the 17 Eurozone States seek to establish and which Ireland would become a Member of is to be set up by the ESM Treaty for the 17 on the basis of this  Art.136 TFEU authorization  by the 27.  The ESM Treaty states that it is “complementary” to the Fiscal Treaty on which we have a referendum vote on 31 May.

The Government has promised the other 16 Eurozone Governments that it will have the ESM Treaty ratified by July,  but without the necessary constitutional referendum being held on it and on the Art. 136 TFEU amendment which authorizes it.

Q.  BUT WHERE WILL WE GET THE MONEY?

A.   We will get the money by holding a referendum on the Article 136 TFEU amendment and the ESM Treaty that it authorizes. This is constitutionally required in Ireland in order to validate these proposals as they stand, but our supine Government wants to avoid such  a referendum at all costs.  The 16 other Eurozone States will have to persuade us to vote Yes in such a referendum if they are to establish the kind of Stability Mechanism which the ESM Treaty envisages.  They can do this by agreeing to forgive the private bank debt the ECB has insisted should be imposed on Irish taxpayers, plus the Anglo-Irish promissory notes etc.   An Irish referendum on Article 136 TFEU and the ESM Treaty would also be an opportunity to add the voice of the Irish people to the calls across  Europe for the Eurozone authorities to agree a growth strategy instead of the present failed austerity policies.

Q.  WHERE WILL WE GET THE MONEY IF WE VOTE NO TO THE FISCAL TREATY?

A.   Where will the Government get the money to pay the €11 billion the ESM Treaty will require from us –  €1.3 billion up front and €250 million of that this July! –  with an open-ended treaty commitment to pay further sums thereafter without limit?

Continue reading

Open Letter to UCD Economist Colm McCarthy

From: Anthony Coughlan, Trinity College

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792

TO:
Professor Colm McCarthy
Department of Economics
UCD
Dublin 4

Sunday 29 April 2012

Dear Colm,

I am writing to you to make some points arising from your comments on the so-called Fiscal Treaty and the referendum on it on RTE’s Morning Ireland last Tuesday morning.

You made a small error, if I may say so, when you said on the radio on Tuesday that the Fiscal Treaty can come into force when 12 of its 25 signatory States have ratified it. In fact it requires ratification by 12 of the 17 Eurozone States for it to come into force. Ratification by the eight signatory non-Eurozone States does not count for that purpose (See Art. 14 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU).

Minister Leo Varadkar, who should have known better, made the same mistake on Vincent Browne ‘s TV3 programme last Wednesday, and Prime Time made it similarly last Thursday.

I do not know if you are aware that this issue of the Fiscal Treaty and, more importantly, the ESM Treaty being able to be ratified without unanimity amongst all 17 Eurozone countries is arguably in breach of EU law and the existing EU Treaties. This issue of a unanimity requirement for these two Eurozone Treaties is at the heart of current constitutional challenges to the ESM Treaty in Germany, Estonia and – as announced in the Dail last week – here in Ireland.

This ESM Treaty requires us to stump up €11 billion in different forms of callable capital to the proposed ESM loan fund, €1.6 billion up front “irrevocably and unconditionally” – a figure that may be raised thereafter without limi(Art. 8 ESM Treaty) . And there is much more in the ESM Treaty that should make people worried. I wonder have you thought through the implications of this?

Both the Fiscal Treaty and the ESM Treaty are not EU treaties, as you know, but formally speaking are ”intergovernmental” treaties for the 17 Eurozone countries. They can only come into being however – because they affect monetary policy in the Monetary Union, that being an “exclusive competence” of the EU – on the basis of an authorization or license which requires an amendment to the EU Treaties. All 27 EU States, including Ireland, must agree to that authorizing amendment, and that authorisation has not yet been constitutionally approved here.

This authorization is given in a two-sentence amendment to Article 136 of one of the two primary EU Treaties, the Treaty on the Functioning, of the European Union, which reads: “The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under this mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.

You will note that the authorization says “THE Member States , not “Member States” or “SOME” Member States , but rather all of them. Yet the Fiscal Treaty as it stands provides that it can come into force when 12 Eurozone States have ratified it, and the ESM Treaty provides that it comes into force and the Stability Mechanism which it proposes may be established once States contributing 90% of the capital to the ESM fund have ratified that.

A simple calculation based on the contributions set out in the Annex to the ESM Treaty shows that the eight largest Eurozone countries would contribute 90% of this capital so that, as the ESM Treaty stands, a minority of the 17 Eurozone States could bring the ESM into being. How then can the Stability Mechanism which it purports to establish be “for the euro area as a whole”, as required by the Art.136 amendment which authorises it?

More fundamentally, how can the ESM Treaty for the 17 Eurozone States be enabled to put the EMU which Ireland acceded to under Maastricht and Lisbon on an entirely new economic and legal basis when monetary policy for the euro area is an “exclusive EU competence” – and not a matter just for the Eurozone countries . . . and when the rules for EMU, including the Art.125 ban on Government bailouts and the 3% and 60% of GDP excessive deficit rules plus their enforcement mechanisms, are clearly set out in the existing EU Treaties and override all other laws and treaties for Member States of the Union?

If those original rules of the EMU had been enforced, the Eurozone countries would not now be in the mess they are in. Ireland complied with the excessive deficit rules of the EMU in the early 2000s, but when Germany and France broke them in 2003 and 2004 they were set aside, as you know, and the enforcement provisions in the Treaties – including heavy fines – were not applied. If they had been there would have been no need of bailouts and the Article 125 ban on bailouts would make perfect sense, for it would never have come into contention.

Now Germany, France and others want to get round the existing EU Treaty rules, and especially the Article 125 ban on bailouts, by means of the ESM Treaty for the Eurozone. The “Stability Mechanism” which this treaty envisages – and one can imagine all sorts of other Stability Mechanisms that would conform to EU law – is essentially a Bank or fund which would lend directly to Eurozone Governments that might be in trouble as the European Central Bank is forbidden from doing this by Article 125 TFEU.

But the EU is supposed to be a creature of law, and the Irish Constitution is obliged to uphold EU law. If the Eurozone States, having got themselves into their current mess, want to set up a structure for the EMU based on quite different rules which would effectively permit direct bailouts for Governments and the setting aside of the “no-bailout” article in the Treaties, they have to amend the EU Treaties with the agreement of all 27 Member States, and not just by means of a special treaty amendment for the 17 which flouts the express terms of the Article 136 TFEU authorization on which the ESM Treaty depends. To attempt to do that latter would effectively be to run a legal coach-and-horses through EU law and the existing EU Treaties in the Franco-German political interest.

You spoke on the radio yesterday and unfortunately gave the impression to those listening as if the ESM were a pot of gold which we would be excluded from getting access to if we were so foolish as to vote No to the Fiscal Treaty. Your comments were repeated on the evening TV news and I have no doubt they will be quoted repeatedly by Yes-side propagandists during the Fiscal Treaty referendum campaign if the Government does not have the good sense to put this referendum off until we can hold it alongside a referendum on the ESM Treaty and the Art.136 amendment to the EU Treaties which authorizes the ESM Treaty.

Such a referendum will almost certainly have to be held anyway, whether as a result of the Attorney-General’s advice in due course or as a result of the constitutional challenge to the ESM Treaty which Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle is taking in order to defend the Irish Constitution and EU law which it upholds and which should come up in the High Court during May when the Government has responded to his Statement of Claim, which I understand has been sent to the Solicitor-General.

I ask you would it not be foolish of Irish voters to change their Constitution so as to impose a maximum public deficit rule of 0.5% and a permanent balanced budget rule on Irish Governments for the indefinite future in order to obtain access to a proposed Eurozone loan fund, when this fund does not yet exist, when the ESM Treaty which would establish it has not yet been ratified and may well never be ratified, and when the ratification of that treaty will almost certainly require a separate referendum to be held on it in Ireland anyway?

That is why I would like to suggest to you that if one takes account of the Fiscal Treaty’s “complementary” treaty, the ESM Treaty – which, incidentally, the Government has promised the other Eurozone States it will have ratified by July! – the most rational course for people to take in relation to the Fiscal Treaty is really to vote No to it and to call for a referendum on the ESM Treaty and its Art.136 authorising amendment to be taken together with a possible second referendum on the Fiscal Treaty, when the full implications of the whole interconnected caboodle have been properly considered by the Irish public and media.

In my opinion, if the Government looked at the matter rationally it would welcome such a development as being in the country’s best interests. For if people vote No to the Fiscal Treaty referendum on 31 May that referendum can easily be run again – as long as it is done alongside a referendum on the ESM Treaty and the Art. 136 amendment to the primary EU Treaties authorizing that – for Ireland has a veto on the latter.

My reason for suggesting this is that if a referendum were required in this State on the ESM Treaty and its authorizing Art.136 amendment, the Eurozone could not establish the permanent ESM loan fund which they want to set up unless they have Ireland’s agreement. We need to use that veto, not ignore it.

This is how Ireland could get access to real money, real relief on our public debts and a fundamental transformation in the State’s financial position. The alternative is to look for relief to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s wholly mythical pot of ESM gold, which does not yet exist and may well never do so in its present mooted form because of the illegality under EU law of its mode of establishment and its unconstitutionality under the Irish Constitution. A No vote on 31 May opens for us a way to real money; a Yes vote makes us look like fools.

The course of action outlined here would put Ireland in a powerful bargaining position – as nothing else can do – to get massive write-downs on our State debt, a cancellation of those draconic promissory notes and all the rest. It could even put us in a position to give a lead across Europe in urging an expansive, growth-oriented policy on the Eurozone instead of the current austerity that is clearly not working.

This would of course require the Government to show some gumption vis-a-vis the Eurozone authorities instead of bowing to them spinelessly out of misplaced and outdated Europhilia. If Ministers fear offending Germany and France by deciding independently to hold a referendum on the ESM Treaty and Art.136 TFEU, they should be praying instead that Thomas Pringle TD’s constitutional challenge will succeed.

Forgive me for going on at such length. But if there is a real possibility of such a position being attained by holding these referendums on the ESM Treaty, would it not be utter folly for us not to take it? Germany, France and the rest would have no alternative but to oblige us if they wanted Irish voters to say Yes in such an ESM Treaty referendum, for their €700 billion loan fund would depend on it.

That is why in my opinion genuine Eurofederalists who oppose the Franco-German takeover-bid for the EMU which is currently occurring through these two Eurozone Treaties, as well as longstanding Eurocritics like myself and my colleagues who are opposed to further surrender of what is left of Irish sovereignty, have an objective interest in uniting to defend the integrity of the EU Treaties as they stand against this Franco-German scheme to make the Eurozone their captive.

For what Germany and France are planning in their takeover-bid for the Eurozone and their proposals to change radically the EMU which Irish voters voted for under Maastricht and Lisbon, would radically alter the EU for the worse and push it in a profoundly undemocratic and anti-social direction.

Europhiles as well as Eurocritics could thus validly be urged to vote No to the Fiscal Treaty in order to hold the EU together!

Maybe you would consider these points and whether you think they have any merit. If you cared to meet to have a chat about these treaties and related matters for lunch or over a drink any day, I should be glad to meet you at any time or place that suited you.

With best regards
Yours sincerely

Anthony Coughlan
Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin

PS. Because of the public interest character of this matter, I hope you do not mind too much if I circulate copies of this as an “Open Letter” to the media for their information.

First published online @ http://www.indymedia.ie/article/101780
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