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Citizens’ Demonstration outside the Dáil on Monday, “Europe Day”, 9 May, from 12.30 to 2:00, against the farce within

JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION  AGAINST THE  “EU RE-DEDICATION RITES” OUTSIDE THE DÁIL,  MONDAY  9 MAY, FROM 12.30 TO 2:00PM

Ireland’s Euro-fanatics and ultra-Europhiles are getting panicky.

As the European Central Bank turns us all into indentured debt peons for a generation and France and Germany plan assaults on our 12.5% company tax rate, they fear that Ireland’s long love-affair with the EU may be coming to an end.

Hence the ceremony of re-dedication planned for the Dáil this Monday, “Europe Day”, 9 May.

It is meant as an opportunity for the political  leaders of  the Euro-faithful to renew their vows.

Lucinda Creighton, Dick Roche’s successor as Minister for Europe, is the occasion’s impresario.

Ireland’s Commissar, the exorbitantly-paid Fianna Fail appointee Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, will address the Dáil.

The State’s 12 MEPs will attend so that TDs can ask them questions. Let us hope that at least some TDs will have good questions ready on the power-grabbing, expenses-fiddling and corruption of the European Parliament.

This special Dáil session will undoubtedly see much cant about “the European ideal”,  “our European partners” etc. in the hope of impressing the continentals. But they just want our money these days, as Irish taxpayers are mulcted under the aegis of the ECB to meet the bad debts of German and French private banks.

The reason 9 May is “Europe Day” is to commemorate French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman’s launch of the European Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950. The “Schuman Declaration” which he issued that day spoke frankly of the establishment of this first supranational European community as “a first step in the federation of Europe” – a federation being of course a State. That is what makes this statement and this day so important for the Euro-federalists.

Irish people have been lied to time and time again to conceal the fact of a federal-style quasi-Superstate under Franco-German hegemony being the ultimate political purpose of the EU.  For decades they have been sold the falsehood that the EU is just about jobs and growth, and not a political/fiscal union.  Remember the “Vote Yes for Jobs” slogan of the Yes-side groups in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum?

The “myth of origin” of the EU/EC is that it is essentially  a “peace project” to end wars between France and Germany. This is quite unhistorical. The truth is that the 1950 Coal and Steel Community was thought up to reconcile France to German rearmament in the newly founded NATO – a key aim of American policy at the start of the Cold War. The French were alarmed at the thought of Germany being rearmed just six years after the Germans occupied France.  Jean Monnet, who authored Schuman’s declaration, was America’s man in the affair. The Americans backed strongly the Monnet/Schuman proposal to put the coal and steel industries of France, Germany and the Benelux  countries under a common supranational High Authority, of which Monnet was made first Secretary-General. This was the predecessor of the later Brussels Commission. This step quelled French anxieties at the time. In those days European integration was US Government policy, and it  is well-known that the CIA financed the European Movement throughout the 1950s and 1960s and perhaps later to push that objective.

CITIZENS’ DEMONSTRATION: There will be a non-party Citizens’ Demonstration against this Europe Day farce outside the Dáil in Kildare Street  from 12.30 to 2.00 pm. on Monday, 9 May.

PEOPLE ARE INVITED TO BRING A POSTER WITH THEM, WITH AN APPROPRIATE MESSAGE, but no party banners: for example  “EU/ECB Rule: Death of Irish Democracy”,  “Ireland Yes, EU/ECB No”, “Europe Day Dail Farce”, or some variant of these.

AND PLEASE PASS ON THIS MESSAGE TO OTHERS.

(Signed) Anthony Coughlan
Director
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792

Ireland after it’s 2011 General Election

Statement from the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, March 2011

1. FIANNA FÁIL DOWN, FINE GAEL AND LABOUR STILL TO GO

One big party – Fianna Fáil –  that supported Ireland’s blanket Bank bailout, the EU/IMF stitch-up last December,  the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which abolished the Irish púnt,  and every other step towards EU-integration over decades, bit  the dust in the February General Election. We must now wait some time to see the two other big parties that did exactly the same thing, namely Fine Gael and Labour, bite the dust also as they impose on us the savage rigours of the EU-IMF deal over the next few years.  This should open the way for the new political forces that were reflected in the success of the Independent TDs, the trebling  of Sinn Féin’s Dáil representation and the advent of the United Left Alliance, to become the genuine opposition force in Irish politics that is so obviously needed

2. IRISH LABOUR AS THE MUDGUARD OF FINE GAEL

If the Labour Party were really to act in the “national interest” which it prates so much about and in accordance with the programme it sought the votes of the people on, its leaders would let Fine Gael form a government on its own, with Fianna Fail and other support from outside.  Fianna Fail would not dare to vote against a Fine Gael minority government for several years, so that such a government would be quite stable.   Instead, as Sean O’Casey said of Labour at the time of the first Fine Gael-Labour Coalition of 1948-51: “Their posteriors are aching for the velvet seats of office.” Instead of Labour being the largest element in opposing the Fine Gael/Fianna Fail implementation of the EU/IMF stitch-up, Messrs Gilmore, Rabbitte, Quin and Howlin and Joan Burton have assumed Irish Labour’s traditional role of “mudguard of Fine Gael rather than advance-guard of the workingclass”!  It used be said that Labour struggles with its conscience, and Labour always wins. . . Except that on this occasion a handful of ageing Labour leaders were so desperate to get into office for their own benefit that there was not even the pretence of such a struggle.

Since 1948 Labour’s role in Irish politics has been periodically to revive Fine Gael from near terminal decline by putting it into office, simultaneously enabling Fianna Fail with virtually identical policies to revive itself in opposition. Thus the Irish Establishment could afford the luxury of having two big parties to champion its interests rather than one. Labour Ministers got big jobs, good salaries and pensions for their services, while the Labour Party was decimated in the subsequent election. This has happened on four occasions since 1951. The difference on this occasion is that Fianna Fail’s electoral defeat has been so great that it may not be able to recover in opposition. There is no real objective social basis for its continuance as a political party, now that the impact of the financial crisis and the huge increase in its vote has enabled Fine Gael to morph into becoming Ireland’s “natural” conservative party.

Whether this will actually happen depends on the non-Fianna Fail forces on the Opposition benches working together in the period ahead to make themselves into a cohesive, credible and radical opposition, cooperating  with one another at least on fundamentals.  It is inevitable that there will be a major reaction against Fine Gael and its Labour junior partner in the next general election, as they spend years as the local administrators of German-sponsored EU-IMF austerity.  The next election may also come about much sooner than five years because of the continuing national and international financial crisis.

3. THE EUROZONE FRAMEWORK OF IRELAND’S ECONOMIC CRISIS

The Irish State’s economic crisis stems fundamentally from its folly in joining the Eurozone in the first place in 1999, impelled by the longstanding uncritical Europhilia of the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour parties and others. By abolishing the national currency at that time, Ireland adopted the currency of an area with which it did only one-third of its trade (i.e. exports and imports combined).  Another third of its trade was with the UK and the other third with the USA and the rest of the world.  Last year two-thirds of the Irish State’s foreign trade was still outside the Eurozone!  Moreover, joining the Eurozone led Ireland to adopt negative real interest rates at the height of the “Celtic Tiger” boom and thereby inflated the property bubble which has now burst, leaving both  the State and its State-guaranteed banks objectively insolvent.

The 10 EU Member States outside the Eurozone  – Denmark, Sweden, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic etc.- have nothing like the Irish State’s problems. These EU Member States are thanking their stars these days that they avoided the course of folly that Ireland’s political elite pushed its people on to. A little thought will show one that abolishing the púnt was by far the worst decision ever taken by an Irish Government. It was far worse than the 2008 blanket Bank guarantee by Taoiseach Cowen and Finance Minister Lenihan, for if the Republic had not joined the Eurozone in the first place, there would have been no need for that guarantee.  It was the European Central Bank which insisted that it be given:  namely, that no Irish bank must be allowed to fail in case the German-French banks from which the Irish banks had borrowed, would not be paid back.

If we had stayed outside the Eurozone there would have been no ECB to bother us.  The Eurofanaticism which led Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to push through the Maastricht Treaty and push us into the Eurozone initially has been the most outstanding historical delinquency of Ireland’s political Establishment. Yet deference to the EU is so ingrained in 26-County official and media opinion that many who should know better are too timid even today to recognize and draw attention to these obvious points.

There are calls for a public enquiry into the infamous blanket bank guarantee of September 2008 and why it was continued last September. More relevant and useful would be an enquiry into the folly that led the Irish State to join the Eurozone in the first place, from which the financial collapse and the bank guarantee have both stemmed.

4. SACRIFICING IRELAND’S CHILDREN TO HOLD THE EUROZONE TOGETHER : THE 24 MARCH EUROPEAN COUNCIL MEETING

We are now trapped like rats inside the Eurozone, although it is only a matter of time before the Eurozone breaks up and some or all of its Member States leave it and reestablish their national currencies, for its structural faults are irremediable.  The only question is how soon will this occur and in what circumstances – whether it will be done in an organised or disorganized fashion.  In the meantime Germany, with France holding on to its coat-tails, plans for Ireland and the other peripheral Eurozone countries a punishing regime of austerity and national asset sales that could go on for years.

On 24 March the European Council meeting of EU Prime Ministers and Presidents is expected to agree an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty to set up a permanent EU bailout fund from 2013 – the European Financial Stability Mechanism. Ireland will be expected to contribute to this, but it will not have retrospective effect or alleviate the pain for the Irish people of last December’s EU-IMF stitch-up.  The EU authorities are very anxious to avoid a referendum in any EU State on the establishment of this Fund even though it will entail an amendment to the EU Treaties. The EU Summit meeting will seek to push through this amendment by using the “self-amending provision” of the Lisbon Treaty (Article 48 TEU). Messrs Kenny and Gilmore will be under pressure to push it through in Ireland without a constitutional referendum on the grounds that it is only a minor technical change and does not increase the powers of the EU.
The Opposition TDs in Leinster House will need to consider a Court challenge to this likely course, if the incoming Government seeks to follow Fianna Fail’s policy of denying the Irish people a referendum on this EU Treaty change.  At the same time there is likely to be an attack on Ireland’s 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax rate and a scheme for a common cross-EU Tax Base which would fundamentally subvert Ireland’s attractiveness for foreign investors. The Common Tax Base idea, which the Brussels Commission is proposing, is a scheme for so-called “destination taxes”.  It envisages Corporation Tax being calculated centrally at EU level so that firms pay profits tax to the governments of the different countries in which they sell their goods, and not to the Government of the country where those goods are originally made.

The new Irish Government needs to coordinate its responses to the crisis with the governments of the other so-called PIIGS countries in the Eurozone – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – and resist the Franco-German dictation now taking place. This depends on Messrs Kenny and Gilmore overcoming the  decades-old habits of Irish deference and political kow-towing to the EU and our EU “partners”. It needs them to  show some political backbone and willingness to stand up for Irish interests.  Up to now Irish policy is to keep as far apart from the other PIIGS countries as possible. This is in line with the Iveagh House people’s policy of always seeing Ireland as being the “good boy” in the EU class, happy as long as it receives pats on the head for good behaviour from Franco-Germany!

5. HOLDING THE ECB TO RANSOM

The ECB has lent the Irish Banks some €150 billion. If the Irish banks all closed tomorrow morning, the ECB would not get its €150 billion back because that money is now in the system in Ireland. The ECB knows that Ireland’s banks have not got the money to pay it this vast sum. From the ECB’s point of view its best plan to recover the money it advanced to cover the reckless lending of the banks is to shift the burden of repayment on to the Irish taxpayers. Therefore the political and media suggestion that the ECB will close down the ATM machines so there will be no money in the system, is so much scaremongering to intimidate the public into agreeing to take on these debts it is not responsible for. The central issue at present is that the ECB wants the Irish State and taxpayers to take on the burden of paying this €150 billion back to the ECB as rapidly as possible, so that instead of the Irish Banks owing the ECB this vast sum of money, the Irish State/taxpayers will do so and will pay it back over years by flogging off the Banks themselves to foreign owners, selling off the NAMA loans at knockdown prices, privatizing State assets systematically and screwing Irish taxpayers for this purpose.

This is essentially what the EU/IMF Memorandum of Understanding commits the Irish Government to doing.  The Irish public needs to be warned that what its political leaders are planning is a massive fire-sale to foreigners of the recapitalized Irish Banks and State assets generally – the NAMA loans, Coillte, An Post, the ESB, Bord Gais etc. and Ireland’s natural resources, so that we can pay back the money the ECB is putting in  the Irish Banks, essentially in order to ensure that private banks in Germany, France and Britain do not suffer losses on their Irish operations. Until this fire-sale is completed, the ECB depends on us and we can in effect hold it to ransom.  Hence the new Irish Government should be in no hurry to comply with the ECB’s wishes.  It should act in accordance with the old truism: If you owe the Bank a million you are in trouble, but if you owe it a hundred million it is the Bank that is in trouble!  The ECB stood irresponsibly by while the German, French and British banks punted huge sums on the Irish property market for years and made big profits thereby.  As the Eurozone’s lender of last resort the ECB should now pick up the tab.  The Irish State needs to repudiate the horrendous private Bank debts that it has so foolishly guaranteed, if it is to be able to repay its legitimate sovereign debts and return to the international bond markets at an early date in order to borrow at reasonable interest rates.

6.  MONETARY UNIONS, FISCAL UNIONS, POLITICAL UNIONS

One cannot have an independent State unless it has its own currency, and with that control of either its interest rate or exchange rate policy, for these are fundamental  economic instruments for advancing a people’s welfare.  Those who fought for an Irish Republic historically took for granted that national independence meant that an Irish State would have its own currency and the related economic instruments.  The rate of interest is the internal  “price” of money, so to speak, and the currency exchange rate is its external “price”. A Government cannot control either unless it has a currency of its own in the first place.  That is why former EU Commission President Romano Prodi exulted when the Monetary Union was set up for a minority of EU States in 1999: “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency and we have changed that.”

The fundamental problem for the Eurozone and its 17 Governments is that there cannot be a stable, lasting monetary union that is not also a tax and public spending union, and hence a Political Union, so that its component Member States are compensated for loss of their  ability to influence their competitiveness by varying their exchange rate – for they have no independent currencies any longer – by automatic  transfers from richer to poorer States through a common federal-style Eurozone tax and public service system. The latter means a Political Union like the USA, and the dream of building a United States of Europe on similar lines to the US has for decades been a dream/fantasy of the Euro-federalists, of whom there are many in the leadership of the Fine Gael and Labour parties.

A system of common taxes and public services exists within national States, but it does not exist cross-nationally.  It cannot exist cross-nationally because the social solidarity, the sense of community and mutual identification, the sense of being a common political “We”, which is what makes people pay taxes freely and willingly to a common Government because it is “their” Government, does not exist at EU level.  A democracy or democratic State is impossible without a “demos”, a people; and there is no EU or Eurozone “demos”, in contrast to its component Nation States.

This is the fundamental fallacy of the EU integration project, the attempt to turn the EU into a quasi-State, even though already half or more of the legal acts made in each of the 27 EU Member States each year are on average of EU origin. Free trade is one thing, and is normally a good thing.  A common currency, credit and exchange rate policy for very different economies is something totally different. The resistance of German public opinion to financing Greece, Ireland, Portugal etc. in the current  Eurozone crisis is but one small example of this. The solidarity needed for such continual resource transfers between the Member States of the Eurozone to enable it hold together does not and cannot exist. Nor can it be artificially created.

7. REESTABLISHING IRELAND’S NATIONAL CURRENCY

The advantage of a country having its own currency is that it enables its Government either to control credit and issue money for purposes of job-stimulus and the like through varying the rate of interest, or to influence its competitiveness with other economies by varying its exchange rate. Governments can set a target for either the interest rate or the exchange rate, but they cannot achieve both targets simultaneously, for each rate affects the other.

In the Eurozone interest rate and exchange rate policy are quite properly decided in the interests of the Big States, for they contain most of the population of the Eurozone. The one-size-fits-all interest rate regime of the European Central Bank (ECB) must always be unsuitable for some Eurozone countries therefore, for the 17 economies concerned differ widely.  Moreover, as the Irish State does nearly two-thirds of its trade outside the Eurozone, whereas all of the 16 other Eurozone members do half or more of their trade with one another, the exchange rate for the euro must normally be unsuitable for Ireland also. This is vividly shown these days as the euro rises vis-a-vis the dollar and pound sterling. This hits Irish exports to the dollar/sterling areas where we do most of our trade and encourages competing imports from those areas.
Having taken the disastrous step of joining the Eurozone in the first place, it would be foolish to pretend that one can get out of it without pain, especially when Irish Governments have agreed to stand over the mess in the State’s private banks and have built up such a deficit in the State’s public finances. However, re-establishing an independent Irish currency and with that its own credit and exchange rate policy has to be a central objective of all genuine Irish democrats, for without that there can be no truly independent Irish State. People should not be afraid to state this, especially as the pain of remaining in the Eurozone is mounting all the time and the historical trends point to continual strains within it and continual crisis as long as it lasts, and its eventual partial or total dissolution is inevitable.

The threat of repudiating the private bank debt now moved to the ECB  and of reestablishing the Irish pound is the principal lever/weapon the Irish State has vis-à-vis the Eurozone. At present Ireland cannot restore its economic competitiveness by devaluing its currency. It can only become more competitive by “devaluing” – that is, by  cutting –  peoples’ pay, profits and pensions instead for years to come.  The main advantage of leaving the Eurozone and rejoining the 10 EU Member States outside it is that it would enable the Ireland to resume control of its money supply and credit and thereby stimulate domestic demand and employment, while simultaneously it could boost the State’s economic competitiveness by devaluing the exchange rate. The main drawback of this step is that much of the State’s foreign debts would be in euros, if the Eurozone still existed, and would be expensive to pay off in a depreciating currency. On the other hand, the boost to competitiveness and exports arising from having a more suitable exchange rate than the Eurozone one, should enable Ireland earn more foreign currency with which to pay those debts. Temporary exchange controls would also be needed for a transitional period. It is in any case likely that some countries will leave the Eurozone in the next few years, if the Eurozone as a whole succeeds in holding together at all.

If the Eurozone breaks up, a planned dissolution and a related reapportionment of debts would clearly be better than a disorganized one.  There are many examples of monetary unions that have dissolved and been replaced by national currencies. The Irish State itself left the UK monetary union in 1921, although it maintained an overvalued púnt at par with sterling until 1979.  The USSR rouble was replaced in short order by 15 successor currencies in its 15 successor States in 1991. The Czechoslovak crown and Yugoslav dinar were replaced by successor currencies in the 1990s.  In 1919 the Austro-Hungarian thaler was replaced by the different currencies of its several successor States.

What is happening now is that Ireland, Greece, Portugal etc. and the interests of their peoples are being sacrificed in order to save the Eurozone, whose dissolution would be a blow to the entire integration project of building a European quasi-superstate under Franco-German hegemony to become a big power in the world.  The acolytes of that project in Ireland  – in the leadership of the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour parties, in Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House, the Dept.of Finance and the Taoiseach’s Department, in the Central Bank, the Irish Times, RTE and the senior echelons of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions  – are desperately afraid that their political life’s work may have been in vain, so  they are quite willing that the welfare of the Irish people be sacrificed to save it. These are perhaps the most fundamental issues that are at stake in the current crisis.

People should remember also that the only period in the 90-years’ history of the Irish State when it used its monetary independence, followed an independent exchange rate policy and effectively floated the currency, from 1993 to 1999, gave us the “Celtic Tiger” rates of economic growth of 8% a year – until that was destroyed by the low-interest-rate-induced bubble of the Eurozone from 2000 onward.

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.
 

Germany demands a Lisbon III … and the Government and Attorney General Paul Gallagher will come under pressure to obey

It is the Supreme Court, not the Government or its Attorney General, that has the power ultimately to decide whether a referendum will be needed in Ireland if Germany, backed by France, insists on changing the EU Treaties to suit its interests.

Little more than a year since the EU Heads of State and Government assured everyone that no further EU Treaty changes would be needed for the foreseeable future, the same people seem now willing to bow to Germany’s wishes to change the Treaties anew to give the EU more power.

If Treaty changes are agreed in the coming period, the Irish Government, and Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC in particular, will come under heavy pressure to avoid an Irish referendum at all costs, for fear it may be lost.  If Mr Gallagher obliges he can almost certainly expect to face a re-run of the Crotty case.

It was Attorney General Gallagher who advised the Government in September 2008 that a State guarantee of all the debts of Ireland’s private banks was legal and that Irish law required that the creditors and bondholders of the Irish Banks could not be touched in view of such a guarantee.  This opened the way to Finance Minister Lenihan paying €7.9 billion to the senior bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank just three weeks ago, without any question of them being asked to take a “haircut”, as Irish taxpayers paid up to meet the money foreign investors had lent to Messrs Sean Fitzpatrick and Co.

Elements of the so-called  “bailout fund” for the eurozone that was agreed by the EU Governments last May are almost certainly in breach of Articles 122 to 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (NB. This is not the Lisbon Treaty, but rather the second of the two basic EU Treaties that were amended by Lisbon and which are currently in force.)

What we see playing out in the current economic crisis is Germany’s attempt, for the third time in a  century, to dominate Europe by means of its dominance of the eurozone –  with France holding on to its coat-tails, as the Vichyist rather than Gaullist tradition governs policy in Paris.

The Irish public should find it instructive to see the Eurofanatics and career-federalistas in Iveagh House, Upper Merrion Street, Kildare Street and the Irish Times positioning themselves in the coming period to comply anew with the wishes of their new Teutonic masters.

The Eurofanaticism that led them to support the Maastricht Treaty abolishing the Irish national currency and to join the euro-zone in 1999 – an area with which we did only one-third of our trade – is primarily responsible for getting the country into its present dire economic and political mess.  It will be interesting to see their spin-doctors turn and twist as they try and justify their disastrous course over the coming months, and engage in the blame-game vis-à-vis one another that has already covertly started.
(29 October 2010)

⁂ German judgement is a call to action against the EU’s democratic deficit

JENS-PETER BONDE
(EUObserver/Comment)
24 July 2009

The German Constitutional Court issued a remarkable verdict on 30 June. It was described in the press as the Court’s approval of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

However, careful reading of the judgement shows that it is a fundamental rejection of the core constitutional content of the Treaty.

The Court judgement modifies the most important principle of the primacy of European law. Member States are said to be the “masters of the Treaties.” In the Court’s view the EU institutions have no powers of their own. They can only administer delegated competences in prescribed areas. European law is stated to be ultimately based on and limited by the accession law of each Member State.

The German Court implicitly invites any citizen, political party or business firm in Germany to take court cases before the German Constitutional Court if they find that a piece of proposed EU law is outside those delegated competences. Then it is the German Court that will decide – not the EU Court.

This is a rejection of Art. 344 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that Member States undertake not to submit a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaties to any method of settlement other than the European Court of Justice.

The Karlsruhe Court also insists that there must be important areas of law-making and decision-taking left to the EU Member States. This is an invitation to politicians everywhere to ask their governments what competences are left with the Member States after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty.

I have offered a bottle of top class wine to anyone who can give me just one example of a national law which cannot be touched in some way by the Lisbon Treaty. Legal specialists have tried to find examples; yet they cannot!

If EU governments cannot find room for the exercise of meaningful national parliamentary democracy within the ambit of the EU, then the Lisbon Treaty is unconstitutional, according to the German Court.

The Court does not accept that the European Parliament is a body which can give adequate democratic legitimacy to European Union law. The Court also sets limits to the importance of the new “additional” Union citizenship and states that this can only be supplementary to national citizenship.

The Court insists on national parliamentary participation in all areas where Member States would lose their right of veto.

The judges unanimously insist, by 8 votes to nil, on prior approval by the German Parliament – and implicitly by other National Parliaments – for the use of the so-called “bridge articles” whereby Government Ministers on the Council of Ministers or the European Council can alter EU law-making from unanimity to qualified majority voting.

The judges also require full participation of National Parliaments in the use of the flexibility clause in Art. 352 TFEU, which permits the EU to take action and adopt measures to attain one of the EU’s objectives even if the Treaties have not provided the necessary powers.

Finally, the Court forbids the German President from signing the Treaty so as to enable Germany’s instrument of ratification to be deposited in Rome until the German Parliament has adopted a law which would safeguard the involvement of the German Bundestag and Bundesrat in future EU decision-making.

The most striking element in the judgement is that the Court implies the need for the involvement of National Parliaments in all aspects of EU law-making. They refer to democracy as being a principle common to all the EU Member States. The involvement of National Parliaments in EU law-making is therefore a necessity. If not, the principle of democracy will have been fundamentally breached.

Recognising the democratic deficit

The Karlsruhe Court effectively finds that the Lisbon Treaty would increase the EU’s widely acknowledged democratic deficit if its ratification is not linked to the adoption of internal procedures at Member State level such as to safeguard the involvement of the National Parliaments and voters in each Member State.

The verdict applies only to Germany, of course. But it has significant implications for all Member States, including those which have already approved and ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

With this Court judgement in hand, political parties and groups of citizens in each Member State are implicitly invited to go to their National Parliaments and insist on similar guarantees being given in order to ensure the involvement of elected representatives and voters in EU decision-making in each one.

If Germany’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is found to be illegal and in contravention of basic democratic principles in the absence of such parliamentary controls, should not the same principle apply in all other Member States that claim to be democracies?

The Karlsruhe judgement should inspire people to call for similar constitutional and parliamentary challenges in other EU countries. This may establish strengthened procedures for national parliamentary control and safeguard areas where national parliamentary democracies can decide things on their own without interference from, for example, the EU Court of Justice.

Such calls may also win time to make people aware of the anti-democratic character of the Lisbon Treaty and ensure that this is not ratified by all EU States before it has been approved by Irish voters in their referendum re-run on 2 October next, and can be put later before British voters in a referendum in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom must have a general election before June next year. The Conservative Party, which is likely to win that election, has pledged to withdraw the United Kingdom’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on its first day in office if the Treaty has not come into force by then for all 27 EU States. It has then pledged to hold a referendum on it and to recommend a No vote to the British people.

There needs to be a democratic review of the Lisbon Treaty in all EU countries before any such encounter with UK voters.

(The author was MEP 1979 – 2008 and served as a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe)

Excerpts from the German Constitutional Court judgement in the English version published by the Court, 30 June 2009.

“European unification on the basis of a union of sovereign states under the Treaties may not be realised in such a way that the Member States do not retain sufficient room for the political formation of the economic, cultural and social circumstances of life.” (Headnotes to the Judgement, Par. 3)

“It is therefore constitutionally required not to agree dynamic treaty provisions with a blanket character or if they can still be interpreted in a manner that respects national responsibility for integration, to establish, at any rate, suitable national safeguards for the effective exercise of such responsibility.” (Par.239)

“European unification on the basis of a union of sovereign states under the Treaties may not be realised in such a way that the Member States do not retain sufficient space for the political formation of the economic, cultural and social circumstances of life. This applies in particular to areas which shape the citizens’ circumstances of life, in particular the private space of their own responsibility and of political and social security, which is protected by the fundamental rights, and to political decisions that particularly depend on previous understanding as regards culture, history and language and which unfold in discourses in the space of a political public that is organised by party politics and Parliament. Essential areas of democratic formative action comprise, inter alia, citizenship. the civil and military monopoly on the use of force, revenue and expenditure including external financing and all elements of encroachment that are decisive for the realisation of fundamental rights, above all as regards intensive encroachments on fundamental rights such as the deprivation of liberty in the administration of criminal law or the placement in an institution. These important areas also include cultural issues such as the disposition of language, the shaping of circumstances concerning the family and education, the ordering of the freedom of opinion, of the press and of association and the dealing with the profession of faith or ideology.” (Par. 249)

“Consequently, the Treaty of Lisbon does not alter the fact that the Bundestag as the body of representation of the German people is the focal point of an interweaved democratic system.” (Par. 277)

“… the European Parliament is not a body of representation of a sovereign European people.” (Par.280)

“The deficit of European public authority that exists when measured against requirements on democracy in states cannot be compensated by other provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon and to that extent, it cannot be justified.” (Par.289)

“As regards the legal situation according to the Treaty of Lisbon, this consideration confirms that without democratically originating in the Member States, the action of the European Union lacks a sufficient basis of legitimisation.” (Par.297)

“Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon does not vest the European Union with provisions that provide the European union of integration (Integrationsverband) with the competence to decide its own competence (Kompetenz-Kompetenz).” (Par.322)

“With Declaration No.17 Concerning Primacy annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, the Federal Republic of Germany does not recognise an absolute primacy of application of Union law, which would be constitutionally objectionable, but merely confirms the legal situation as it has been interpreted by the Federal Constitutional Court. . .” (Par. 331)

“After the realisation of the principle of the sovereignty of the people in Europe, only the peoples of the Member States can dispose of their respective constituent powers and of the sovereignty of the state. Without the expressly declared will of the peoples, the elected bodies are not competent to create a new subject of legitimisation, or to delegitimise the existing ones, in the constitutional areas of their states.” (Par. 347)

⁂ Belgian Foreign Minister: EU increasingly governed by the few

Every year some 120 Belgian ambassadors abroad come to Brussels for an information day. This year foreign Minister Karel De Gucht outlined the priorities for the Belgian EU presidency, the second half of 2010. He especially wants to combat the tendency of the bigger EU countries to dominate.

“The European Union may not become an institute run by a small elite group consisting of the larger member states. And this is exactly the direction we are going in at the moment. It’s the big dream of more than one leader of a big member state or a state that thinks it is big to run the show.”

Mr De Gucht points out that in the spirit of the treaties there must be cooperation, not domination. In his opinion Belgium is certainly not alone in its criticism of the growing influence of the larger member states.
“We’ve been saying this for some time- and now I’m noticing that increasingly more countries share our analysis- except for the big countries themselves- that Europe is not served by an elite group of directors.”

Belgian Foreign Minister: EU increasingly governed by the few

Euractiv reports that Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht has said that the ‘institutional balance’ of the EU is in “danger”. With just a year to go until the Belgian EU Presidency, he warned that the EU is increasingly governed by an “executive board of big countries”. Citing the recent G20 summit in London he said, “The London G20 meeting has first been prepared in Berlin by a small group of [EU] member countries, that is, those of them who are G20 members. The General Affairs Council was barely consulted, in fact only post factum.”

EurActiv Knack

⁂ “EU discrimination directive could require faith schools to take atheist pupils”

EU directive could open up faith schools to non-believers
Plans drawn up by the European Union to combat discrimination would allow non-believers to send their children to faith schools and could pave the way for gay marriage in church.

The Telegraph
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner: Václav Klaus, Cohn-Bendit, Pöttering, Brian Crowley

Excerpts from the meeting between Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, and members of the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament, Friday 5 December 2008, Prague Castle:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit MEP: I brought you a flag, which – as we heard – you have everywhere here at the Prague Castle. It is the flag of the European Union, so I will place it here in front of you.

It will be a tough Presidency. The Czech Republic will have to deal with the work directive and climate package. EU climate package represents less than what our fraction would wish for. It will be necessary to hold on to the minimum of that. I am certain that the climate change represents not only a risk, but also a danger for the future development of the planet. My view is based on scientific views and majority approval of the EP and I know you disagree with me. You can believe what you want, I don’t believe, I know that global warming is a reality.

Lisbon Treaty – I don’t care about your opinions on it. I want to know what you are going to do if the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Senate approve it. Will you respect the will of the representatives of the people? You will have to sign it.

I want you to explain to me what is the level of your friendship with Mr Ganley from Ireland. How can you meet a person whose funding is unclear? You are not supposed to meet him in your function. It is a man whose finances come from problematic sources and he wants to use them to be funding his election campaign into the EP.

President Vaclav Klaus: I must say that nobody has talked to me in such a style and tone for the past 6 years. You are not on the barricades in Paris here. I thought that these manners ended for us 18 years ago but I see I was wrong. I would not dare to ask how the activities of the Greens are funded. If you are concerned about a rational discussion in this half an hour, which we have, please give the floor to someone else, Mr Chairman.

EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering: No, we have plenty of time. My colleague will continue, because anyone from the members of the EP can ask you whatever he likes. (to Cohn-Bendit:) Please continue.

President Vaclav Klaus: This is incredible. I have never experienced anything like this before.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Because you have not experienced me…

President Vaclav Klaus: This is incredible.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit: We have always had good talks with President Havel. And what will you tell me about your attitude towards the anti-discrimination law? I will gladly inform you about our funding.

Hans-Gert Pöttering: Brian Crowley, please.

Brian Crowley MEP: I am from Ireland and I am a member of a party in government. All his life my father fought against the British domination. Many of my relatives lost their lives. That is why I dare to say that the Irish wish for the Lisbon Treaty. It was an insult, Mr. President, to me and to the Irish people what you said during your state visit to Ireland. It was an insult that you met Declan Ganley, a man with no elected mandate. This man has not proven the sources from which his campaign was funded. I just want to inform you what the Irish felt. I wish you that you get the programme of your Presidency through and you will get through what European citizens want to see.

President Vaclav Klaus:  Thank you for this experience which I gained from this meeting. I did not think anything like this is possible and have not experienced anything like this for the past 19 years. I thought it was a matter of the past that we live in democracy, but it is post-democracy, really, which rules the EU.

You mentioned the European values. The most important value is freedom and democracy. The citizens of the EU member states are concerned about freedom and democracy, above all. But democracy and freedom are loosing ground in the EU today. It is necessary to strive for them and fight for them.

I would like to emphasize, above all, what most citizens of the Czech Republic feel, that for us the EU membership has no alternative. It was me who submitted the EU application in the year 1996 and who signed the Accession treaty in 2003. But the arrangements within the EU have many alternatives. To take one of them as sacrosanct, untouchable, about which it is not possible to doubt or criticize it, is against the very nature of Europe.

As for the Lisbon Treaty, I would like to mention that it is not ratified in Germany either. The Constitutional Treaty, which was basically the same as the Lisbon Treaty, was refused in referendums in other two countries. If Mr. Crowley speaks of an insult to the Irish people, then I must say that the biggest insult to the Irish people is not to accept the result of the Irish referendum. In Ireland I met somebody who represents a majority in his country. You, Mr. Crowley, represent a view which is in minority in Ireland. That is a tangible result of the referendum.

Brian Crowley MEP: With all respect, Mr. President, you will not tell me what the Irish think. As an Irishman, I know it best.

President Vaclav Klaus: I do not speculate about what the Irish think. I state the only measurable data which were proved by the referendum.

In our country the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified because our parliament has not decided on it yet. It is not the President’s fault. Let’s wait for the decision of both Chambers of the Parliament, that is the current phase of the ratification process in which the President plays no role whatsoever. I cannot sign the Treaty today, it is not on my table, it is up to the parliament to decide about it now. My role will come after the eventual approval of the Treaty in the Parliament. . .

Hans-Gert Pöttering: … In the conclusion – and I want to leave this room in good terms –  I would like to say that it is more than unacceptable, if you compare us, compare us with the Soviet Union. We are all deeply rooted in our countries and our constituencies. We are concerned about freedom and reconciliation in Europe, we are good willing, not naive.

President Vaclav Klaus: I did not compare you with the Soviet Union, I did not mention the word “Soviet Union”. I only said that I have not experienced such an atmosphere, such style of debate in the past 19 years in the Czech Republic, really.

First published on Indymedia.ie

* The Constitutional Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon [Updated]

The Constitutional Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon

– Giving the EU the constitutional form of a Federal State

Introduction: The peoples of Europe do not want to be turned into citizens of an EU Federation run on most undemocratic lines that would be under the effective control of the political elites of France and Germany.  They want their countries to remain independent democracies whose laws are made by people directly elected by the voters. By rejecting the Lisbon Treaty Ireland is saving both  itself and the EU from  a thoroughly bad Treaty which people in the other EU countries would  reject too if they got the chance to vote on it. This paper explains how the Lisbon Treaty, like the EU Constitution before it, would turn the Nation States of Europe into provinces of an undemocratically-run EU Federation and turn the peoples of Europe into real citizens of an EU State.

*   *   *

“The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations  for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe.” (emphasis added)
Schumann Declaration on the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, 9 May 1950

“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.”
– Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21 June 2004

“From the inside it looks like an arrangement based on Treaties between States. From the outside it looks like a State itself.”
–  Jens-Peter Bonde, From EU Constitution to Lisbon Treaty …  euinfo.ie and euabc.com

“The State may ratify the Treaty of Lisbon signed at Lisbon on the 13th day of December 2007, and  may be a member of the European Union established by virtue of that Treaty.    No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by membership of the European Union, 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.” (emphasis added)
–  Ireland’s 28th Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2008 …The first two sentences of the proposed  constitutional amendment which Irish voters rejected on 12 June 2008

*   *   *

1.  The Treaty of Lisbon is quite different from previous European Treaties, for it would give the EU its own State Constitution. If ratified it would establish a legally new European Union in the constitutional form of a supranational Federation.  It would thereby revolutionise the constitutional and political order of the EU itself and of its Member States.

Implicit in the first sentence quoted above from the Irish Government’s 28th Amendment of the Constitution Bill, which Irish voters rejected on 12  June 2008, is the fact that the Lisbon Treaty would establish a constitutionally  new European Union which legally and politically would be very different from what we know as the “European Union” today. The proposed constitutional amendment would have permitted Ireland to become a member of “the European Union established by virtue of that Treaty”, namely the Treaty of Lisbon. This  implicitly indicated  that the post-Lisbon Union would be a different EU from that which stems from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union, which is the EU that we are members of at present.

The “European Union established by virtue of that Treaty”, which a majority of Irish voters rejected in their June 2008 referendum,  corresponds to the Union that was referred to in the first sentence of Article I-1 of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, which the voters of France and Holland rejected in their 2005 referendums.  This sentence stated: “This Constitution establishes the European Union.”  That sentence in turn corresponded to the following sentences  in Article 1 of the amended Treaty on European Union which would be inserted  by the Treaty of Lisbon if that treaty should be ratified:  “By this treaty the High Contracting Parties establish among themselves a European Union, hereinafter called ‘the Union’ on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they  have in common … The Union shall be founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Treaties’). Those two Treaties shall have the same legal value. The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community.

Both the 2004 EU Constitutional Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon which succeeded it would give the constitutional form of a supranational Federation to the new European Union which they each aimed to establish.  Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would therefore usher in a constitutional and political revolution in what we call the European Union today and in the national constitutional order of the EU’s Member States.  Most people are unaware of this, for the whole process has been shrouded in deception.  Explaining the constitutional and political difference between the post-Lisbon Union and the pre-Lisbon Union is made difficult by the fact that the same name, “The European Union”, is being used for two entities, the pre-Lisbon EU and the post-Lisbon EU, which are constitutionally and politically profoundly different from one another.

The Lisbon Treaty would bring about this constitutional revolution by amending fundamentally the two existing European Treaties, the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty Establishing the European Community (TEC). The former would retain its name, while the latter would be renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).  These two amended Treaties would then become the de facto Constitution of the post-Lisbon European Union which they would constitute or establish, although they would not be called a Constitution.  The EU would thus be given a Constitution indirectly rather than directly, as had been proposed in the original Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. The 1993 Maastricht Treaty was a Treaty ON European Union, not “Of ” Union, for it did not establish an entity with legal personality which could be called the EU.  The Consolidated Treaties as amended by Lisbon would effectively become the “Treaty OF European Union”, for they would do that.

The provision of the Lisbon Treaty that “The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community” (Art.1, amended TEU) makes clear that the post-Lisbon Union would be quite a new entity, as the European Community which Ireland joined in 1973 and of which the 27 countries are all currently members,  would cease to exist.

Member States would still retain their national Constitutions post-Lisbon, but they would be subordinate to the new Union Constitution, as the second of the two sentences quoted above from the 28th Amendment  of the Constitution Bill makes clear.  As such the Irish and other Member State Constitutions would no longer be constitutions of sovereign States, just as the various local states of the USA retain their constitutions although they are subordinate to the Federal USA Constitution.

The new European Union’s powers would be conferred on it by its 27 Member States, for the latter would voluntarily have agreed to obey the EU’s superior authority in the policy areas surrendered, which nowadays cover much the greater part of government. Where else after all could the new Union obtain its powers?   This so-called “principle of conferral” is normal in all classical “bottom-up” Federations, such as the USA, 19th Century Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia, where originally sovereign States agree to surrender sovereignty to a higher federal authority.  These contrast with Federations which have been established by unitary States assuming federal form, for example  post-World War 2 Germany, Russia, India, Nigeria etc., which might be regarded as “top-down” Federations.

The Lisbon Treaty provision permitting a Member State to leave the EU (Art.50, amended TEU) also occurs in some Federal constitutions. There was such a provision in the early constitution of the USSR for example.  The remaining governmental powers, which have mainly to do with the traditional social services and the taxation needed to finance them, would remain with the Member States post-Lisbon. State sovereignty in the new post-Lisbon Union would be divided between the Federal and local state levels, as is normal in classical Federations.

The metamorphosis of the pre-Lisbon EU into a post-Lisbon Union with the same name but of fundamentally different constitutional and political character, is underpinned by changes in the formal structure of the amended Treaties which would become the new Union’s Constitution. The two treaties, the TEU and TFEU, are stated to have the same legal value (Art.1, amended TEU).  Up to now, Article 47 TEU has determined that the Treaty on European Union is subsidiary to the Treaty Establishing the European Community (TEC), which Lisbon would rename The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).  Post-Lisbon, this Article 47 TEU would be replaced by Article 40, amended TEU, which stipulates the subsidiarity of the Common Foreign and Security Policy(CFSP)  only, as against the other competences set out in the treaties. Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty would insert the new Title III on the institutions of the new Union into the Treaty on European Union, the primary treaty, and remove them from the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union, the present TEC, where they are currently set out.

2.  The Treaty would empower the post-Lisbon European Union to act as a State vis-a-vis other States

To understand the change that would be introduced by the Lisbon Treaty one needs to appreciate that what we call the European Union today is not a State. It is not even a distinct legal or corporate entity in its own right, for it does not have legal personality, although some legal writers contend that it has a form of  embryonic personality. Certain it is that the name “European Union” at present is the descriptive legal term for the totality of relations between its 27 Member States and their peoples. Article 1 of the current Treaty on European Union, deriving from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which established the present EU, makes this quite clear when it states that “the Union shall be founded on the European Communities, supplemented by the policies and forms of cooperation established by this Treaty. Its task shall be to organize, in a manner demonstrating consistency and solidarity, relations between the Member States and between their peoples.”

These relations appertain both to the “European Community” area, where supranational European law is operative, and the “intergovernmental” areas of foreign and security policy on the one hand and justice and home affairs on the other, where Member States cooperate freely with one another on the basis of retaining  their  State sovereignty and where European laws do not apply. These different areas, or “pillars” in EU terminology, together constitute what we call the European Union today.

The Lisbon Treaty would change this situation fundamentally by creating a constitutionally and politically new EU, while retaining the same name, the “European Union”.   Unlike the present European Union, this constitutionally new EU would be separate from and superior to its Member States, just as the USA is separate from and superior to Massachussetts or Kansas, or as Federal Germany is to Bavaria or Bremen.

This post-Lisbon Union would sign treaties with other States in all areas of its powers and conduct itself as a State in the international community of States. It would speak at the United Nations on agreed foreign policy positions, just as in the days of the Soviet Union the USSR had a UN seat while some of its component states, Ukraine and Byelorussia for example,  had UN seats too. Member States would be obliged to support the Union’s foreign and security policy “actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity”(Art.24.3, amended TEU) (emphasis added). The word “loyalty” makes clear the constitutional relation involved.

The Lisbon Treaty would also give the EU a political President, a Foreign Minister – to be called the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy –  a diplomatic corps, to be called the External Action Service,  and a Public Prosecutor.  The new EU would accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as most European States inside and outside the EU have already done.

The principle of the primacy and superiority of European law over the law of its  Member States  has not been stated in a European Treaty before.  Whereas Article I-6 of the 2004 Treaty Establishing a Constitution  for Europe did state this explicitly,  the Lisbon Treaty does that by referring in Declaration 17 concerning Primacy to the case-law of the European Court of Justice, which over the years has asserted the principles of (a) the superiority of EU law, (b) its direct effect in the territory of its Member States even if it has not been formally put through their National Parliaments, and (c) the constitutional character of the legal order from which European law emanates.

If the Lisbon Treaty were to be ratified European law and national law would deal with different areas and matters, as is normal in Federal States like the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia.  Lisbon would give the EU the power to make supranational laws that are binding on Member States and their citizens in many new areas and would take that power away from national Parliaments and from the citizens who elect these bodies.  The new Union would make the majority of laws for its Member States each year. Under Lisbon it would get further power to make laws by qualified majority voting in over 30 new policy areas. It would also be given new powers to take decisions in relation to as many specific issues. Altogether there would be some 68 areas or issues where individual Member States decide matters now and where under Lisbon they would lose their veto or their  right to decide.

3. The enormity of the constitutional change proposed by Lisbon is not generally  appreciated because the same name – “The European Union” – would be used before and after the Treaty would come into force, and because the notion of EU “citizenship” has already been introduced by the 1992 Maastricht  Treaty, although the Lisbon Treaty would change fundamentally the constitutional nature of  the Union itself, its Member States and the character and implications of  EU citizenship.

The change in the constitutional and political nature of the Union, its Member States and their citizens would be made in four legal steps which are set out in the Treaty of Lisbon:-

(a)  Lisbon would establish a European Union with full legal personality and a fully independent corporate existence in all Union areas for the first time, so that the post-Lisbon Union would be able to function as a State vis-a-vis other States and in relation to its own citizens (Art. 47, amended TEU; cf. Art.281 TEC);

(b)  This new European Union would replace the existing European Community and take over all of its powers and institutions (Art.1, amended TEU).  It would take over as well the “intergovernmental” powers over crime, justice and home affairs, as well as foreign policy and security, which at present are outside the scope of European law, leaving only aspects  of  the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy outside the scope of its supranational power (Title 1 TFEU; Title V, amended TEU);

(c) It would thereby give a unified constitutional structure to the new Union which Lisbon would constitute or establish. The European Community would disappear and all spheres of public policy would come within the scope of supranational EU law-making either actually or potentially, as in any constitutionally unified Federation (Art.4.1 and Art.5, amended TEU and Arts.1-6 TFEU).   One says “potentially” because further inter-State treaties would be required to transfer the minority of law-making powers still remaining with the Member States to the new Union in the future, or to shift powers back from the supranational level to the Member States, something that has never happened up to now.  Under Lisbon supranational legislative acts would not yet be adopted in the sphere of Common Foreign and Security Policy and a new treaty would be needed to change that.  However the European Commission, a key supranational body, would through the High Representative proposed in the Lisbon Treaty gain the right of initiative in the foreign policy field, so that even in the light of Art. 31.2, amended TEU a de facto “supranationality” would be attained there.

(d) Lisbon would make us all real citizens of the new Federal Union which the Treaty would establish (Arts.9, amended  TEU and 20 TFEU), with all the implications of that for downgrading our present personal status as citizens of  sovereign  Nation States and superseding it by citizenship of  the component member states of a supranational European Federation of which we would henceforth be made citizens also. We would thus have a real dual citizenship henceforth,  as in the classical Federations mentioned.

4.  The Treaty would make us all real citizens of this new European Union for the first time, instead of us continuing as notional, symbolical or honorary European “citizens” as at present. In constitutional terms this would give the post-Lisbon Union a new source of democratic legitimacy. In turn population size would become the prime criterion for EU law-making, as in any unified State with a common citizenry.

One can only be a citizen of a State, and all States must have citizens.  Citizenship of the European Union at present is stated to “complement” national citizenship (Art.17 TEC), the latter being clearly primary, not least because the present EU is not a State or a corporate entity which can have individuals as members. Our “complementary” citizenship of the present EU is therefore essentially notional, symbolical or honorary.

By transforming the legal character of the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty would simultaneously transform the meaning of Union citizenship.  The Treaty would delete the word “complement” in the sentence,“Citizenship of the Union shall complement national citizenship”, so that the amended sentence would read: “Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to national citizenship” (Arts.9, amended TEU and 20 TFEU).  This would not replace our national citizenship, but would for the first time make us real citizens of a real European Union on top of our national citizenship.

This would be a real dual citizenship – not of two different States, but of two different levels of one State – as is normal in Federations which are established from the bottom up by constituent states surrendering their sovereignty to a superior entity, as occurred historically with the USA, 19th Century Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia.   This development would give the 500 million inhabitants of the present EU Member States a real separate citizenship from citizenship of their national States for the first time. It would give a treble citizenship to citizens of the individual Länder within Federal Germany.

The rights and duties attaching to this citizenship of the new Union would be superior to those attaching to citizenship of Ireland in any case of conflict between the two, because of the superiority of EU law over national law and Constitutions. The Preamble to the Treaty on European Union refers to the aim of “establishing a citizenship common to nationals of their countries”.

As most States recognise that one can only have a single citizenship internationally, it is probable that over time one’s European Union citizenship would tend to be regarded by other countries as one’s primary and internationally definitive citizenship rather than one’s Irish citizenship, especially if a network of EU embassies and an EU diplomatic service were to be established to deal with citizenship issues internationally, as the Lisbon Treaty envisages.

An important federal feature of the post-Lisbon EU is that its laws would be made primarily on the basis of aggregate population size, as in any unified State with a common citizenry, rather than on the basis of  the weighted votes of  the Member States as at present.  Currently European laws are made by a qualified or weighted majority of Member States so long as they can muster 255 votes out of 345, with each State having so many votes. Under Lisbon EU laws would be made by 15 States or more out of 27, so long as they constitute 65% of the aggregate EU population.  The number of EU citizens presumed to be for or against an EU law would thus become the primarily determining factor in adopting it or not, although the votes would be cast by Government Ministers on the EU Council of Ministers rather than by the citizens themselves or their directly elected representatives. Germany and France between them contain nearly one-third the EU’s population, so that this citizen-population criterion would significantly increase the relative weight of these and the other Big Member States in EU law-making, while it would significantly diminish that of smaller States.

Lisbon would insert a new Article 10 into the amended Treaty on European Union: “The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament. Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments …”  This  provision clearly sets up an alternative source of democratic legitimacy which challenges the right of national governments to be the representatives of their electorates in the EU.  Contrast this Lisbon Treaty formulation with what is stated to be the foundation of the present European Union (Art.6 TEU): “The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.”

It seems fair to say that Lisbon marks a qualitatively new stage in the gradual evolution of institutional structure away from Europe’s Nation States, which slowly but surely emphasises the idea of democratic legitimacy being developed independently of the Member States by EU-level institutions.

The concept of a direct democratic citizens’ mandate for the new post-Lisbon European Union is reinforced by the encouragement which the same Article gives to the development of European-level political parties that would be part funded by the EU Commission. These are stated to “contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.”(Art.10.4, amended TEU).  It is also emphasised by the obligation imposed on the EU Commission to bypass national governments and  “maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society”(Art.11.2, amended TEU).

5. Lisbon would create a Union Parliament for the Union’s new citizens

The Lisbon Treaty would make Members of the European Parliament, who at present are “representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community“, into “representatives of the Union’s citizens” (Art.14.2, amended TEU; cf. current Art.189 TEC).   This clearly illustrates  the constitutional shift which the Treaty would make from the present European Union of national States and peoples to the new Federal Union of European citizens and their national states – the latter being henceforth reduced constitutionally and politically to effective provincial or regional status within the new Union.

The role of the European Parliament, which was first introduced as a modest check on the EU Executive and was styled an “Assembly” rather than a Parliament under  the Treaty of Rome,  has been elevated in successive EU Treaties. Its MEPs, direct representatives of EU citizens,  now have co-decision-making powers that put the EU Parliament on virtually equal terms with the Member Nation States in ever more areas – including electing the President of the Commission as presented to it by the European Council.  The shift of EU authority as arising directly from EU citizens rather than from the Member Nation States is reflected in the Lisbon Treaty when it states unequivocally that: “The Commission, as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament” (Art.17.8, amended TEU).  The European Parliament approves the Commission members en bloc and may force their collective resignation by a vote of censure.

By contrast, the Council of Ministers – consisting of representatives of the Member Nation States  – has shifted over time from being the directing authority of a European cooperation  in which the Member States acted largely by unanimous agreement, to being  a “second chamber” of national representatives casting votes on a qualified majority basis on European legislation proposed by the Commission. At the same time the Lisbon Treaty proposes to give the EU’s Prime Ministers and Presidents, collectively termed the “European Council”,   more political  control over the post-Lisbon Union

6. Lisbon would create a political Government of the new Union

The Lisbon Treaty would turn the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents into an “institution” of the new Union (Art.13, amended TEU), so that its acts or its “failing to act” would, like the other Union institutions, be subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice (Arts.263-265, TFEU).

Legally speaking, these summit meetings of the European Council would thereafter no longer be “intergovernmental” gatherings of Prime Ministers and Presidents outside supranational European structures. As part of the new EU´s institutional framework, the Prime Ministers and Presidents would instead be constitutionally required to “promote the Union’s values, advance its objectives, serve its interests” and  “ensure the consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions” (Art. 13.1, amended TEU).  They would also “define the general political direction and priorities thereof” (Art.15.1, amended TEU).

As an Institution of the new Union, the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents would, for example, be open in principle to exhortation or direction from the European Court of Justice to initiate steps to harmonise indirect taxes which constituted a “distortion of competition”, something that at present requires unanimity, if they were slow or reluctant to do this (Art.113 TFEU), or if they failed to take steps to ensure that the new Union’s “own resources” were adequate to meet its objectives(Art.311 TFEU).

The European Council would thus become in effect the Cabinet Government of the post-Lisbon Federal EU. Its individual members would in constitutional terms be obliged to represent the Union to their Member States as well as their Member States to the Union, with the former function having legal primacy in any case of conflict between the two.

7. The federalist character of the new Union political President

The federalist character of the European Council “summit” meetings in the proposed new Union structure is further underlined by the provision which would give the European Council a permanent political President for up to five years – two and a half years renewable once (Art.15.5, amended TEU).

There is no gathering of Heads of State or Government in any other international context which maintains the same chairman or president for several years, while individual national Prime Ministers and Presidents come and go.  The federalist character of the new Union President is emphasised also by the Treaty provision which forbids that person from holding any national office and which lays down that he or she shall “ensure the external representation of the Union“(Art.15.6, amended TEU).

It is part of the federalist evolution of the Union that the President of the European Council, the quarterly “summit” meetings of Member State Heads of State or Government, would no longer be a rotating Head of Government, but a permanent EU official.  If the President plays this role effectively – including setting the agenda for legislation and representing the EU on the international stage – he or she is bound to assume increasing status and importance. As a result it would be surprising if in due course there were not suggestions that the President should be directly elected by EU citizens, as France’s President Sarkozy has already urged.

8. The federalist character of the post-Lisbon Commission

As regards the EU’s executive arm, the Commission, the provision of the Lisbon Treaty which would reduce the number of Commissioners by one third of its Member States (Art. 17, amended TEU) is a symbolically important move away from “intergovernmentalism”, for that required  that every Member State had one of its own nationals at all times on the body which proposed all European laws.  An additional move towards a Federal institutional structure is the provision of the Lisbon Treaty which would remove from Member States the right to “propose” members of the Commission – which ensures that each State can insist on its proposals being accepted as a condition for it accepting the proposals of the others – and its replacement by a right to make “suggestions” only,  for the new Commission President to decide (Art.17.7, amended TEU; cf. current Article 214 TEC).  Individual Commissioners shall be chosen on the ground of their “European commitment” amongst other criteria (Art.17.3, amended TEU).  The Commission President would also have the power to shuffle the portfolios of individual Commissioners and require them to resign at will (Art.17.6, amended TEU)  These provisions would effectively give the Commission President powers equivalent to a national Prime Minister in the post-Lisbon EU.

9. Lisbon would endow the citizens of the new Union with a code of civil rights

All States have codes setting out the rights of their citizens. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would be that.  It would be made legally binding by the Lisbon Treaty and would “have the same legal value as the Treaties”(Art. 6.1, amended TEU) . This further embeds the concept that EU citizens have rights and responsibilities defined by the EU itself which transcend those attaching to their national citizenship. Indeed it embodies the concept that the EU determines and is the guarantor of those European citizenship rights across national boundaries.

The Charter is stated to be binding on the Union’s own institutions and on Member States in implementing Union law (Charter of Fundamental Rights, Art. 51). This limitation to EU law and to the EU institutions is unrealistic however because, (a) the principles of the primacy and uniformity of Union law mean that Member States would not only be bound by the Fundamental Rights Charter when implementing EU law, but also through the “interpretation and application of their national laws in conformity with Union laws” (v. ECJ judgements in the Factortame, Simmenthal and other law cases); and  (b) the Charter sets out the fundamental rights of EU citizens in areas where the Union has currently no competence, e.g. outlawing the death penalty, asserting citizens’ rights in criminal proceedings and various other areas. Post-Lisbon in any case Union law would require that the rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights are guaranteed for all EU citizens. They would be part of their EU citizens’ entitlements. There would be little point to the Charter otherwise.  In implementing EU law Member States would be required to implement people’s rights as EU citizens side by side with their rights as national citizens.

The EU has already got a human rights competence in that the Court of Justice can adjudicate on such rights as equality and non-discrimination under the existing Treaties. Therefore making the Charter legally binding does not extend the powers or competence of the Union as such. What Lisbon would do would be to give the ECJ a much wider range of human and civil rights to interpret and decide on, for the Charter would cover all the fundamental rights of EU citizens in the post-Lisbon Union.   Making the Charter legally binding would effectively extend considerably the human and civil rights jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice and would make that Court the final body to decide most of the rights of 500 million EU citizens in the vast area now covered by European law, as against national Supreme Courts and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which are our final fundamental rights Courts today.

If Lisbon is ratified it is only realistic to expect that the EU Commission will in time come to propose European laws to ensure the uniform implementation and guarantee of the EU citizens’ rights provisions of the Charter throughout the Member States. The citizens of the new Union would surely demand no less. American constitutional history provides ample evidence of the radical federalising potential of the fundamental rights jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court.

10. Lisbon would make National Parliaments formally subordinate to the new Union

The Treaty underlines the implicitly subordinate role of National Parliaments in the institutional structure of the new Union by stating that “National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union” by various means which are set out in Article12, amended TEU.

Under the pretext of enhancing the role of National Parliaments, the Lisbon Treaty actually institutionalises their subservience by defining such a limited role for them in the new Union’s structures. National Parliaments must be informed of and may scrutinise draft EU legislative acts, but while the Commission is required to review the legislation if a third or more of National  Parliaments object, the Commission can then decide to continue with the legislation unamended, with its decision confirmed by the normal QMV procedures.

Ultimately it is the EU itself, through the Court of Justice, which has the final right to arbitrate on claims of subsidiarity infringement (Protocol on Subsidiarity and Proportionality, Article 7).  This provision of the Treaty permitting National Parliaments in effect to complain to the Commission, is small compensation for the loss of democracy involved by the loss of some 68 vetoes by National Parliaments as a result of other changes proposed by the Lisbon Treaty. National Parliaments have in any case already lost most of their law-making powers to the EC/EU. The citizens who elect them have lost their powers to decide these laws also.

11. Lisbon would give the new Union self-empowerment powers

These are shown by:

(a) the enlarged scope of the Flexibility Clause (Art.352 TFEU), whereby if  the Treaty does not provide the necessary powers to enable the new Union attain its very wide objectives, the Council may take appropriate measures by unanimity.  The Lisbon Treaty would extend this provision from the area of operation of the common market to all of the new Union’s policies directed at attaining its much wider post-Lisbon objectives. The Flexibility Clause has been widely used to extend EU law-making over the years;

(b) the proposed  Simplified Treaty Revision Procedure (Art.48, amended TEU), which would permit the Prime Ministers and Presidents on the European Council unanimously to shift Union decision-taking from unanimity to qualified majority voting in the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union;  and

(c)    the several “passerelles” or “ratchet-clauses“, which would allow the European Council to switch from unanimity to majority voting in certain specified areas, such as judicial cooperation in civil matters (Art.81.3 TFEU), in criminal matters (Art.83.1 TFEU), in relation to the EU Public Prosecutor (Art.86.4 TFEU) and the Multiannual financial framework (Art.312.2 TFEU).

Conclusion: A Federation without democracy

It is hard to think of any area of national law which would be unaffected by European law in the post-Lisbon EU. It is hard to think of any major function of a sovereign State which the new EU would not have if the Lisbon Treaty were to be ratified. The main one would seem to be the power to make its Member States go to war against their will.  The Treaty does however provide that the EU may go to war while individual Member States may “constructively abstain”(Arts.42-46, amended TEU).

The Treaty also contains a mutual defence clause (Art.42.7, amended TEU), which was so characterised by Commission President J.M.Barroso in a speech on the Treaty on 4 December 2007. This commitment to an EU “mutual defence” is to be distinguished from an obligation to participate in an EU “common defence”, viz. a common European army, which Art.42.2, amended TEU lays down that the “progressive framing of a common Union defence policy… will lead to” (emphasis added).

The obligation on the Union to “provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies” (Art. 311 TFEU), which means raising its “own resources” to finance them, may be regarded as conferring on it wide taxation and revenue-raising powers.  This Article empowers the new Union to “establish new categories of own resources” and in effect to endow itself by means of any tax, so long as the Council of  Ministers agrees that unanimously and it is approved by National Parliaments. Currently public expenditure and the taxation measures needed to finance it remain overwhelmingly at National State level. This is because such social services as health, education, social security and public housing, as well as policing and public transport – the government functions which cost most money – are still mainly at this level. That too is normal in such Federations as the USA, Germany etc.

Jean-Claude Piris, Director-General of the Legal Service of the Council of Ministers, refers to the EU as a “Partially Federal Union” in his well-known book, The Constitution for Europe: A Legal Analysis (Cambridge UP, 2006, p.192).  One might say that it is better characterised as a “Substantially Federal Union”. Piris contends that because it is only partially federal, it is not a federal State. One could say rather that the EU  is just like the classical Federations previously mentioned which have evolved over time and which gradually acquired the characteristics of statehood, and that the European Union post-Lisbon would have virtually all the features of a fully-developed State. As former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, author of the The Lisbon  Treaty-the Readable Version put it: “From the inside it looks like an arrangement based on Treaties between States. From the outside it looks like a State itself.” (see euinfo.ie and euabc.com)

The Lisbon Treaty would shift power away from voters in all EU countries and from small and middle-sized countries to the largest ones.  The post-Lisbon European Union would have its own government, with a legislative, executive and judicial arm, its own political President, its own citizens and citizenship, its own human and civil rights code, its own currency, economic policy and revenue, its own international treaty-making powers, foreign policy, foreign minister, diplomatic corps and United Nations voice, its own crime and justice code and Public Prosecutor.  It already possesses such normal State symbols as its own flag, anthem, motto and annual official holiday, Europe Day, 9 May, when it commemorates the 1950 Schumann Declaration proposing the European Coal and Steel Community as “the first step in the federation of Europe“, although these symbols are without a formal legal basis in the Treaties.

As regards the State authority of the new Union, this would be embodied in the Union’ s own executive, legislative and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice.  It would be embodied also in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with Union law. Member States would be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty. Thus EU “State authorities” as represented for example by EU soldiers and policemen patrolling our streets in EU uniforms, would not be needed as such.

Allowing for the special features of each case, all the classical Federal States which have been formed on the basis of power being surrendered by lower constituent states to a higher Federal authority have developed in a gradual way, just as has happened in the case of the European Union. The USA, 19th century Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia are the best-known examples. None of these came into the world as fully-fledged sovereign States. Indeed the EU has accumulated its powers much more rapidly than some of these Federations – in the short historical time-span of some fifty years.

However, the key difference between these classical Federations and the proposed new European Union is that the former, once their people had settled, share a common language, history, culture and national solidarity which gave them a democratic basis and made their State authority popularly legitimate and acceptable.

All stable and long-lasting States are founded on such communities, where people speak a common language and mutually identify with one another as one people – a  collective “We”. Because of this mutual identification and solidarity, minorities are willing freely to obey majority rule because they regard the majority as “their” majority. Likewise majorities are willing to respect minority rights because they attach to “their” minority.  That gives these  States a democratic basis.  In the European Union however there is no European people or “demos” of this kind.  The Treaty of Lisbon, like the EU Constitution before it,  is an attempt to construct a highly centralised European Federation artificially, from the top down, out of Europe’s many nations, peoples and States, without their free consent and knowledge  and in the interest of the Big States which would dominate its subsequent policy-making.

If there is to be a European Federation that is democratically acceptable and politically legitimate, the minimum constitutional requirement for it would be that its laws would be initiated and approved by the directly elected representatives of the people either in the European Parliament or the National Parliaments. Unfortunately, the Lisbon Treaty does not contain any such proposal.

Acknowledgements:   This document, which was originally presented as a submission to the National Forum on Europe, has been prepared by Anthony Coughlan, secretary, for the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre; Tel.:  01-8305792; Web-site: nationalplatform.org It has drawn on a number of different sources and the advice and assistance of a number of Irish and continental lawyers is acknowledged.  Particular thanks are due to Dr Klaus Heeger, legal adviser to the Independence and Democracy Group in the European Parliament, for insights into the constitutional character of a post-Lisbon European Union.

The document is an elaboration of Point 2 of our general document on the Lisbon Treaty: “What the Treaty of Lisbon Would Do”. People are free to use or adapt these documents as they see fit, without any need of reference to or acknowledgement of their source

Two Books:    The Lisbon Treaty – the Readable Version shows the deletions and additions which the Treaty would make in the two Consolidated EU Treaties – the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.  This invaluable Consolidated Edition may be downloaded from  euinfo.ie or  euabc.com It has been edited by former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde with the assistance of a team of legal advisers. It contains a detailed Index to the topics people may be interested in, showing how the Lisbon Treaty would affect them if it were to be ratified.   Jens-Peter Bonde, who was a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe which drew up the original EU Constitution of which Lisbon is a revamped version, has also written an illuminating short book analysing the Lisbon Treaty and giving the story of how it came into being: From EU Constitution to Lisbon Treaty. This is downloadable from the same web-sites:  euinfo.ie and  euabc.com

August 2008

Lisbon Treaty: “the proposals we dare not present directly”

“Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly … All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”
– Former French President V.Giscard D’Estaing, who helped to draw up the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums and which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty, Le Monde, 14 June 2007
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“France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments … There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.”
– French President Nicolas Sarkozy,at meeting of senior MEPs, EUobserver, 14 November 2007
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“The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through the old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, The Independent, London, 30 October 2007
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“They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
– Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, recorded by Open Europe, The Centre for European Reform, London, 12 July 2007
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“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire.”
Commission President J-M Barroso, The Brussels Journal, 11 July 2007
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“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.
– Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007
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“The good thing about not calling it a Constltution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.
– Giuliano Amato, speech at London School of Economics, 21 February 2007

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