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?

Tuilleadh

Irish Times: Dominating Role of Larger EU States

The Irish Times – Friday, March 4, 2011 (letters)

Madam, – Dr Garret FitzGerald (Opinion, February 12th) shows concern that moving away from the so-called “community method” of making EU laws towards a more “inter-governmental” approach may open the way to an EU that “for the first time becomes dominated by some larger states”.

This looks like trying to lock the proverbial stable door after the horse inside has bolted.

For decades Dr FitzGerald and those who share his views on the EU have been advancing the quite unrealistic notion that the EU is a radically new form of political life and governance in which the big European states are willing to subordinate their national interests to a larger common EU interest and that it therefore makes sense for smaller states to “pool sovereignty” with them.

In historical reality the EU since its inception has been an arena for the pursuit of the national interests of its member states, above all its bigger ones, France and Germany especially. The big states use the EU to try to dominate the smaller ones if it suits them. If not, they will go outside it or beyond it. Three developments in the past 20 years show this strikingly.

The first was the establishment of the euro currency under the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. The core objective of that was to reconcile France to Germany’s sudden reunification in 1990, using economic means that were quite inappropriate for that purpose.

The current financial crisis shows the euro currency’s structural flaws. It has fundamentally divided the EU between the 17 EU states inside the euro zone that are now suffering the euro’s torments, and the 10 EU states outside it that are not.

The second was the 2001 Nice Treaty which allows an inner group of nine or more EU states to integrate further among themselves and to use the EU institutions to do that, even though the other EU members are opposed. This was a fundamental break with the notion of the EU as a partnership of equals in which no major step would be taken without unanimity. It enables the big states to present the others with unpleasant faits-accomplis. For example it would enable the 17 euro zone members, or a sub-set of them, to adopt a common tax base for assessing corporation profits tax, or a common tax rate if they wish, as could well happen in the coming period.

The third was the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. In power-political terms this treaty’s most important provision is that it puts EU law-making on a primarily population-size basis for the first time – from 2014. This means that in three years’ time Germany’s voting weight in making EU laws on the EU Council of Ministers will be doubled from its present 8 per cent to 17 per cent, France’s, Italy’s and Britain’s vote will go from their present 8 per cent each to 12 per cent each, while Ireland’s will fall from its present 2 per cent to 0.8 per cent. Is not this by any standard a power-grab by the big states?

For decades Irish policy-makers have used rhetoric about “the European ideal”, “our EU partners” and “an EU community of equals” to justify handing over ever-greater tranches of State power and law-making to the EU. A more hard-headed and less self-deluding approach will surely be needed by future Irish governments if we are to get out of our present mess. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY COUGHLAN,
Director,
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre,
Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9.
 

The Irish Government lines up with Brussels against the Irish people

* Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister Michael Martin give in to Franco-German and EU Commission pressure to permit the remaining Lisbon ratifications to continue, when they could have stopped these by saying that Ireland cannot and will not ratify the Lisbon Treaty, as the Irish people have rejected it.

* The Irish Government lines up with Brussels against the Irish people rather than stands by the people’s democratic decision of last week to defend it vis-a-vis Brussels – so as to bring about a 26/1 situation by year’s end with which to bludgeon Irish voters in a referendum re-run.

* Talk of “respecting” Ireland’s vote turns out in practice to be a cover for setting out to overturn it in a referendum re-run, with Brian Cowen’s, Michael Martin’s and Dick Roche’s full support – and behind a thick barrier of hypocrisy, spoofing and lies.

Friday 20 June 2008

* These are the three principal lies Irish Government Ministers and the EU people are telling to hide their first steps towards preparing this Lisbon referendum re-run:

* LIE NO.1: That the nine EU States that have not yet ratified Lishon have a “right” to do so irrespective of the Irish No. There is no such right under either EU law or customary international law. Brian Cowen could stop any further ratifications by saying to his EU partners that he respects the Irish No, that because of that there is no question of trying to overturn it by re-running the referendum, and that therefore Lisbon is dead because Ireland cannot ratify it and there is no point any other ratifications continuing, for Lisbon cannot come into force unless all 27 ratify it. British Foreign Secretary David Milliband underlined this point last weekend when he said that it depended on Brian Cowen whether Lisbon was alive or dead.

* LIE No. 2: Minister Dick Roche was up to this usual spoofery on “Morning Ireland” today when he attacked Patricia McKenna for saying that the French and Dutch Governments stopped further ratifications of the EU Constitution in 2005 after their peoples voted No in their referendums. Minister Roche said that Luxembourg held a referendum on this Treaty after the French and Dutch No and in his usual gentlemanly fashion accused Ms McKenna of “telling lies”. In fact, as the Minister is well aware, the Luxembourg referendum was held shortly after the French and Dutch referendums but BEFORE the French and Dutch Governments decided they would not re-run them, and therefore that they could not ratify the Constitutional Treaty – which led the remaining EU States, including Ireland, to abandon further ratifications at that time.

Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche are spoofing like this, with their EU confreres helping them, to try to cover up the fact that the Irish Government is urging the nine remaining EU States to continue with their ratifications so as to bring about a 26/1 situation which can then be used to pressurise the Irish people to turn their No into a Yes in a second Lisbon referendum.

It is Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche who are failing to “respect” the Irish people’s No vote by effectively telling the other EU States not to respect it either, but to continue with their ratifications. Why should the other EU States respect last Thursday’s referendum result when the Irish Government does not respect it, but sets out rather to subvert it, as they decided to do even while the voting tallies were being counted on Friday morning last?

Remember Foreign Minister Martin saying at luncthtime on the day of the count that “of course” the remaining ratifications would continue. Remember Commission President Barroso’s at his press conference held before the count was even finished, following a phone chat with Taoiseach Cowen, saying the same thing.

If Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche had a scintilla of the political courage and statesmanship of the founder of their Party, they would be telling their EU counterparts that they had no alternative but to open up Lisbon and work out a better Treaty for Ireland, for Europe and for a more democratic EU, instead of the supranational EU Federation, with laws made on a population basis, which is what is on offer in Lisbon.

* LIE NO.3: That the other EU States can go ahead with the Lisbon Treaty provisions under the rules for “enhanced cooperation”. The barrack-room lawyers of the Irish media are speaking here. It is the enhanced cooperation rules of the EU Treaties as amended by the Nice Treaty that currently apply. It is nonsense to suggest that the enhanced cooperation provisions of one Treaty, viz. Nice, can be used to bring into force the far wider provisions of another Treaty, viz. Lisbon.

* NB: The number of EU Commissioners must be decided unanimously.
Under the current Nice Treaty(Protocol on the enlargement of the EU, Article 4), a reduction in the number of Commissioners to fewer than the number of Member States must be decided unanimously in 2009. Under the Lisbon Treaty(Article 17.5 TEU) the number of Commissioners must be reduced by two-thirds from 2014, “unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this number.”

At their next summit meeting in October or December the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents will make a “European decision” that when it comes to allocating EU Commissioners in 2014 in the post-Lisbon EU, Ireland and all Member States will be permitted to retain a permanent Commissioner, although in practice there may be senior and junior Commissioners. Because both the Nice and Lisbon Treaties lay down that arrangements for the Commission require unanimity, a commitment on these lines can be given without opening Lisbon.

Taoiseach Cowen will present this as a triumph for Irish diplomacy, while his EU colleagues will smile cynically to themselves. Then various Declarations will be given – to meet Irish concerns on company taxation, human rights, neutrality etc. – which will be tagged on to the Lisbon Treaty, but wll not alter a jot or tittle of its contents.

What threats or implicit threats will be needed to go with these promises? The most obvious one is that Irish voters will be told, as they were not told over the past months – that the Lisbon Treaty aims to establish a constitutionally new Federal Union and that the Irish must decide whether they want to be members of this or not, or do they want to keep the present EU as it stands under the Nice Treaty rules.

The other Member States still cannot ratify Lisbon and establish this new Union without Ireland’s agreement. But the hope will be that this mix of promises and implicit threats will suffice to overturn the Irish people’s No in Lisbon One and turn it into a Yes in Lisbon Two.

A peaceable democratic popular revolt in Ireland and across the EU is needed to prevent this happening and to prevent the anti-democratic Lisbon Treaty-cum EU-Constitution being clamped on most of the peoples of our continent.

- Anthony Coughlan

(Secretary)

Irish Times article: Lisbon would turn Ireland into a province

Irish Times  article, Friday 16 May
VOTE NO TO LISBON AND REJECT EUROPEAN FEDERAL STATE
Lisbon would  turn Ireland into a province or region of an EU superstate and make us citizens of it first rather than of the Irish Republic
by Anthony Coughlan
 
The push to turn the European Union into a superpower with many of the features of a Federal State goes back to World War 2, when the continental imperial powers, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium, experienced the trauma of defeat and occupation.  After 1945 they found themselves much diminished in a world dominated by the USA and USSR.
One response of their political elites was to decide that if they could no longer be Big Powers individually on their own, they would seek to be a Big Power collectively. This is not the full story of European integration, but it is perhaps the most important part of the story.
The Lisbon Treaty is the constitutional culmination of the federalist project which has been the political dynamic of European integration ever since the Schumann Declaration of 1950 proclaimed the European Coal and Steel Community to be “the first step in the federation of Europe”.
The EU commemorates that Declaration on  9 May each year – Europe Day.  Fifty years later, in 2004, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt proclaimed the EU Constitution to be “the capstone of a European Federal State”.
When the French and Dutch rejected the EU Constitution in their 2005 referendums, the Prime Ministers and Presidents decided to give the EU the constitutional form of a Federation indirectly rather than directly.
This the Lisbon Treaty does by amending the two existing European Treaties instead of replacing them entirely  by a formally titled Constitution. But the legal-political effect is the same.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WE WILL VOTE ON 
The first sentence of the Amendment which the Government is asking  to insert into the Irish  Constitution provides that the State may ratify the Treaty of Lisbon and ”may be a member of the European Union established by virtue of that  [Lisbon] Treaty.
This sentence shows that the European Union which would be established by the Lisbon Treaty, although having the same name, is constitutionally and politically a different Union from that which we are currently members of, which was established by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty.The second sentence of the Constitutional Amendment would then give the constitution of this post-Lisbon Union supremacy over the Irish Constitution:-


“No provision of this  [Irish] Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by membership of the European Union referred to Š or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said European Union or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State.”
This post-Lisbon EU would have the constitutional form of a supranational European Federation – in effect a State – in which Ireland and the other Member States would have the constitutional status of provincial or regional states.
From the inside the Union would look like something based on Treaties between States. From the outside it would look  like a State itself.  This constitutional revolution in both the Union ands its Member States would be brought about by four legal steps which are set out in the Treaty, as they were in the previous EU Constitution:
Firstly, Lisbon would give the post-Lisbon Union full legal personality separate from and superior to its Member States, so that it could act as a State in the international community of States, sign Treaties with other States in all areas of its powers, have its own political President, Foreign Minister(High Representative), diplomatic service, embassies and Public Prosecutor, and make most of our laws.Secondly, Lisbon would abolish the European Community which we joined in 1973 and which still exists as part of the present EU, and replace it by the new Union (Art.1 TEU).

Thirdly, it would give the new Union a unified constitutional stucture so that all areas of government would come within its aegis either actually or potentially(Art.4 TEU, Arts.1-6 TFEU).  The only major feature of a fully developed Federation which the EU would then lack would be the power to force its Member States to go to war against their will.
SUBORDINATING THE IRISH CONSTITUTION TO THE EU CONSTITUTION 
Finally, Lisbon would make us all real citizens for the first time of this post-Lisbon Union, rather than our being notional or honorary EU “citizens” as at present(Art.9 TEU).
One can only be a citizen of a State and all States must have citizens. As real EU citizens we would owe it the duty of obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our obedience and loyalty to Ireland and the Irish Constitution and laws.
We would still retain our national Irish citizenship, but our new dual citizenship post-Lisbon would not be citizenship of two different States, but rather of the federal and regional/provincial levels of one state, as is normal in such classical Federations as the USA, Federal Germany, Switzerland and Canada.
The Irish Constitution would remain – just as the various states of the Federal USA still retain their constitutions –  but it would be subordinate to the EU Constitution in any case of conflict between the two.
One indicator of the constitutional change which Lisbon would bring about is that Members of the European Parliament, who under the present Treaties are “representatives of the peoples  of the Member States brought together in the Community”, would become “representatives ofthe Union’s citizens in the post-Lisbon EU(Art.14.2 TEU).
Another is that the European Council, the summit meetings of Prime Ministers and Presidents, would become an EU institution for the first time, legally bound to forward the interests of the Union, not of the national Governments or electorates concerned, so that its acts or its failing to act would be subject to judicial review by the EU Court of Justice(Art.13 TEU).
Couple these constitutional changes with the power-political changes which Lisbon would bring about and it is clear that the Lisbon referendum confronts the Irish people with a momentous choice.
The most important power-political change is that Lisbon would base law-making in the post-Lisbon Union primarily on population size.
 This would double Germany’s relative voting strength on the Council of Ministers from its present 8% to 17%. It would increase the voting weight of France, Britain and Italy from their present 8% to 12% each and it would halve Ireland’s weight from 2% to 0.8%.(Art.16.4 TEU)
As well as our being deprived of a voice on the EU Commission, the body which proposes all EU laws, for five years out of every 15, a little noticed feature of Lisbon’s provisions is that when it comes to our turn to have an Irish Commissioner, we would  lose the right to decide who he or she would be. Henceforth Ireland would be able to make “suggestions” only, for the new Commission President to decide(Art.17.7 TEU).
It is surely a major historical moment by any standard: this attempt to turn four million Irish people and nearly 500 million Europeans into real citizens of a real EU Federation, without most of them being aware of it, and without any but us Irish being allowed to have a direct say on it.
If Lisbon is ratified it is bound to lead to major democratic reactions across Europe when people discover that their national independence and democracy have been filched from them. That is why the best course for the Irish people is to vote No to Lisbon on 12 June, as the French and Dutch did to its virtually identical predecessor, for their own sakes and for Europe’s.
_______
Anthony Coughlan is secretary of the National Platform EU  Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin  9;  Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792;   Web-site: nationalplatform.org

[27/05/2005] False statements about EU Constitution

EU CONSTITUTION: TWO SERIOUS FALSE STATEMENTS IN TODAY'S IRISH TIMES

- Statement by Anthony Coughlan
__________________________________________________________

THE NATIONAL PLATFORM EU RESEARCH AND INFORMATION CENTRE
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9

Tel.: +00-353-1-8305792

Friday 27 May 2005

Two significant false statements  on the EU Constitution in today's Irish
Times  - by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and that paper's European Correspondent,
Denis Staunton:

In his  article supporting the proposed EU Constitution in today's Irish
Times (P.16)Taoiseach Bertie Ahern makes one  quite inaccurate statement.
He says that the EU Constitution "includes significant new powers for
national parliaments."

It includes nothing of the kind.  The EU Constitution would remove over 60
further national vetoes on top of those already  removed by previous EC/EU
treaties. Half of these would be in new policy areas where the EU, not
National Parliaments,  would henceforth make the laws. The other half would
substitute qualified majority voting for unanimity in making EU laws in
relation to policy areas that are already with the EU.  This means that
National Parliaments and Governments would lose their power to decide
matters for some 60 policy areas.

The EU Constitution does not give National Parliaments a single new power.
Its Protocol on Subsidiarity provides that National Parliaments must be
informed in advance of proposals for new EU laws, and if one-third of  the
25 Pariaments  think that a particular proposal goes too far and they
object to it, the proposal must be "reviewed" by the Brussels Commission,
but the Commission and Council of Ministers can still go ahead with it.
Contrary to what Taoiseach Ahern claims, this is not a "significant new
power" for National Parliaments. It is not new, for National Parliaments
can object already.  It is not a power, for they can object all they like
and the Commission can go on ignoring them. What National Parliaments get
in this provision of the EU Constitution is  more like a new right to be
ignored.

If  the Taoseach wishes for a proper national debate on the proposed EU
Constitution, as he says he does, he should not himself make such
fundamental misrepresentations regarding what is in the Treaty.

Under the heading "No vote will not kill constitution" (P.11)the same
paper's EU Correspondent, Denis Staunton, makes a seriously inaccurate
statement which could have a fundamentally misleading effect on public
attitudes to what should be done following a posssible No vote to the EU
Constitution in France or Holland.  Mr Staunton writes:  "According to the
Constitution, if at least four-fifths of the member states ratify it by
November next year and the others are unable to do so, 'the matter will be
referred to the European Council' of EU leaders."

Contrary to what Denis Staunton states, this is not "according to the
constitution". The EU Constitution contains no such provision, and even if
it did, how could States be bound by the provisions of a document that is
not yet ratified?

What Denis Staunton misleadingly refers to as "part of the constitution" is
a political Declaration, No.30,  that is attached to the Constitution but
is not  legally part of it, and which was adopted by the Intergovernmental
Conference  that drafted  the final  Treaty-cum-Constitution. This
Declaration reads:  "The Conference notes that if, two years after the
signature of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, four fifths
of the Member States have ratified it and one or more Member States have
encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter will
be referred to the European Council."

Note that the Declaration states that "IF Š four fifths of the Member
States  have ratified."  This is not an obligation on them to proceed with
ratification if one Member State has  said No and the others decide to
respect that No.  The terms of this Declaration, which is not of course
itself  a Treaty,  make quite clear that the decision by other EU States
to ignore  a possible No vote in France or Holland and to proceed with
ratification in other States as if  a French or Dutch No could be reversed
or over-ruled, is a purely political  matter -  without any legal force
behind it.  It would be an attempt by politicians, bureaucrats and
propagandists to bully the people of the country concerned to get them to
change their minds.

This is the kind of outrageously undemocratic  behaviour that Ireland's
political elite engaged in in this country when voters rejected the Nice
Treaty in June 2001.  When that happened, Taoiseach  Bertie Ahern could
have told his EU partners that he wished the ratification process to stop.
Instead he when to  the EU summit in Gothenburg the week afterwards to
apologise to them for the way the Irish people had voted, told them to
ignore that vote and to go ahead with ratifying the Nice Treaty, and that
he would re-run the referendum and get a different result  by means of
changing the referendum rules  and securing the help of other EU
politicians to threaten, bully and cajole the Irish electorate a second
time around.

French Prime Minister Raffarin has satated that there will be no second
vote in France - thereby  showing more respect for his people than
Taoiseach Ahern did for his - and showing also that he  is aware of what
the significance of a Treaty Declaration.

For his article Denis Staunton dredges up some Professor of Politics in
Edinburgh - presumably some Jean Monnet Professor? - to state, quite
falsely, that there is an obligation under international law for the EU
Member States to continue trying to ratify this Treaty when one State has
rejected it.

There is  no such obligation. Where could such an "obligation" come from?
The Declaration referred to is not an international treaty and imposes no
legal obligation whatever. It is a statement of intention in hypothetical
circumstances: namely, that the 25 Governments would discuss the matter if
four-fifths of EU States did not ratifiy the Treaty.  But that does not
amount to a requirement that they should go ahead with their own
ratifications while ignoring No votes in some countries, contrary to what
Mr Stanton and his Edinburgh Politics Professor state.  That would be a
political decision. It  would not be legally required.

It is surprising that such an experienced correspondent as Mr Staunton does
not seem to know the difference between a Declaration attached to a Treaty,
which is a political  statement but not legally binding as part of that
treaty, and a Treaty's substantive Articles and Protocols, which are
legally binding.  If Mr Staunton had enquired a little harder he might have
found someone properly qualified in international law who would have been
be able to tell him what was in the EU Constitution and what was not and
who could explain the legal/political weight that might attach to political
Delarations.

One suspects that Denis Staunton is merely echoing and seeking to drum up
support for the policy line now being pushed by the eurocrats of the EU
Commission and the many eurofanatics and eurobullies across the EU who want
to ignore a possible No vote by the people of either France or Holland in
their referendums, so as to keep their precious  Constitution project on
the road, from which they stand to gain so much personally themselves.

This is playing politics and pushing EU propaganda, not  good journalism.
It us unfortunate that so many European correspondents who "go native" in
Brussels seem unable to tell the difference.

Signed: Anthony Coughlan
(01)830 57902
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