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

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

*Lisbon Treaty: “there is a cleavage between people and governments”

(These quotations are in chronological order backwards)

“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… A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. 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

“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

‘ “I think it’s a bit upsetting… to see so many countries running away from giving their people an opportunity”, Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said on Sunday 21 October, according to the Irish Independent. ‘If you believe in something …why not let your people have a say in it. I think the Irish people should take the opportunity to show the rest of Europe that they believe in the cause, and perhaps others shouldn’t be so afraid of it,’ he added. “
– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, EU Observer, Brussels, 22 October 2007

“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

“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

“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.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, Le Monde, 14 June 2007, and Sunday Telegraph, 1 July 2007

” The most striklng change ( between the EU Constitution in its older and newer version ) is perhaps that in order to enable some governments to reassure their electorates that the changes will have no constitutional implications, the idea of a new and simpler treaty containing all the provisions governing the Union has now been dropped in favour of a huge series of individual amendments to two existing treaties. Virtual incomprehensibilty has thus replaced simplicity as the key approach to EU reform. As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.”
– Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Irish Taoiseach, Irish Times, 30 June 2007
“The substance of the constitution is preserved.That is a fact.”
– German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speech in the European Parliament, 27 June 2007

The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left.”
– Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, Jyllands-Posten, 25 June 2007

“The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term ‘constitution’ “.
– Dermot Ahern, Irish Foreign Minister, Daily Mail Ireland, 25 June 2007
“90 per cent of it is still there…These changes haven’t made any dramatic change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004.”
– Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Independent, 24 June 2007

“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

“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 Econmics, 21 February 2007


“Referendums make the process of approval of European treaties much more complicated and less predictable … I was in favour of a referendum as a prime minister, but it does make our lives with 27 member states in the EU much more difficult. If a referendum had to be held on the creation of the European Community or the introduction of the euro, do you think these would have passed?”
– Commission President Jose M. Barroso, Irish Times, 8 Feb.2007; quoting remarks in Het Financieele Dag and De Volkskrant, Holland; also quoted in EUobserver, 6 February 2007

” It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralisation of powers away from the Member States and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin … Against the fundamental principle of the separation of powers, the essential European legislative functions lie with the members of the executive … The figures stated by the German Ministry of Justice make it quite clear. By far the large majority of legislation valid in Germany is adopted by the German Government in the Council of Ministers, and not by the German Parliament … And so the question arises whether Germany can still be referred to unconditionally as a parliamentary democracy at all, because the separation of powers as a fundamental constituting principle of the constitutional order in Germany has been cancelled out for large sections of the legislation applying to this country … The proposed draft Constitution does not contain the possibility of restoring individual competencies to the national level as a centralisation brake. Instead, it counts on the same one-way street as before, heading towards ever greater centralisation … Most people have a fundamentally positive attitude to European integration. But at the same time, they have an ever increasing feeling that something is going wrong, that an untransparent, complex, intricate, mammoth institution has evolved, divorced from the factual problems and national traditions, grabbing ever greater competencies and areas of power; that the democratic control mechanisms are failing: in brief, that it cannot go on like this.”
– Former German President Roman Herzog and former president of the German Constitutional Court, article on the EU Constitution, Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007


“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go”, and if it’s a No we will say ‘We continue.’”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister and holder of the EU Presidency, Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2005

“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.”
– Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21 June 2004
“Are we all clear that we want to build something that can aspire to be a world power? In other words, not just a trading bloc but a political entity. Do we realise that our nation states, taken individually, would find it far more difficult to assert their existence and their identity on the world stage.”
– Commission President Romano Prodi, European Parliament, 13 February 2001

[07/07/2005] Bertie’s Papal Visit

Thursday 7 July 2005

******    BERTIE AHERN'S PAPAL VISIT TODAY   **********

The moves to have Bertie Ahern visit Pope Benedict in Rome today were
almost certainly initiated by the Department of Foreign Affairs before the
French vote on the EU Constitution five weeks ago, on 29 May.

Iveagh House, which decides these things, will have been acting on the
assumption of a French and Dutch Yes to the EU Constitution in their
referendums -  in  which case we would all now be readying ourselves for
an Irish referendum on the same Constitution in October.

Bertie's Papal visit will have been designed by the Department of Foreign
Affairs to polish his Catholic credentials in order to appeal to an
important section of voters in that expected Irish EU referendum.

Because of the French and Dutch votes however, the Iveagh House people will
now have had to draft a different article on "What I am going to tell the
Pope"  for the Taoiseach to put his name to in today's "Irish Times".

But Bertie Ahern's Rome visit should almost certainly be seen as  the
aborted remains of what was originally intended as a piece of cynical
referendum engineering.

As originally planned, the Taoiseach's Papal visit will also have been
designed to help get the Irish bishops "on side" for the EU Constitution
referendum then thought likely - just as their Lordships were led by the
noses to back the Treaty of Nice referendums in 2001 and 2003, even though
the  Irish bishops had never taken a partisan position on such secular
political matters in the EU referendums that were held in 1972(EEC
Accesssion), 1987(Single European Act),1992(Maastricht) and 1998(Amsterdam).

It is probable that the European Committee of the Irish Hierarchy, which is
staffed by Eurofanatics who led the Hierarchy as a whole into quite
shameful and counter-productive positions in support of deeper EU
integration in the Nice Treaty referendums, will have been consulted by
Iveagh House in concerting Bertie Ahern's Papal visit with a view to
helping out with Ireland's then expected EU Constitution referendum.


Anthony Coughlan


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


- Statement by Anthony Coughlan

24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9

Tel.: +00-353-1-8305792

Friday 27 May 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed: Anthony Coughlan
(01)830 57902

[26/05/2005] EU Constitution & Vaclav Klaus

EU Constitution:   Anthony Coughlan's lecture in Prague under the
chairmanship of  President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus ...Full text
of lecture below for your information:-


24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9


Thursday 26 May 2005

Below for your information is the text of the lecture on the proposed EU
Constitution that was given by Irish economist Anthony Coughlan in Prague
last week under the chairmanship of President of the Czech Republic Dr
Vaclav Klaus.

The lecture was sponsored by the Centre for Economics and Politics, Prague,
which was established by Dr Klaus some years ago when he was Czech Prime
Minister. The Centre recently published 14,000 copies of a booklet on the
EU Constitution by Anthony Coughlan, with a foreword by President Klaus.

The lecturer is secretary of the National Platform EU Research and
Information Centre, Ireland,and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy
at Trinity College Dublin

The lecture, which was given in the Czech Automobil Klub on Thursday
evening last, 19 May, was attended by a crowded audience which included
representatives of all the political parties in the Czech Republic, by  MPs
and MEPs, by several foreign ambassadors and by the Czech and German media.
It was followed by an hour and a quarter's question-and-answer session
which was moderated by Dr Klaus.

President Klaus, who had received the speaker in his office in Prague
Castle the day before, said in his concluding remarks that while he usually
had points of criticism or disagreement with speakers at Centre for
Economics and Politics seminars, on this occasion he was glad to say that
he found himself entirely "ad idem" with what Anthony Coughlan had said.

One new idea which Dr Klaus said he he had got from the Coughlan lecture
was the political cleverness of those pushing the EU State-building project
in recent decades. Thus the 1992 Maastricht "Treaty on European Union" had
introduced the name "European Union" and the notion of a kind of honorary
EU citizenship  to get everyone used to those terms. This meant that people
would not notice the difference, or think that anything much was happening,
when the constitutional-legal-political essence of  the European Union
itself and of EU citizenship was being changed fundamentally, as was now
proposed in the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe".

This constitutional revolution by stealth was being brought about by the
proposed Treaty-cum-Constitution, which aimed to establish what would be
constitutionally, legally and politically quite a new European Union in the
constitutional form of a supranational European Federation.

One can only be a citizen of a State, Dr Klaus said, and the new Treaty
would make us real citizens of this new EU State for the first time, and
would impose on everyone the normal obligations of citizenship, which would
be to obey this new EU's laws and give it our prime loyalty and allegiance.
The proposed constitutional Treaty would therefore be the real "Treaty OF
European Union", whereas the title of the 1992 Maastricht  Treaty was the
"Treaty ON European Union", for the latter did not set up a real Union in
any meaningful sense.

The present EU, unlike the proposed  post-Constitution EU, does not  have
the form of Statehood or even legal personality, and people are not
citizens of it in any real sense. That would all change however in the
post-Constitution European Union if this treaty should be ratified.  The
meaning of EU citizenship would be decisively altered by the proposed
Constitution, as people would in due time discover.

President Klaus went on to say that he thought it quite inappropriate that
politicians from other EU countries should be intervening in the French and
Dutch referendums in favour of the Yes side. This was against all the
traditional norms of democratic behaviour between States. Citizens of  a
country should be allowed to debate and determine these matters amongst
themselves and should not be hectored, cajoled or implicitly threatened
from outside.

The EU elite, the people who  liked to breakfast in Rome, have lunch in
Stockholm and go to bed the same night in Dublin, were desperate to get
this treaty ratified, for it would benefit them hugely, give them more
personal power and make them feel more important.  But trying to turn the
25 EU Member States into one supranational Federal EU State was not  in the
interests of the 450 million people of the present EU. It was not the kind
of Europe they wanted. They wished for and deserved  a different Europe.

President Klaus said that he had just learned that Czech Prime Minister
Jiri Paroubek had visited France to speak at  a Yes-side meeting the day
before, and the Prime Minister's photograph sporting a "Oui"  badge was
carried in the newspapers. He presumed that this gave himself a license to
say publicly that he hoped very much that France's voters would vote No in
their impending referendum for the sake of  France itself, of  a sensible
future for the European Union and to maintain democracy in all the EU
Member States.

N.B. President Vaclav Klaus refused to go to Rome last October to sign the
Treaty Establishing  a Constitution for Europe on behalf of the Czech
Republic,  something the Czech President normally would have done, as he
was fundamentally opposed to the Treaty. This caused the Social Democrat
Czech Government to send its Foreign Minister to sign the treaty instead.


Enquiries re the Centre for Economics and Politics, Czech Republic, may be
made to its Director, Dr Petr Mach, Politickych veznu 10, 110 00 Praha  1;
Tel: +420 /222 192 406 ; E-mail:<> ;

Enquiries to the Office of the President, Czech Republic, may be made to Mr
Jiri Brodsky, Political Department,119 08 Praha-Hrad; Tel.: +420/224 373

TEXT OF LECTURE ON THE EU CONSTITUTION by Irish economist Anthony Coughlan

-  10 smaller things and one Big Thing

"The EU Constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe."
-  German Minister for Europe Hans Martin Bury, Die Welt, 25-2-2005

"The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State."
-  Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21-6-2004

"Creating a single European State bound by one European Constitution is the
decisive task of our time."
-  German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Daily Telegraph, 27-12-1998

"It is only natural that the eastern part of the continent will become our
preoccupation for years to come, because Germans see this as a matter of
historical destiny. The most fundamental priority we have is trying to
integrate all of Europe. But for France the underlying issue is all about
coming to terms with its loss of influence in the world."
-   Dr Immo Stabreit, former German Ambassador to France, International
Herald Tribune, Sat.- Sun., 11-12 September 1999


The "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" consists of 448
Articles, 36 Protocols and 48 attached political Declarations. The most
important thing about it is that it is a Constitution as well as a Treaty.
The proposed Constitution would do many things, including:

treaties and transferring law-making powers in relation to them from
National Parliaments and citizens  to the EU Commission, Council of
Ministers, Court and Parliament. Over half of the national vetoes abolished
would be in new areas of  EU law-making. The rest would replace unanimity
by majority voting for making EU laws. These would cover civil and criminal
law, justice and policing; border controls, asylum and immigration;
implementation decisions in foreign policy; diplomatic and consular
protection; trade in  services; public health; energy; tourism; sport;
culture; intellectual property etc. The Constitution does not propose to
repatriate  a single power from the EU to its Member States, although that
was suggested as a possibility by the Laeken Declaration which established
the Convention that drafted the Constitution. (v.Part III)

would give the 25 judges of the EU Court the power to decide our personal
human and civil rights in    the wide range of policy areas covered by EU
law. This would mean a new tier of lawyers and judges between citizens and
those with final power to decide our rights.  There are wide differences in
human rights standards between EU countries that make a common standard
inappropriate in such areas (v. Part II of the Constitution, Arts.II-61 to

introduce a mainly population-based system for making EU laws, which means
there would be more of them. It would  increase the influence of big States
like Germany and France, who usually combine together, as well as populous
countries like  Romania, Turkey etc. when they join, in deciding the laws
that we would have to obey as citizens of the proposed new EU. (Art.I-25)

would create a permanent EU Political President by abolishing the present
six-monthly rotating EU presidency, as well as an EU Foreign Minister and
diplomatic corps, and an EU Public Prosecutor's Office.(Art.I-22; Art.I-28;

the number of EU Commissioners by one-third, so that individual Member
States would go unrepresented for five years out of every 15 on the body
that proposes all EU laws. (Art.I-26).

EU law-making in most areas to be shifted from unanimity to majority voting
by consensus amongst the 25 Presidents and Prime Ministers, without need of
further treaties  or referendums. (Arts. I-40.7 and I-55.4;
Arts.III-210.3; 234.2; 269.3; 274.4 and 422; and Arts. IV-444 and 445)

with a common EU foreign policy constitutionally mandatory, would replace
most of the treaty-making powers of the EU's Member States and pass these
to the new Union based on its own Constitution, and would significantly
militarize this new Union. (Arts.I.16; I-13.2; III-23; I-41)

make the adoption of the euro-currency constitutionally mandatory by
providing that "The currency of the Union shall be the euro"(Art.I-8), even
though 13 of the 25 EU Members still retain their national currencies, and
by including Protocol 12 on the Euro-Group, which is an integral part of
the proposed Treaty-cum-Constitution, agreed to by all 25 EU Member States,
and which lays down special arrangements for the eurozone countries
"pending the euro becoming the currency of all Member States of the Union".

ideological neo-liberalism into mandatory constitutional principles for 450
million people, implemented by an intrusive regulatory apparatus. This is
mingled with the corporatist economic traditions of Big State Germany and
France, which would have greater influence under the new population-based
voting system. A proper Constitution by contrast lays down rules for State
policy-making, but leaves the content of public policy to political debate
between parties of the Centre, Right and Left. Under the heading Economic
Policy, Art.III-178 of the Constitution provides: "The Member States and
the Union shall act in accordance with the principle of an open market
economy with free competition, favouring an efficient allocation of
resources." The Constitution would make mandatory for the indefinite future
the deflationary and monetarist economic policy of the European Central
Bank, which has contributed to the current high unemployment levels of the
core EU economies(Art.III-185). It would make "liberalisation"  of services
constitutionally mandatory(Art.III-147) and  would permit the EU to decide
the boundary between public and private services, which could imperil
publicly-provided health, education, transport and cultural services in the
Member States (Art.III-122).  These are properlymatters  for public policy
debate and contention, not for Constitutions.

10. EURATOM TO CONTINUE INDEFINITELY:  It would continue the European
Atomic Energy Community in being indefinitely. The obligations of the
Euratom Treaty, which favours nuclear power, would be made constitutionally
mandatory on all 25 EU Member States.

legally to abolish the European Union and European Community that we are
currently members of and establish in their place quite a new Union in the
constitutional form of a supranational European Federation - while still
using the same"EU" name and transferring existing European laws and
institutions into the new Union.

Giving this new EU the constitutional form of a State would, by corollary,
reduce the present EU Member States to the constitutional status of
provinces or regional states within a superior Federal EU. This new EU
would not yet have all the powers of a fully-fledged Federation.
Historically it takes time for these to develop. It could not yet impose
taxes or force its members to go to war  against their will. But apart from
these two, a post-Constitution Union would possess all the main features
and powers of a supranational Federal State, and the Constitution's
advocates are confident of obtaining these remaining powers in time.


The "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" would give what would
legally be quite a new EU the constitutional form of a supranational
European Federation and would make us real citizens of such a State for the
first time in five logical legal steps:-

1. ABOLISHING THE EXISTING EU AND EC:  Art.IV-437 would repeal all the
existing treaties and thereby abolish the present EU and EC: "This Treaty
establishing a Constitution for Europe shall repeal the treaty establishing
the European Community, the Treaty on European Union and Š the acts and
treaties which have supplemented and amended them."

replace the existing EU with what would be constitutionally, legally and
politically quite a new European Union: "Reflecting the will of the
citizens and States of Europe to build a common future, this  Constitution
establishes the European Union."  Clearly this would be a different Union
from the existing one. Simultaneously, Art.IV-438 of the Constitution would
transfer the existing Community laws and institutions from the present EU
to the new one.

3. GIVING THE NEW EU FEDERAL STATE POWERS: Art.I-6 would assert the primacy
of this new EU's Constitution and laws over the national Constitutions and
laws of its Member States: "The Constitution and law adopted by the
institutions of the Union in exercising competences conferred on it shall
have primacy over the law of the Member States."  In addition, Art.I-1 of
the Constitution  would give the new Union a coordinating federal  power
over all the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve the
objectives they have in common. These are set out in Art.I-3 and are about
as wide and all-encompassing as could be. Art.I-1 provides: "The Union
shall coordinate the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve
these objectives (i.e. the objectives they have in  common) and shall
exercise on a Community basis the competences they confer on it."
Convention Chairman Giscard d'Estaing has explained what exercising EU
powers "on a Community basis" means: "It wasn't worth creating a negative
commotion with the British. I rewrote my text with the word federal
replaced by communautaire (i.e.'on a Community basis') which means exactly
the same thing."

enable the new EU to speak with one voice, to conduct itself as a State in
the international community of States, sign treaties with other States,
have a President, Foreign Minister, Public Prosecutor etc., as well as its
own currency and State symbols, flag, anthem and annual public holiday,
just like other States. Art.I-7 provides: "The Union shall have legal
personality."  The EU's State symbols would be given a proper legal basis
for the first time by Art.I-8 of the Constitution.

Art. I-10 would then make us real citizens of this new EU Federation,
established by the previous four steps, which would  become our new legal
sovereign and ruler, and to which we would owe the prime duties of
citizenship, namely to obey its laws and give it our loyal allegiance:
"Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union Š
Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties
provided for in the Constitution."  This is real citizenship, not an
honorary or "pretend" EU citizenship as at present, for one can only be a
citizen of a State. The pre-Constitution EU does not have real citizens or
citizenship, for the present EU does not have the constitutional form of
Statehood. It does not even have its own legal personality.  The
post-Constitution EU  however would have both. The pretence that we are
already EU citizens in some vague honorary sense is  designed to mislead
people into thinking that the EU Constitution would make no real change to
their legal-political  status, whereas  it would change it fundamentally

The establishment of a supranational European Federation may be judged a
good or bad thing, realistic or misguided, but it would be ludicrous if the
educated, politically sophisticated peoples of Europe were to consent to
turn their countries into provinces or regions of such an entity, and
themselves into real citizens of it - not just honorary or "pretend"
citizens, as with the present EU - without their realising that this is
what they are being asked to do.

Supporters of the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" argue
that in the new EU it would establish, the Member States would still have
primacy of authority because it is they that would have conferred powers on
the Union, under the so-called "principle of conferral"(Art.I-11). They
ignore the fact that this is how the classical Federal States have
historically developed: by smaller political units coming together and
transferring powers to a superior.  The best example is 19th-century
Germany. Others are the USA, Canada, Australia.  Where else after all could
Brussels get its powers if not from its Member States, just as the Federal
States whose capitals were 19th century Berlin, or today's Washington,
Ottawa and Canberra did before it?  In the latter cases however the
political units that came together to form Federal States belonged wholly
or mainly to one nation or people, with a common language, culture and
history once their populations had settled.  That gave these States a
popular democratic basis, and with it a natural legitimacy and authority.
This contrasts with the EU's attempt to establish "a new country called
Europe" organised in an EU Federation, despite the real Europe consisting
of many nations and peoples who desire to make their own laws and elect
their own rulers. Member States would still retain their national
constitutions under the EU Constitution, but they would no longer be
constitutions of sovereign States but of provincial states, just as Texas,
California and New York still retain their own state constitutions within
the Federal USA.

Unfortunately, most of the political leaders of the 25 EU Governments take
a wholly uncritical view of the proposed EU Constitution, because the more
national powers are transferred to Brussels, THE MORE PPOWER ACCRUES TO
THEMSELVES PERSONALLY as they make supranational laws on the 25-member EU
Council of Ministers for 450 million people -  with 150 million more
expected to join them in due time.  Fundamentally, the EU is run by a small
number of top politicians and bureaucrats. The more powers are transferred
to Brussels, the more power these people obtain as individuals.  However
citizens lose thereby their power to decide their own laws in their elected
National Parliaments, their right to choose their own rulers and with that
their national democracy and independence. There is no European people or
"demos" that could confer democratic legitimacy and authority on such an EU
Federation. Which is why this proposed EU Constitution is fundamentally
misguided and why if it should come into force it could not possibly last.
That is why it is sensible  to reject it now.


There are some positive things in the proposed EU Constitution, although
their importance is much exaggerated by its supporters:

(a) It is proposed that the Council of Ministers should meet in public when
deliberating and voting on draft EU laws, although this would be likely to
be a formality for the TV cameras. The negotiating and bargaining leading
up to those laws, the activity of Brussels' 15,000 corporate lobbyists that
seek to influence EU law-makers, would all still take place in

(b) The Constitution would require National Parliaments to be formally
notified of new laws the Commission proposes. If one-third of the 25
Parliaments thought these laws went too far and violated the so-called
principle of subsidiarity, they could object. The Commission would then
have to review its proposal, but could still decide to go ahead with
it(Protocol 2). Supporters of the Constitution claim that this is a
significant new power for National Parliaments. Yet the provision is not
new, for the Parliaments can object already. It is not a power, for they
can object all they like and the Commission can go on ignoring them.  What
National Parliaments get in this provision of the Constitution is a new
right to be ignored. A proposal in the drafting Convention that if
two-thirds of national Parliaments objected, the law proposal would have to
be abandoned altogether, was dropped;

(c) One million EU citizens could petition the Commission to propose a new
EU law to the Council of Ministers in furtherance of the Constitution, but
neither the Commission nor Council need accede to any such

(d) The Constitution provides that a Member State could withdraw from the
new Union. Such a provision has featured in other Federal Constitutions.
For example it featured in Josef Stalin's 1936 Constitution for the USSR.
The procedure proposed in the EU Constitution would tend in practice to
discourage withdrawals(Art.I-60).

These are positive proposals, but they could all be introduced without
setting up a new EU in the constitutional form of a European Federation, as
described above, abolishing 70 further national vetoes, giving the EU Court
a wide-ranging competence over our basic human and civil rights, and
creating a much more centralised, undemocratic and militarized  European
Union than the EU that currently exists.


If the proposed Constitution is rejected, the present EU will continue on
the basis of the Nice Treaty.  That Treaty was "sold" to citizens across
Europe as being the EU enlargement treaty; whereas now the Constitution is
being sold again as necessary for the "efficient" running of the enlarged
EU.  The voting system agreed in Nice was drawn up with the enlarged EU of
25 or more States in mind and is closer to the notion of the Member States
as equal "partners" than the population-based scheme proposed in  the
Constitution.   The Convention on the Future of Europe which drafted the
Constitution failed to do the job it was mandated to do by the Laeken
Declaration that established it. Before it came together there was
absolutely no discussion in any of Europe's democratically elected National
Parliaments on the principle of whether the EU should have a Constitution
at all, on whether deeper EU integration was desirable, or on what kind of
future relations the peoples and Parliaments of Europe wanted with the EU
or between their States.  By rejecting the EU Constitution citizens can
force a proper debate on the kind of Europe they really want. They would
certainly prefer a more democratic and less centralised EU, with the
restoration of significant powers from Brussels to the Member States, as
mooted in the Laeken Declaration.



Press statement from The National Platform EU Research and Information
Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9;  Tel:01-8305792

Thursday 20 January 2005

Mr Charlie McCreevy has been appointed an EU Commissioner, yet he stated
last week that he intends to play an active part on behalf of the Yes
Campaign in the upcoming referendum on the "Treaty Establishing a
Constitution for Europe".

While Mr McCreevy, like any civil servant, will have a vote in the
referendum as an Irish citizen, is it really appropriate for him as a
supranational public official to campaign in such a fashion? Is it
compatible with a proper appreciation of his role as an EU Commissioner?

EU Commissioners take an oath to put the EU's interests before any national
interest when they take up their jobs. Whether Commissioners are Irish,
Italian or Danish does not mean they are there to work for Ireland, Italy
or Denmark. They may like to believe that expanding the EU's power and
functions is identical with their own country's interests, but it is not
necessarily so.

The EU Commission has no role in the ratification of EU treaties, which are
exclusively a matter for the Member States. Yet the Commission, which has
the exclusive right to propose European laws, is very much an interested
party.  It will gain a huge increase in its own powers at the expense of
national Parliaments, Member States and their citizens if the proposed EU
Constitution is ratified and a further 60 or so national vetoes are

As an EU Commissioner Mr McCreevy is paid a substantial salary for his
services in implementing the existing EC/EU treaties, but surely not to
campaign for ratifying new ones?  If Mr McCreevy can devote his time and
resources that should be spent on Commission business to political
campaigning in the Irish referendum, what is to stop other Commissioners
from doing the same thing?

If the principle of Commission interference of this kind is accepted as
regards Mr McCreevy or his colleagues, what is to prevent the Commission
using its huge financial and personnel resources to interfere in a
one-sided fashion in the Irish and other Member State referendums, against
the principles of constitutional fairness in referendums laid down by the
Supreme Court in the 1995 McKenna case, and quite possibly in violation of
European law as well?

In 1998 it took the threat of legal action by a local citizen, Mr Owen
Bennett, to prevent the European Commission Office in Dublin from
disseminating large amounts of  one-sided pamphlets in the Amsterdam Treaty
referendum under the guise of providing objective information on that
treaty. When the matter was referred to the Commission's Legal Services in
Brussels, they concluded that this action was legally inadvisable. The
Commission's resources, including the salaries of its officials, are
contributed to in part by Irish taxpayers. Those resources should not be
used to forward the ratification of a
Treaty-cum-Constitution that would hugely increase the Commission's powers
at the expense of Irish and other EU citizens who ultimately provide those
resources - a Treaty moreover that may never come into force if it is
rejected by one of the 25 EU Member States.

Irish voters should be permitted to make up their minds on the EU
Constitution without outside intervention of any kind from the EU
Commission or its Commissioners. Commissioner McCreevy should think again.


Anthony Coughlan

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