Lisbon Treaty News: Europe with us, Elites against

McCreevy: 95% of countries would probably have voted No in Lisbon Treaty referendums
Saturday’s Irish Times reported on EU Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy’s comments last week, in which he said, “When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway. On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been No as well.”

Saturday’s Irish Independent also reported that he said that Irish people should not be ashamed about how they voted, and quoted him saying “I’ve never been ashamed to stand up for the way we do our business here. We do it by referendum. That’s democracy.”

EurActiv quotes Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally saying that the Irish Commissioner’s “honesty” had “touched a nerve” and that his statement “probably reflects what most other EU leaders think themselves”.

Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing Irish Times Irish Independent EurActiv Economist: Charlemagne blog Telegraph Sunday Telegraph Irish Times 2
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Bruce Arnold: Ireland’s “legal guarantees are worthless”
Under the headline, “Government has abandoned democracy to get a ‘Yes’ vote”, Bruce Arnold argued in Saturday’s Irish Independent that Irish PM Brian Cowen was “abandoning democracy the day after the vote. He was then servile in courting European countries, telling them how sorry he was that the Irish people had insulted Europe and assuring them of changed times ahead. He then isolated a few marginal issues, none sufficient for the size of the huge vote, invented a survey of the “real” Irish view on Lisbon and claimed that amending doubts about neutrality, abortion and taxation would do the trick. No need, he said, to look further into the more serious and fundamental EU drawbacks.”

He continued, “The legal guarantees are worthless and do not change the treaty. However, they had the desired effect. A number of foolish and misguided public figures, respected for talk shows on television, selling groceries, writing poetry, went public and said they would vote ‘Yes’.”

In the Irish Independent, columnist Maurice Hayes writes “The clarifications [protocols] in this case are less an explanation of what is in the treaty, than an affirmation of what is not. More nuanced it may be, but the question remains the same — as does the treaty.”
Irish Independent: Arnold Irish Independent

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EU OBSERVER                                     29.6.09

Irish commissioner says EU Treaty would be rejected in most countries

HONOR MAHONY

Ireland’s EU commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, has said that the Lisbon Treaty would be rejected by most member states if put to a referendum (Irish Times,

With just a few months to go before his own country’s second referendum on the document, the plain-speaking former finance minister said 95 percent of the 27 member states would have said “no” to the new institutional rules if it had been put to a vote.

The commissioner, in charge of the internal market, reckons all leaders know this and it is only officials working in the EU institutions who have unrealistic expectations about the popularity of the treaty, designed to streamline how the EU functions and removing the unanimity requirement for decision-making in most policy areas.

“When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway,” he told the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland on Friday (26 June), reports the Irish Times.

“On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been ‘No’ as well.”

“I have always divided the reaction between those two forces: those within the beltway, the ‘fonctionnaires’, those who gasp with horror [on the one hand] and the heads of state, who are far more realistic. They are glad they didn’t have to put the question themselves to their people.”

Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum a year ago. In the run up to that vote, Mr McCreevy stole the headlines by saying he had not read the treaty from cover to cover and that no “sane” person had done so.

His admission prompted Irish journalists to ask other politicians about whether they had done their Lisbon homework, eventually exposing the fact that Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen had not read it either.

This time round, Irish voters, shaken by the devastating effects the economic crisis has had on the country, are thought more like to vote “Yes”. Recent polls have indicated a majority intend to give the green light to the document,
At a summit earlier in June, EU leaders agreed to a set of guarantees on the Lisbon Treaty designed to persuade voters to say “Yes”.

The treaty needs to be approved by all member states before going into force. Ratification has also not yet been completed in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, where the president of all three countries have to sign the document.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL     26.6.09
The EU’s Latest Power Grab

From today’s Wall Street Journal Europe

In some countries they rig votes, in the European Union they repeat votes to get the desired result.

After Ireland last year rejected the EU’s Lisbon Treaty — itself a rehashed carbon-copy of the EU Constitution that Dutch and French voters rebuffed in 2005 — the Irish are being asked to reconsider. There will be another referendum in early October, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Wednesday, and this time the Irish are expected to get it right. In Europe, they don’t take “no” for an answer.

Proponents say the Lisbon Treaty is key to reforming the squeaky institutions of the 27-member union. Skeptics, including a majority in Ireland, see a significant power grab. The Treaty gives the EU a nonelected president, a quasi foreign minister, a beefier defense and foreign policy and fewer national vetoes in a number of policy areas.

To justify a revote, EU leaders put on a big show at last week’s summit, giving the impression of tough negotiations in which Dublin supposedly won important concessions. The main prize Mr. Cowen took home is a protocol that claims to address Irish concerns, such as worries that the Treaty would allow the EU to meddle in Irish taxation, abortion issues, workers rights and neutrality.

Oh really? According to the EU summit’s own conclusions, the protocol “will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.” So the Irish will vote on the same text they previously rejected by a seven-percentage-point margin despite assurances by their government as recently as last month that this would not happen.

In the year since the last vote, the Irish economy has tanked, and a pro-Brussels vote this time is possible if only because many Irish worry that the EU may abandon them in their economic hour of need. It’s a fear the government knows how to exploit. A precondition for economic recovery, Mr. Cowen said Wednesday, is to “remove the doubt about where our country stands in relation to Europe.”

Just a couple of weeks ago the bien pensants in Brussels bemoaned the success of euroskeptics in European Parliamentary elections. This latest run-around on the Lisbon Treaty for the purpose of boosting the power of the EU at the expense of individual states is not the way to create more europhiles.

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24 June 2009

Gordon Brown: Irish ‘guarantees’ will “clarify not change” the Lisbon Treaty
Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron clashed in the Commons last night over the ‘clarifications’ given to Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty. PA notes that Brown insisted that the ‘guarantees’ given to Ireland would “clarify but not change” the Lisbon Treaty. Brown said that a new protocol would in no way alter the relationship between the EU and member states.  He said: “To be absolutely clear, the Heads of State or Government have declared: the Protocol will in no way alter the relationship between the EU and its Member States. The sole purpose of the Protocol will be to give full Treaty status to the clarifications set out in the Decision to meet the concerns of the Irish people. The Protocol will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon”.

Brown added, “They have received their clarifications. It will be set out in a protocol. It will come to all Houses of Parliament, at the next accession treaty, when that has to be confirmed by these Houses of Parliament.”

Cameron responded saying, “Why are Irish voters being forced to give their views twice when the British people haven’t been asked for their views once?”  He also criticised the method by which Ireland’s ‘guarantees’ are expected to become legally binding: “Will you explain why the protocols won’t be debated or put into place until the next countries join the EU. Isn’t it the case the Government wants to delay this until after the next election. They don’t want the embarrassment of having to vote yet again in the Commons to deny people the referendum they originally promised.”

When asked “do the guarantees have legal effect and if so how?”, Brown answered: “They will be deposited in the way that often happens at the United Nations and will have legal effect from the time that the Lisbon Treaty is in power.”

Meanwhile, writing in the Irish Times, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen sets out his reasons why Irish people should vote ‘Yes’ in the second referendum.  He claims that “accusations that the outcome of the summit was a pre-cooked charade are wrong and highly insulting to our EU partners.”  He says, “Many member states struggled with Irish reluctance to sign up to what they see as a necessary updating of the union’s rulebook. Some were alarmed at being asked to agree guarantees on issues not even mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty. Others, perfectly legitimately, did not wish to reopen their own democratic ratification processes.”

The paper notes that Cowen will name the exact date for the second Lisbon Treaty referendum when legislation to allow it take place goes through Ireland’s Dáil and Seanad in a fortnight’s time.
Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 Irish Times: Cowen Hansard Open Europe blog

German MEP threatens Ireland with “second class” status and “isolation” if it rejects the Lisbon Treaty again

The Parliament reports that senior German MEP Jo Leinen has warned that Ireland risks being relegated to a “second class” nation if it again rejects the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum scheduled for the autumn. Leinen said, “If there is a ‘No’ vote in Ireland I think we are likely to see a two-speed Europe emerge, with Ireland being in what might be called the ‘second class’.
The Parliament

European Commission wants database for all 500 million citizens, raising “big brother” concerns

The European Commission has proposed to set up a new agency to oversee all its large-scale IT systems, thereby bringing together management of three key systems – the Schengen Information System, Visa Information System and Eurodac – plus other related applications, into a single operational structure. Webwereld reports that human right groups have expressed fears for big brother implications, as this would mean that data on all 500 million European Union citizens and all illegal migrants would be merged into a database for “freedom and security”. The cost of the system would be ¤113 million in the first 3 years, and later ¤10 million per year following that.
Computing.co.uk Webwereld

Spain’s ¤2.7bn in EU fishing subsidies accused of exacerbating overfishing

According to the Guardian, Spain has received more than ¤2.7bn in subsidies in the last 12 years for fishing practices which exacerbate overfishing. Markus Knigge, Research Director for Pew Environment Group has said that “rather than encouraging sustainable fishing, subsidies have contributed to ever-greater capacity of fishing fleets and in turn to the depletion of valuable fish stocks”.

According to the paper, similar levels of subsidies exist in the current 2007-2013 budget period, with some of the biggest cash windfalls going to ships notorious for their questionable practices. Greenpeace named a Spanish trawler which has received more than ¤4m in subsidies as “the most egregious offender against vulnerable stocks of Mediterranean blue fin tuna”. A new website, “fishsubsidy.org” has been created to establish greater transparency about EU fishing subsidies.
EurActiv Guardian

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Mary Ellen Synon in Irish Daily Mail, 17 June, article entitled ‘The new Stasi’.

17 June 2009
The lives of … all of us
You know what they say about restaurants: there is no such thing as just one rat in the kitchen. It is the same here in Brussels. This week the Irish have finally seen the draft of assurances Brian Cowen’s government want from the other EU members before they make the Irish vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. The draft is a rat, but I’l deal with it later, after I’ve seen what is going to happen to the ‘assurances’ tomorrow and Friday at the European Council. Today I will deal with one of the other rats in Brussels, the Stockholm Programme.

It is unlikely you have ever heard of the Stockholm Programme. It has only just been published. However, a committee known as the Future Group, organised by the justice commission, started planning it in January 2007. The full name of the Future Group is ‘the Informal High Level Advisory Group of the Future of European Home Affairs Policy.’ The British had no representative on it, merely an ‘observer.’

The group’s findings have been bundled up as the Stockholm Programme. Here is how it works. The Lisbon Treaty gives new legal powers to the European institutions over, among other things, cross-border police co-operation, counter-terrorism, immigration, asylum and border controls. The Stockholm Programme outlines how the justice commission will implement these new legal powers for the next five years.

The commission claims the programme covers policy on ‘freedom, security and justice serving the citizen.’ Look closer and you will see it actually covers policy for restrictions on the citizen, surveillance by the European state — yes, your fingerprints, credit card charges, email traffic and health records are now going to be available from Galway to Bucharest — and the destruction of British judicial independence by the European institutions. Stockholm is a rat, and a big one.

If you don’t want to take it from a right-wing libertarian like me, you can take it from a whole pack of left-wing libertarians, the European Civil Liberties Network. The ECLN is made up of groups drawn from across Europe. One of the founders was Gareth Peirce, solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, and more lately for one of the prisoners at Guantanamo. Here is what the ECLN have to say about the Stockholm Programme: the policies outlined in Stockholm ‘constitute an attack on civil liberties and human rights.’ The warn against ‘dangerous authoritarian tendencies within the EU.’

They are right to do so. Under EU legislation, state agencies are already implementing comprehensive surveillance regimes and beginning to  build up what the ECLN calls a ‘previously unimaginably detailed profile of the private and political lives of their citizens.’ This is often done in the absence of any data protection standards, judicial or democratic controls.

‘The EU has gone much further than the USA in terms of the legislation it has adopted to place its citizens under surveillance. While the Patriot Act has achieved notoriety, the EU has quietly adopted legislation on the mandatory fingerprinting of all EU passport, visa and residence permit-holders and the mandatory retention — for general law enforcement purposes — of all telecommunications data (our telephone, e-mail and internet usage records).’

The Future Group and their Stockholm Programme say they foresee a ‘digital tsunami’ that will revolutionise law enforcement. Add this to the fact that, as the ECLN says, ‘EU data protection law has already been left behind, with surveillance all but exempted. Individual rights to privacy and freedoms are being fatally undermined.’

One of the most rat-like things about these new proposals is the plan to set up a ‘Homeland Security’ industry. Billions of euros may be given as subsidies to European corporations to help them compete with US industries in developing security equipment and technology. If you knew how many thousands of uncontrolled, unregistered corporate lobbyists there are in Brussels, you would recognise the hand of European technology corporations in the drafting of this programme. Brussels will give the military-industrial corporations billions in European taxpayers’ money, and in return the corporations will deliver technology that helps all the new European security forces track every one of us.

What is coming out of this will undoubtedly be an EU identity card and population register. Even Dick Cheney didn’t dare try that one. There will be the power of security forces (forget ‘cops,’ what you are going to be hearing more and more about are ‘security forces’) to search computer hard-drives. But the security forces won’t be coming through your door with a warrant. The searches will be ‘remote,’ online. This will be a particular threat to lawyers, journalists and any politicians opposing these growing EU powers. The policy of remote hard-drive searches was first proposed for the EU by the German government in June 2008. Yes, the German government want a euro-Stasi. It really is so satisfying when politicians live up to their national stereotype.

Statewatch, another organisation monitoring civil liberties in Europe, is also warning against the Stockholm Programme. In an analysis of the Future Group’s report by Tony Bunyan, he writes: ‘European government and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone — on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived “threats.”‘

‘There is an assumption, on this and wider issues in the EU, that “if it is technologically possible, why should it not be introduced?”‘

He notes that the EU’s Schengen Information System (SIS) is to be upgraded to hold more categories of data (including fingerprints and DNA), access to all the data is tobe extended to all agencies (police, immigration and customs).’ The commission has proposed a system to track the names of all passengers in and out of the EU, but some governments ‘do not like limiting the use of data to terrorism and organsied crime and want to extend the proposals’ scope from just in and out of the EU to travel between EU states and even within each state.’ They want to extend it to sea travel and car travel, too: all those specialised cameras developed for reading car registration plates make it possible.

Ah, but ordinary people will be told that if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. Ordinary people who believe that  will then never realise, as Mr Bunyan says, ‘why they did not get a job interview because their employer had access to a criminal record based on a “spent” conviction or why their application for an insurance policy failed because the company had access to their health record.’

The final agreement on all this is due to be adopted by heads of state and government at a meeting in Stockholm in December. Between now and then there is nothing any of us can do to stop it — except force David Cameron to give Britain a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, no matter how many other countries have already ratified the treaty. Remember, the legal powers to establish this new techno-surveillance are only delivered to Brussels by the Lisbon Treaty. So demand a referendum, then vote No: or your secret ballot on Lisbon may be the last secret left to you.

17 June 2009 10:52 AM
The lives of … all of us

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What the European Community is doing on our behalf.
Brussels, 4.6.2009  COM(2009) 255 final  2009/0073 (CNS)
Proposal for a
COUNCIL DECISION
on the signing, on behalf of the Community, of the Arrangement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, of the other part, on the modalities of the participation by those States in the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union
Proposal for a
COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion, on behalf of the Community, of the Arrangement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, of the other part, on the modalities of the participation by those States in the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0255:FIN:EN:PDF

McCreevy slams “hidden” tax plan – May 2007

Bernard Purcell
in Brussels.

Ireland’s EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy yesterday broke ranks with his Brussels colleagues and officials in an unprecedented outspoken attack on  their “long-term hidden agenda” for a common corporation tax base.

Mr McCreevy told a business lunch in Dublin  the proposal currently under consideration, and due to become Community law next year, is a “sinister” idea that “refuses to die”.

He attacked the way permanent officials in the Commission  sought to smuggle the proposal through by saying it would be “optional” when it was really “an unworkable charade” and  “underhand tactic to destroy tax competition in Europe”.

NOT WORKABLE

“Optionality is not workable and it is hard to believe the designers of the proposal don’t realise that,” he said

“The deliberately unworkable proposals (for a common consolidated tax base)  amount to a Trojan horse to enable the Commission take control of taxation”, Commissioner  Charlie McCreevy suggested. He said that it  was part of a “long-term hiden agenda”, a “sinister idea that refuses to die”
– Irish Independent, 12 May 2007

Individual member states – especially the smaller ones – would either no longer be able, or have the incentive, to manage effectively their public finances or direct foreign investment.

Ireland has the most competitive corporation tax rate of the EU-15, currently  at 12.5 pc. Some of the larger countries like France, Britain  and Germany have rates of 28 pc and higher.

He added that companies’ tax advisers  would go “regime shopping” between the 27 tax regimes and a 28th “common” base run by Brussels.

Inevitably there would be “leakage” from individual national exchequers leaing to complaints from countries, thus opening the door to “the permanent officials in DG Tax to say optionality should go”.

Another reason “optionality”  woud be pre-determined to fail is because as countries realised they would be writing fat cheques to other members of the “opted in” club, they would stay out, leaving a shrinking pool of states with clear “winners and losers”.

Even more sinister, said the Competition Commissioner, were plans to give the lion’s share of consolidated tax revenues to bigger countries like Germany and France at the expense of smaller natlons.

It was clear from 50 years of history  “and the reality of the institutional continuity of the Commission and its culture” that no matter how often certain proposals might be turned down, the officials sneak them out in different guises, he said.

“What is envisaged by those seeking to foist a CCCTB on Europe is quite different to what appears  on the label,” warned McCreevy. “It is important that Member States understand fully what is going on,” he said.

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“The deliberately unworkable proposals (for a common consolidated tax base in the EU)  amount to a Trojan horse to enable the Commission take control of taxation”, Commissioner  Charlie McCreevy suggested. He said that it  was part of a “long-term hidden agenda –  a sinister idea that refuses to die”

Even more sinister, said the Competition Commissioner, were plans to give the lion’s share of consolidated tax revenues to bigger countries like Germany and France at the expense of smaller natlons.

It was clear from 50 years of history  “and the reality of the institutional continuity of the Commission and its culture” that no matter how often certain proposals might be turned down, the officials sneak them out in different guises, he said.

“What is envisaged by those seeking to foist a CCCTB on Europe is quite different to what appears  on the label,” warned McCreevy. “It is important that Member States understand fully what is going on,” he said.

– Irish Independent, 12 May 2007

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An Open Letter to Stephen Collins (Political editor, The Irish Times)

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9

Tel.: 01-8305792
Web-site nationalplatform.org

Thursday 6 August 2008

Dear Stephen,
In your Irish Times article last Saturday you call on the Government to ratify the Lisbon Treaty regardless of the 12 June referendum result.

It is strange that a political correspondent of a major national newspaper should seek to become a partisan player in the political game in this way.

Stranger still that you should be urging such a profoundly unconstitutional and undemocratic course on our political leaders.

You are mistaken if you think that Ireland can ratify the Lisbon Treaty by Oireachtas vote without a referendum.

The Lisbon Treaty, which is the EU Constitution revamped,  establishes a constitutionally new European Union, with its own legal personality for the first time, which is legally different from the present European Union that was established by the Treaty of Maastricht and which is referred to in Article 29.4  of the Irish Constitution.

The first sentence of the  Constitutional Amendment which the people rejected on 12 June proposed to replace the present Maastricht-based EU by a future Federal-style Lisbon-based EU, of which we would all be made real rather than symbolical citizens for the first time.

The same name,  “European Union”,  would be used post-Lisbon as pre-Lisbon, but the constitutional and political character of the Union, its Member States and of us as Irish citizens would be transformed fundamentally by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

No Oireachtas vote is constitutionally capable of doing this.  With all due respect to you, it is irresponsible to be speading illusions otherwise.

The  Lisbon Treaty would also abolish the European Communities other than the Atomic Energy Community which we joined in 1973, and would  replace the Treaties on which they are based and  which are explicitly referred to in the Irish Constitution.  These references would have to be deleted also to enable the State to ratify Lisbon. No Oireachtas vote can do that either.

And there are several other reasons why the Constitution would have to  be amended to enable the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified.

Your article proposes an  attempt to get around the constitutional  requirement, laid down in the 1986-7 Crotty judgement of the Supreme Court, that surrenders of sovereignty to Brussels in European Treaties can only be done by the Irish people in a referendum, for they are the repositories of sovereignty.

I was myself intimately involved in the Crotty case and attended every day of the three hearings of the case: the original Injunction action before Judge Donal Barrington, the High Court stage which Raymond Crotty lost, and the Supreme Court stage which he won.

You may be interested to know that it was quite a close-run thing that Crotty did not win his court challenge to the constitutionality of the ratification procedure of the Single European Act on the ground that that Treaty’s central provisions entailed a transfer of sovereignty to Brussels, but on the narrower ground that the requirement to coordinate  foreign policy under “European Political Cooperation” entailed such a transfer.

The late Judge Henchy was the swing judge on this point in the five-man court.

Crotty’s lawyers were reliably informed at the time by sources close to the judges that Judge Henchy was anxious to find for Crotty, but that if he did so in relation to the core elements of the Single European Act which had previously been approved by Oireachtas vote, he would effectively have been finding the country’s President at the time, the late Patrick Hillery, as having failed to refer a constitutionally dubious Bill purporting to ratify the S.E.A. to the Supreme Court for assessment of its constitutionality.

Judge Henchy wanted to avoid embarrassing the President, so he approved the main provisions of the S.E.A. as having been covered by the original “license”  for Ireland to join a developing European Community, but he joined with the majority of the court in striking down the foreign policy provisions, which did not require Oireachtas approval, as being unconstitutional.

So the Crotty judgement was a highly political one amongst the five Supreme Court judges themselves!  These facts are not widely known, but I assure you they are correct.
It follows therefore that one cannot assume that the transfers of sovereignty entailed by the Lisbon Treaty would be similarly indulged by the present Supreme Court if the matter should come before it, as you implicitly propose in your article.

Judge Henchy moreover made quite clear in his own judgement in the Crotty case that if the then European Community were to move towards becoming a Political Union, a constitutional  referendum would be required here to permit that.  The European Union that would be established by the Lisbon Treaty –  which is the 2004 EU Constitution revamped –  is undoubtedly such a Political Union.

In your article you insult the No-side campaigners by saying that they were “unhampered by any allegiance to the truth”.

Truly this is the pot calling the kettle black!
I do not recollect you or your fellow Yes-side commentators alerting people during the referendum to the hugely important fact that the post-Lisbon EU would be constitutionally and politically profoundly different from the pre-Lisbon EU. . .

Or to the fact that we would be made real  citizens for the first time of this post-Lisbon EU, owing obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our citizens’ duty to the Irish Constitution and laws. . .

Or to the fact that in the post-Lisbon EU the Irish Government would lose the right it has at present to decide who its national Commissioner would be when we have a member on the Commission, and that this would be replaced by a right to make “suggestions” only for the incoming Commission President to decide –  so replacing the present bottom-up process for appointing the Brussels Commission by a top-down one post-Lisbon . . .
Or to the fact that Lisbon proposes to restore the death penalty in Europe for the EU as a corporate entity in time of war or imminent threat of war, by providing that the post-Lisbon EU would accede to Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which permits the use of the death penalty in such circumstances, rather than  to Protocol 13, which abolishes the death penalty at all times and which the individual Member States have separately acceded to.

This matter has caused national outrage in Austria and some controversy  in Germany, but scarcely anyone has heard about it here in Ireland.

But maybe you would dismiss that too as just another No-side “untruth”?

Yours etc.

Anthony Coughlan
Secretary

Irish Times: “Lisbon would turn Ireland into a province”

Irish Times  article, Friday 16 May
 
VOTE NO TO LISBON AND REJECT EUROPEAN FEDERAL STATE

Lisbon would  turn Ireland into a province or region of an EU superstate and make us citizens of it first rather than of the Irish Republic
 
by Anthony Coughlan
 
The push to turn the European Union into a superpower with many of the features of a Federal State goes back to World War 2, when the continental imperial powers, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium, experienced the trauma of defeat and occupation.  After 1945 they found themselves much diminished in a world dominated by the USA and USSR.
One response of their political elites was to decide that if they could no longer be Big Powers individually on their own, they would seek to be a Big Power collectively. This is not the full story of European integration, but it is perhaps the most important part of the story. 

The Lisbon Treaty is the constitutional culmination of the federalist project which has been the political dynamic of European integration ever since the Schumann Declaration of 1950 proclaimed the European Coal and Steel Community to be “the first step in the federation of Europe”.

The EU commemorates that Declaration on  9 May each year – Europe Day.  Fifty years later, in 2004, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt proclaimed the EU Constitution to be “the capstone of a European Federal State”.
When the French and Dutch rejected the EU Constitution in their 2005 referendums, the Prime Ministers and Presidents decided to give the EU the constitutional form of a Federation indirectly rather than directly.

This the Lisbon Treaty does by amending the two existing European Treaties instead of replacing them entirely  by a formally titled Constitution. But the legal-political effect is the same.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WE WILL VOTE ON 

The first sentence of the Amendment which the Government is asking  to insert into the Irish  Constitution provides that the State may ratify the Treaty of Lisbon and “may be a member of the European Union established by virtue of that  [Lisbon] Treaty.”  

This sentence shows that the European Union which would be established by the Lisbon Treaty, although having the same name, is constitutionally and politically a different Union from that which we are currently members of, which was established by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty.

The second sentence of the Constitutional Amendment would then give the constitution of this post-Lisbon Union supremacy over the Irish Constitution:


“No provision of this  [Irish] Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by membership of the European Union referred to Š or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said European Union or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State.”
This post-Lisbon EU would have the constitutional form of a supranational European Federation – in effect a State – in which Ireland and the other Member States would have the constitutional status of provincial or regional states.

From the inside the Union would look like something based on Treaties between States. From the outside it would look  like a State itself.  This constitutional revolution in both the Union ands its Member States would be brought about by four legal steps which are set out in the Treaty, as they were in the previous EU Constitution:

Firstly, Lisbon would give the post-Lisbon Union full legal personality separate from and superior to its Member States, so that it could act as a State in the international community of States, sign Treaties with other States in all areas of its powers, have its own political President, Foreign Minister(High Representative), diplomatic service, embassies and Public Prosecutor, and make most of our laws.

Secondly, Lisbon would abolish the European Community which we joined in 1973 and which still exists as part of the present EU, and replace it by the new Union (Art.1 TEU). 


Thirdly, it would give the new Union a unified constitutional stucture so that all areas of government would come within its aegis either actually or potentially(Art.4 TEU, Arts.1-6 TFEU).  The only major feature of a fully developed Federation which the EU would then lack would be the power to force its Member States to go to war against their will.

SUBORDINATING THE IRISH CONSTITUTION TO THE EU CONSTITUTION   

Finally, Lisbon would make us all real citizens for the first time of this post-Lisbon Union, rather than our being notional or honorary EU “citizens” as at present(Art.9 TEU).

One can only be a citizen of a State and all States must have citizens. As real EU citizens we would owe it the duty of obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our obedience and loyalty to Ireland and the Irish Constitution and laws.
We would still retain our national Irish citizenship, but our new dual citizenship post-Lisbon would not be citizenship of two different States, but rather of the federal and regional/provincial levels of one state, as is normal in such classical Federations as the USA, Federal Germany, Switzerland and Canada. 

The Irish Constitution would remain – just as the various states of the Federal USA still retain their constitutions –  but it would be subordinate to the EU Constitution in any case of conflict between the two. 

One indicator of the constitutional change which Lisbon would bring about is that Members of the European Parliament, who under the present Treaties are “representatives of the peoples  of the Member States brought together in the Community”, would become “representatives ofthe Union’s citizens in the post-Lisbon EU(Art.14.2 TEU).  

Another is that the European Council, the summit meetings of Prime Ministers and Presidents, would become an EU institution for the first time, legally bound to forward the interests of the Union, not of the national Governments or electorates concerned, so that its acts or its failing to act would be subject to judicial review by the EU Court of Justice(Art.13 TEU).

Couple these constitutional changes with the power-political changes which Lisbon would bring about and it is clear that the Lisbon referendum confronts the Irish people with a momentous choice.

The most important power-political change is that Lisbon would base law-making in the post-Lisbon Union primarily on population size.

 This would double Germany’s relative voting strength on the Council of Ministers from its present 8% to 17%. It would increase the voting weight of France, Britain and Italy from their present 8% to 12% each and it would halve Ireland’s weight from 2% to 0.8%.(Art.16.4 TEU)
As well as our being deprived of a voice on the EU Commission, the body which proposes all EU laws, for five years out of every 15, a little noticed feature of Lisbon’s provisions is that when it comes to our turn to have an Irish Commissioner, we would  lose the right to decide who he or she would be. Henceforth Ireland would be able to make “suggestions” only, for the new Commission President to decide(Art.17.7 TEU). 
It is surely a major historical moment by any standard: this attempt to turn four million Irish people and nearly 500 million Europeans into real citizens of a real EU Federation, without most of them being aware of it, and without any but us Irish being allowed to have a direct say on it.  

If Lisbon is ratified it is bound to lead to major democratic reactions across Europe when people discover that their national independence and democracy have been filched from them. That is why the best course for the Irish people is to vote No to Lisbon on 12 June, as the French and Dutch did to its virtually identical predecessor, for their own sakes and for Europe’s.
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Anthony Coughlan is secretary of the National Platform EU  Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin  9;  Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792;   Web-site: nationalplatform.org

Barroso, Bonde and Ireland’s company Taxes

Monday 28 April 2008


Barroso, Bonde and  Ireland’s company Taxes . . . Excerpt from “Bonde’s Briefing” by Jens-Peter Bonde MEP, Chairman, Independence and Democracy Group in the European Parliament, forwarded for your information

Misinformation in Ireland

I was in Ireland this weekend (18 April). Accidentally I met the Commission President José Manuel Barroso at the University of Cork. I had two other meetings. He made a splendid speech, particularly when he went outside his manuscript.

It became clear to me that his civil servants had agreed a part of his speech with the Irish Government representatives to mislead Irish citizens about a hot issue in the Irish debate: their low corporate tax at only 12.5 %.

Mislead is a strong – but very precise – expression. Barroso said there was nothing new in the Lisabon Treaty about taxes.

This is positively wrong. The new Art.113 TFEU(Treaty on the Functioning of the EU)  about taxes adds a new phrase of “and to avoid distortion of competition” as an amendment to the Article.  This is a clear invitation to the European Court of Justice to outlaw the very distorting low Irish rate.

Today the EU is only competent to harmonise tax laws under Article 113 if it is “necessary to ensure the establishment of the internal market”.  With this Lisbon Treaty amendment the EU can also harmonise  tax laws if competition is distorted – this is a much wider concept. When is competition not distorted by differences?

In a new special Protocol to the Lisbon Treaty, “Protocol on the Internal Market and Competition” (No. 4),  it is also added that the Internal Market “includes a system ensuring that competition is not distorted”. National hindrances can be outlawed, even by legislation based on the so-called “Flexibility clause” referred to in this Protocol.

In Art.116 TFEU distortions of competition can be hindered by laws decided by qualified majority voting in the Council. First, the Commission consults the distorting Member State.  Article 116 then provides: “If such consultation does not result in an agreement eliminating the distortion in question, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall issue the necessary directives. Any  other appropriate measures provided for in the Treaties may be adopted.”

In the Reader-Friendly Edition of the Consolidated Treaties which I have edited (see euabc.com )  the text in bold is the new addition to Article 113 on  corporation taxes made by the Lisbon Treaty: “and to avoid distortion of competition”. Hindrances  may be eliminated by majority voting.

So, if I was Irish and interested in the low corporate tax – which I am not – I would propose a strong Protocol to protect the low rate. It is not difficult to foresee an attack from another country – or company. The French Presidency has already signalled its plans for taxation before they enter into office 1 July.

The Irish Government has criticized the French intentions. Well, the  tax issue is also included in the annual work program for Barroso’s European Commission for 2008!


“Work will also be continued in order to allow companies to choose an EU-wide tax base as set out in the 2008 Annual Policy Strategy. An impact assessment has been launched to examine the options and their implications”, it is said at page 7 of the Work Programme.

The Commission will only publish their proposal – after the Irish referendum. All controversial proposals are delayed before referendums. This is normal practice for the Commission. It is only un-normal that the method has been leaked to the press with the publication of a private e-mail from a British diplomat referring  to information received from the Irish Government in confidence.

The Commission is working on a proposal to harmonise – maybe not the rate, but the base for calculating corporate taxes. The economic effect for Ireland may be the same.

Ireland has earned a lot on multinational companies settling in Ireland but selling products to the whole of the EU. Now, the Commission proposal – according to rumours – will distribute profit for taxation according to the spread of the turnover.

It does not sound surprising – or unjust – to me. This is the way the Commission is thinking – in spite of the Barroso speech to calm the Irish voters before their referendum scheduled for 12 June.

A joint rate will require unanimity, yes. But to outlaw the low rate in a Court verdict only requires a simple majority in the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It is mis-leading not to tell the Irish the full truth about the Lisbon Treaty and taxation.

Even new direct taxes for the Union could be introduced by the Lisbon Treaty.  See Art. 311 TFEU on the establishment of new Union “own resources” by unanimity among Member States.

“…it may establish new categories of own resources”, it is said in the new Art. 311 inserted by Lisbon.

It is also said stated: “The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies”.
< http://www.bonde.com/index.php/bonde_UK/article/bondes_briefing_23042008 >

A Note on Jens-Peter Bonde MEP

The author of the above statement, Jens-Peter Bonde, Danish MEP, has just edited  a “Reader-Friendly Edition of the Consolidated Treaties as Amended by the Treaty  of Lisbon“. This shows the additions to the two main EU Treaties that would  be made by Lisbon in bold type,  and the deletions in strikethrough.

This volume contains an invaluable index which will enable anyone interested in a particular topic to find easily the Consolidated Treaty Articles relating to it and to see how these would be affected by any deletions or additions made by the Lisbon Treaty.

This Reader-Friendly Edition of the Lisbon Treaty is now  downloadable free from  bonde.com.

Bonde has also written a short 100-page book describing the background to the Treaty  and giving a general analysis of it: “From EU Constitution to Lisbon Treaty”. This will be downloadable later this week from  the web-sites:  bonde.com and euinfo.ie

Jens-Peter Bonde was a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe which drew up the original  EU Constitution that  would now be brought into being indirectly rather than directly  by means of  the Lisbon Treaty.  He has been an MEP since the first direct elections to the European Parliament  in 1979 and  he is retiring  from the Parliament on 9 May, Europe Day, having recently reached his 60th birthday. He first came to Ireland in 1986 to express support for  the late Raymond Crotty in his constitutional action on the Single European Act, which led to the current referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. He is chairman of the Independence and Democracy Group in the European Parliament to which Munster MEP Kathy Sinnott  belongs.  He has written some 40 books on EU-related topics over the years and  is widely known and respected for his tireless work over decades for a more transparent, less centralised and  more democratic European Union.  Together with Ireland’s John Gormley and others he produced a minority report on an Alternative to the EU Constitution at the close of Giscard d’Estaing’s Convention on the Future of Europe in 2004.
For enquiries contact Anthony Coughlan at 01-8305792.

Jens-Peter Bonde himself may be contacted  at the European Parliament at 00-32-2-2845167 and at Jens-Peter.bonde@europarl.europa.eu


The Lisbon Memo / Insider Email: A Campaign Based On Proven Dishonesty

THE LEAKED BRITISH E-MAIL ON THE IRISH GOVERNMENT’S REFERENDUM STRATEGY

From last Monday’s IRISH DAILY MAIL

(Front page report on Monday 14 April 2008 + Editorial on page 14)

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THE TREATY CON by John Lee and Michael Lea

The Government has hatched an elaborate plan to deceive voters over the forthcoming EU treaty referendum, the Irish Daily Mail can today reveal. A leaked email shows that ministers are planning a deliberate campaign of misinformation to ensure that the Lisbon Treaty vote is passed when it is put to the public as required by the Constitution

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern has even been personally assured that the European Commission will “tone down or delay” any announcements from Brussels “that might be unhelpful”. Alarmingly, the email says that ministers ruled out an October referendum, which would have been better procedurally, because they feared “unhelpful developments during the French presidency – particularly related to EU defence”.

This suggestion will raise grave fears that the State’s constitutional commitment to military neutrality could be undermined by the treaty – a rehashed version of the failed EU constitution.

The memo was sent to the British government by Elizabeth Green, a senior UK diplomat in Dublin, following a briefing from Dan Mulhall, a top official in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Its aim was to relay to her political masters in London the lengths to which the Government here was going to in its bid to ensure a “Yes” vote in the referendum.

Ireland is the only EU state which is allowing voters a say on the treaty, and European heads of state are terrified that they will reject it. Campaigners have warned that the new treaty could remove Ireland’s powers to decide its own tax rates and social policies.

However, the most controversial aspect is the likelihood that it will be used to advance the concept of a “European army” which would violate the principle of neutrality that has long been a foundation-stone of the State. France is particularly keen to advance the notion of an EU force, which critics fear could be ordered into action over Irish objections by a majority vote of EU heads of state.

Already concerns have been raised that soldiers who are part of the Irish peacekeeping force being sent to Chad could be compromised by French political and military objectives in the area. The leaked email admits that this is one of the issues which needs to be kept from voters, saying that the possibility of the French speaking out on this issue meant that the referendum could not be delayed until the autumn.

It states: “Mulhall said a date in October would have been easier from a procedural point of view. “But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French presidency – particularly related to EU defence – were just too great. (Nicola) Sarkozy was completely unpredictable.”

The Irish official was also worried that the latest World Trade Organisation talks, which have already aroused the fury of farmers, could turn the voters against the new treaty. Farmers and suppliers are planning a one-day shut down this week to protest at the tack being taken by EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson. The email said that Mulhall was concerned about “a WTO deal based on agricultural concessions that could lead the powerful farming association to withdraw its support”.

However, Government ministers appear to be basing their hopes on the fact that the treaty cannot be read or understood by most voters – and that launching a quick referendum would stop them from doing so. “Most people would not have time to study the text and would go with the politicians they trusted,” it said. And it pointed out that the Government plans to keep people from analysing the details, saying the “aim is to focus the campaign on overall benefits of the EU rather than the treaty itself”.

It goes on to explain the details of the Referendum Bill, which it says, was “agreed following lengthy consultation with Government lawyers and with the political parties”. However, it admits that the bill is “largely incomprehensible to the lay reader”.

The memo refers to plans to fool campaingers over the date and states: “Irish have picked 29 May for voting but will delay an announcement to keep the No camp guessing. “The Taoiseach and (Dermot) Ahern saw a slight advantage in keeping the No camp guessing.” It has since been stated that the referendum will be held on June 12 – although it is not clear from the email whether this is the correct date or whether the May 29 option is still being considered as a possibility in order to destabilise the “No”campaign.

The email adds that the EC was doing its best to keep any bad news from the Irish voters and that Mr Mulhall had maintained that other partners – including the commission – were playing a helpful low-profile role.

It added that during a trip to Dublin, Vice-President Margot Wallstrom “had told Dermot Ahern that the commission was willing to tone down or delay messages that might be unhelpful:.

The leaked message also points out that most Irish media have been supine on the issue, saying “Mulhall remarked that the media had been relatively quiet on the ratification process so far. We would need to remain in close touch, given the media crossover”

A Government spokesman refused to comment on the leaked email last night- merely saying: “The date is as set by the Taoiseach, there is no change in that.”

__________

Editorial Comment (page 14)

LISBON CAMPAIGN IS ANOTHER BITTER BETRAYAL

Whether the Lisbon Treaty is accepted by the Irish public or not, one thing is clear – the Government campaign in its favour is already one of the most deeply dishonest in Irish history.

The revelation that the Government has conspired with foreign politicians to deceive its own electorate speaks of profound betrayal. For months, ministers have been calling for a fair campaign based on the facts of the treaty itself. Now we know that all the while the very same ministers have been collluding in a campaign of deliberate misinformation.

That the Irish people should be the victims of a dishonest alliance between their own government and outside powers is something many will find very hard to forgive quickly.

As for the Lisbon Treaty itself, voters will now find it very difficult to trust a single word the Govenrment says in its defence. At each stage, the aim has not been to inform the electorate but to deceive it. Instead of scheduling polling day for October,which would allow the country to come to grips with the treaty’s byzantine complexity, the Government has specifically chosen a date to capitalise on the artificial uncertainty this premature vote creates. Even the precise timing has been cynically manipulated to catch the other side off-guard.

This is not just poor form; it is a thoroughly undemocratic way to conduct what is supposed to be a free and fair vote. These low tricks are not just a case of using dark arts for narrow tactical advantage, they are deliberate lies about crucial matters of the Irish national interest.

One reason there is so much understable uncertainty in the electorate over the Lisbon Treaty is that it might mean we lose control over our military commitments and that our low corporate tax rate might be abolished by Brussels.

Now we know that on both counts the Government’s conspiracy has specifically sought to conceal the truth. We are voting earlier than would ordinarily be expected so that voters will not have a chance to see new defence developments in the EU that officials expect from the French EU presidency later this year.

Opinion divides on the merits and demerits of Irish neutrality, but that question should be decided by Irish voters, not slipped through on false premises. Today’s revelations also prove that neither our Government nor the French Government can be trusted when they say that well-known plans to introduce tax harmonisation have been sidelined.

This all amounts to a shocking culture of lying in the highest echelons of Irish politics. Deliberate lying about vital matters of Irish national interest should be unreservedly condemned by those in favour of Lisbon as much as by those against. The political culture in which this is possible is the proof, also, of just how corrosive the departing Taoiseach’s lying has been for public life.

Many people have not yet reached an opinion about the Lisbon Treaty. That decision must be taken on the full facts and not on a shimmering mirage of dishonesty. Nor should we be afraid to consider our relationship with the EU anew. We have been well served by EU membership in the past. We are under no obligation, though, to vote blindly for whatever is put before us simply for that reason.

If there is a case for the Lisbon Treaty on the merits of the actual document, the Government should make it – and should be able to make it easily and persuasively. That they have not will lead many to wonder why a campaign based on proven dishonesty should be given the benefit of the doubt when such crucial issues are at stake.

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