- Why the Euro Crisis Isn’t Over; The economist who dared to predict Europe’s mess, and was fired for it, says there is much more pain to come – Wall Street Journal
- The rotten heart of Europe? – Irish Independent (2000)
- The Rotten Heart of Europe; Bernard Connolly – Faber and Faber, new edition
- A look inside “the rotten heart of Europe” with Bernard Connolly – CNBC
- The Rotten Heart of Europe: Bernard Connolly and Anatole Kaletsky discuss – BBC
Irish Referendum Practice from McKenna (1995) to McCrystal (2012): How Irish Governments behaved unconstitutionally in serving the EU agenda
By Anthony Coughlan
“We will fix that Stalinist body” … Comment by the late Brian Lenihan TD on the then Referendum Commission, Autumn 2001, in the lead-up to the second Nice Treaty referendum.
And How They Fixed It:
In December 2001 the Fianna Fail Government then in office put a Bill through the Oireachtas (Legislature) amending the 1998 Referendum Act so as to remove from the statutory Referendum Commission its function of setting out in a fair and neutral manner the relevant arguments for and against any proposed constitutional amendment. This was done on the last day before the Oireachtas rose for the Christmas holidays that year, when all stages of the relevant Bill were pushed through the Dail and Seanad in one day, with two days notice to the Opposition. Because of these circumstances this move went virtually unnoticed by the Irish media at the time.
1. Irish Citizens as Legislators: Tuilleadh
Where we are on the 40th anniversary of joining the EEC
The Political Basis of the EU:
All States and aspiring States have their myths of origin. The myth of origin of the EU is that it is a peace project to prevent wars between Germany and France – as if a tendency to go to war is somehow genetically inherited.
The actual facts are however that the first step towards supranational economic integration, the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951, was to facilitate German rearmament at the start of the Cold War with Russia and to reconcile France to that fact. The US wanted a rearmed West Germany inside NATO. This greatly alarmed France which had been occupied by Germany just a few years before.
Jean Monnet, who was America’s man in the affair, came up with the solution. To assuage France’s fears he drafted the Schuman Declaration proposing to put the coal and steel industries of France, Germany and Benelux under a supranational High Authority as “the first step in the federation of Europe”. A federation is a State, so the political aim of establishing a State or quasi-superstate under Franco-German hegemony has been there from the start. The EU celebrates 9 May, the date of this Declaration, as “Europe Day” each year. Monnet became secretary of the supranational High Authority, the predecessor of today’s Brussels Commission.
Thus historically the EU is in its origin an out-of-date legacy of the Cold War, pushed by the USA in the 1950s to provide an economic underpinning to NATO in Europe.
Simultaneously “Europeanism” became the creed of a legion of intellectuals across the continent, disillusioned by the failed ideologies of the 20th century. They provided ideological arguments in support of their assault on all things national. Their central assertion was that conflict between Europe’s States could be prevented by putting their national democracies under the control of a supranational high authority of non-elected technocrats – namely themselves or people like themselves – while trying to merge their peoples in a kind of jellybowl of nations.
They developed the doctrine that by “pooling” sovereignty small States increase their influence over bigger ones, whereas in practical reality it is the other way round. Classically, the concept of sovereignty means that a State is the sole author of the laws prevailing in its territory. For EU members however most laws now come from Brussels. Talk of pooling sovereignty is like referring to a woman as being half-pregnant. Sovereignty “pooled” is sovereignty surrendered.
Forty years after the 1951 Coal and Steel Community, and the 1957 Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community(EEC) which followed, another shift in Franco-German power, Germany’s reunification as a side-effect of the collapse of the USSR in 1991, led these two countries to establish the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and its single currency, the euro.
The big increase in Germany’s population and territory on reunification greatly alarmed France. However France had nuclear weapons, which Germany was precluded from having under the post-War treaties. The deal between the two of them was EU Monetary Union for Political Union or, put crudely, the Deutschemark for the Euro-bomb. Germany would give up its national currency, the symbol of its post-war economic achievement, and share the running of a new supranational EU currency with France, while France agreed to work jointly with Germany towards a supranational EU political union with its own common foreign, security and defence policy.
This would give Germany a central role in running a potential EU world power, with its finger on a nuclear trigger in due time. France in turn hoped the euro would give it a political lock on Germany. “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency and we have changed that,” exulted EU Commission President Romano Prodi. A Franco-German army brigade with joint officers and a joint command was simultaneously set up as a symbol and prototype of the EU army of the future. Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain have since joined this as contributors to a common “Eurocorps”.
France and Germany are said to share a common interest in being joint engines of the EU integration project. The conventional wisdom has been that if they stay together they can push through the Brussels institutions whatever policy suits their interests, while between them they are strong enough to prevent any other group of EU States from adopting policies they do not like. The reality is somewhat different however, as Germany was always going to be the big winner in moves towards an EU monetary and political union.
The Intoxication of Big Powerdom: Tuilleadh
- Lord Wolfson prize (Daily Telegraph): How to escape the euro with the minimum of pain
This summarises the entry to the Wolfson prize by Roger Bootle and a team from Capital Economics.
There is no doubt that euro exit would be messy and – if handled badly – extremely damaging, not only for the country concerned, but also for the rest of us. But it needn’t be handled badly. Indeed, there are ways of dealing effectively with all the key practical difficulties.
If handled well, euro exit could present weak peripheral members with a much better prospect than remaining in the euro. Moreover, their exit could enhance the prosperity of the rest of Europe – and the wider world.
Media statement / Wednesday 27 June 2012
“There is no example in history of a lasting monetary union that was not part of one State.” – Otmar Issing, former chief economist German Bundesbank, later governor of the ECB, c.1999
“That in what pertains to the control of credit the constant and predominant aim shall be the welfare of the people as a whole” – Irish Constitution, Article 45, Directive Principles of Social Policy
“A federalised banking union: Europe too has a ready model across the Atlantic … The logic of federalizing this [banking] function is as powerful in Europe as is has always been in the US. ” – Irish Times editorial, 7 June 2012
“The United States or Australia and New Zealand are immigrant societies and therefore they still accommodate more readily those from other backgrounds than we do ourselves, who still nurse a sense of our homogeneity and difference from others. And that’s precisely what the European Union, in my view, should be doing its best to undermine.” – Peter Sutherland, House of Lords Migration Committee, BBC News, 21 June 2012
* * *
We live under a system of finance capitalism in which the interests of peoples and of States are subordinated to those of bankers by the bulk of national politicians.
Politicians in the peripheral countries of the Eurozone shifted the bad debts of insolvent banks on to the shoulders of national taxpayers to prevent those banks going bust and to ensure that the German and French banks which were responsible for most of the improvident lending would get their money back.
They now want to shift control of banks and banking to the supranational level so that the big banks in the big EU countries can more easily gobble up the small banks in the smaller, while simultaneously taking another step on the road to the fiscal and political union the Eurofanatics have been dreaming of for decades.
An EU banking union would deprive national States of the ability to make banking and credit creation serve national developmental goals.
It would make it impossible for the State to insist that Irish banks should subscribe to its State debt.
Having given up the power to issue money by joining the Eurozone, advocates of a banking union in the EU would pass control of credit in Ireland to banks outside the country completely.
Will the rest of the Irish media follow the lead of the Irish Times in supporting this latest lurch towards economic and political catastrophe?
It is par for the course that the career federalists and ex-Trotskyites who form Irish Times editorial policy on Europe should show their anti-national animus by supporting every move to strip the Irish State of all classical State functions.
With the sole exception of the great Douglas Gageby every editor of that paper has shared the national self-contempt which makes them identify with foreign rulers more than with their own people. In the old days it was the British Empire. Today it is the aspiring Eurozone empire. They and those around them can thereby flatter themselves they are superior to the local “Paddies”.
But will the rest of the Irish media and the Irish political class follow the Irish Times further down the road to economic and political catastrophe?(Signed)
Director The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Tel : 01-8305792
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;
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.