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There is still a little time left for Ireland to foil this power grab by the Eurozone elite

“Ireland entered the euro in 1999 and lost control of the two vital monetary instruments: setting interest rates and setting currency exchange rates. Had Ireland remained outside the euro, its bankers would not have gained access to the euro zone’s vast and low interest borrowing opportunities. Without the outlandish credit available within the euro zone, the building bubble, the resultant government tax windfalls and Ahern’s, McCreevy’s and Cowen’s spending splurge would have been impossible. The country would not now be in receivership . . . For Ireland there has not been a shared and equitable European solution. The banks, mainly German, which lent rashly, are receiving a 100 per cent bailout. Not from those who borrowed, but from the Irish tax payer. Apart altogether from the unfairness of the imposed solution, it will not work, because it cannot.”
– Professor Edward Walsh, founding President, University of Limerick, Beal na mBlath oration, Irish Times, 22-8-2011

We need a public enquiry into the sheer civic irresponsibility and governmental incompetence of the politicians and senior bureaucrats who pushed the Irish State into the Euro area in 1999:

  • an area whose one-size-fits-all interest rate policy was set to suit Germany and France and had the effect of turning the “Celtic Tiger” boom into a bubble;
  • an area with which we did little more than one-third of our foreign trade, so that the subsequent falls in the dollar and sterling exchange rates have greatly added to our economic uncompetitiveness;
  • an area whose banking policy is decided by the European Central Bank, which told Messrs Cowen and Lenihan at the time of the blanket bank guarantee in September 2008 that no Irish bank must be let fail, so that the €30 billion debts of insolvent Anglo-Irish would be imposed on Irish taxpayers and the German, British and French banks which had recklessly lent to Anglo and the other Irish banks to stoke our property bubble would get their money back.

British Chancellor George Osborne stated in early August that the Eurozone should move towards a fiscal union, with supranational control on budgets, taxes and public spending in order to shore up the euro-currency, but that the UK would not be joining that.

This marks an important change in UK Government policy, which has sought since 1961 to be at the heart of the EU, sharing basic EU policy-making with Germany and France.

If the Irish State goes along with moves towards a Eurozone fiscal union, while the North stays with sterling in the UK, it must profoundly deepen the political-economic gulf between North and South in Ireland.

The Coalition Government in Dublin is now preparing to ratify the European Stability Mechanism Treaty for the Eurozone which Finance Minister Michael Noonan signed on 11 July, as well as the Article 136 TFEU amendment to the EU Treaties which permits that, without a constitutional referendum.

The ESM Treaty commits Ireland “irreversibly and unconditionally” to contributing €11 billion in various forms of capital to the ESM Fund from 2013, with provision for regular capital increases thereafter.

This mechanism is seen by Germany and France as the way to establish a two-tier EU, with themselves effectively running an inner-core Eurozone, and the Irish State, if it remains with the Euro-currency, effectively reduced to being a permanent financial fiefdom of Germany and its allies.

This ESM Treaty is the first use of the “self-amending” Article 48.6 TEU of the EU Treaties which was inserted by the Treaty of Lisbon.

It is seen by the Fine Gael-Labour Government, as well as by its Fianna Fail predecessor, as a way round the restrictions on ratifying new EU Treaties without constitutional referendums here which were laid down by the Supreme Court in its 1987 Crotty judgement.

There is still a little time left for Ireland to foil this power grab by the Eurozone elite if our political leaders can summon the courage to serve the Irish people rather than themselves.

– Anthony Coughlan, Director, The National Platform for EU Research & Information. First published on Indymedia.ie

Lisbon’s Constitutional Revolution by Stealth

EUROFACTS … 30 November 2009


The Lisbon Treaty, which has 99% the same legal effect as the EU Constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005, comes into force on tomorrow, 1 December.

The European Union Act 2009 was published at the end of October. This Act implements the second Lisbon Treaty referendum result by amending the European Communities Act 1972 which has made European law applicable in the State up to now. The new Act makes the laws, acts and measures of the European Union “established by virtue of the Lisbon Treaty” part of the domestic law of the State.

This is a constitutionally different European Union from what we call the European Union at present, which was established by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, although its name is the same. This post-Lisbon EU replaces the European Community which Ireland joined in 1973 and which made supranational  European laws up to now, and takes over all its powers and institutions. From Tuesday therefore we will all be endowed with an additional citizenship to our Irish citizenship – a real EU citizenship with associated rights and duties, something quite different in its implications to the purely notional or symbolical EU citizenship that we are assumed  to have possessed up to now.

The article below explains the constitutional revolution in the EU and its Member States which has been brought about by the Lisbon Treaty and which will formally culminate on Tuesday.  This is something that scarcely figured in what passed for “debate” on the Lisbon Treaty in our Lisbon Two referendum. The  statutory Referendum Commission completely failed to explain the constitutional significance of Lisbon to Irish citizen-voters, even though that was its prime duty under the  Referendum Act establishing it – something the Government and Yes-side interests must be very grateful for.


The People’s Movement, whose chairman is former MEP Patricia McKenna, will protest against the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the undemocratic manner in which it was pushed through, in Ireland and across the EU,  for half an hour outside Dail Eireann in Kildare Street from 1 to 1.30 p.m. today,  Tuesday.    Interested people are invited to come along with appropriate posters, slogans etc.


Baroness Catherine Ashton is the new EU “Foreign Minister” under the Lisbon Treaty – properly titled “The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”.  The Irish media have so far been remarkably reluctant to give this lady her proper title. The Irish Times refers to her as “Ms Ashton”.  Is it not curious, this reluctance to give a member of the House of Lords, which the Baroness remains, her proper designation?

Baroness Ashton will receive an annual salary of  €350,000 and have a chauffeured car, a housing allowance and a staff of 20. She will have control of the new EU External Action Service, starting with 5000 staff already engaged  on “external relations”, based on EU delegations in 130 countries – and the service is expected to grow rapidly.  Current EU foreign policy boss Javier Solana  has said the service would become “the biggest diplomatic service in the world”. It is estimated to cost some ¤50 billion between now and 2013.

This EU foreign service is not open to democratic scrutiny, is likely to develop a life of its own and come to undermine the foreign policies of EU Member States.

The Sunday Times has noted that staff in overseas EU offices typically work a 4-day week, are entitled to first-class travel to and from their posting, as well as private health insurance and an allowance of up to £1,700 a month to spend on school fees.


Agence France Presse reports that in a question-time session in the European Parliamen a week ago, European Commission President Jose Barroso said he would look at the idea of raising direct EU taxation.  Asked if he agreed with Herman Van Rompuy, the new EU President, that there should be EU taxes, he said: “I intend to look at all issues of taxation in the EU. We have to look at this, we have to look at all resources of the EU.  We have promised it to the Parliament, the programme with which I was elected was to look at possible ‘own resources’ and this is in the programme that was adopted by this European Parliament.”


Herman Van Rompuy, 62,  has said that he favoured the Lisbon Treaty as long as it promoted the aim of “more Europe”. He helped to draw up a strongly Euro-federalist manifesto for his Flemish Christian Democrat Party, calling for more EU power. It said: “Apart from the euro, other national symbols need to be replaced by European symbols – licence plates, identity cards, presence of more EU flags, one-time EU sports events.”

Speaking  a fortnight ago at a private dinner organised by EU-federalist members of the Bilderberg Group  at the Chateau de Val-Duchesse, where the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome was negotiated in 1957, Mr Van Rompuy backed plans for “green taxes” to fund the EU. He said: “The possibilities of financial levies at European level must be seriously examined, and for the first time large countries in the Union are open to that.”

Article 311 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which governs the means of raising money to finance the EU,  provides under an amendment made by the Lisbon Treaty that the EU Council of Ministers “may establish new categories of own resources or abolish an existing category”,  and the new EU President was referring to that.

Pieter Van Cleppe, of the think-tank Open Europe, commented: “Van Rompuy is your typical EU federalist. He isn’t going to step on anyone’s toes or try to dominate the world like Tony Blair or President Sarkozy might have. But he can be relied upon to quietly make sure that the EU gets more and more powers, with less and less say for voters.”

The new EU President will earn €350,000 a year, taxed at 25 percent, and will have a staff of 22 press officers, assistants and administrators, in addition to 10 security agents.  This is double the salary he had as Belgian Prime Minister and  is significantly more than US President Barack Obama’s salary, which is around $400,000 a year or €269,000. The total cost of the President and his team will be ¤6 million a year.


by Anthony Coughlan

With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on Tuesday 1 December, members of the European Parliament, who up to now have been “representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community” (Art.189 TEC),  become “representatives of the Union’s citizens” (Art.14 TEU).

This change in the status of MEPs is but one illustration of the constitutional revolution being brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.

For Lisbon, like the EU Constitution before it, establishes for the first time a European Union which is constitutionally separate from and superior to its Member States, just as the USA is separate from and superior to its 50 constituent states or as Federal Germany is in relation to its Länder.

The 27 EU members thereby lose their character as true sovereign States. Constitutionally, they become more like regional states in a multinational Federation, although they still retain some of the trappings of their former sovereignty. Simultaneously, 500 million Europeans becomes real citizens of the constitutionally new post-Lisbon European Union, with real citizens’ rights and duties with regard to this EU, as compared with the merely notional or symbolical EU citizenship they are assumed to have possessed up to now.

Most Europeans are unaware of these astonishing changes, for two reasons.  One is that, with the exception of the Irish, they have been denied any chance of learning about and debating them in national referendums. The other is that the terms “European Union”, “EU citizen” and “EU citizenship” remain the same before and after Lisbon, although Lisbon changes their constitutional content fundamentally.

The Lisbon Treaty therefore is a constitutional revolution by stealth.

The EU Constitution, which the peoples of France and Holland rejected in 2005, sought to establish a new European Union in the constitutional form of a Federation directly. Its first article stated: “This Constitution establishes the European Union”. That would clearly have been a European Union with a different constitutional basis from the EU that had been set up by the Maastricht Treaty 13 years before.

Lisbon brings a constitutionally new Union into being indirectly rather than directly, by amending the two existing European Treaties instead of replacing them entirely, as the earlier Constitutional Treaty had sought to do. Thus Lisbon states: “The Union shall be founded on the present Treaty” – viz. the Treaty on European Union (TEU) -”and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union.” These two Treaties together then become the Constitution of the post-Lisbon European Union. A new Union is in effect being “constituted”, although the word “Constitution” is not used.

What we called the “European Union” pre-Lisbon is the descriptive term for the totality of legal relations between its 27 Member States and their peoples. This encompassed the European Community, which had legal personality, made supranational European laws and had various State-like features, as well as the Member States cooperating together on the basis of retained sovereignty in foreign policy and defence and in crime and justice matters.

Lisbon changes this situation fundamentally by giving the post-Lisbon Union the constitutional form of a true supranational Federation, in other words a State. The EU would still lack some powers of a fully developed Federation, the most obvious one being the power to force its Member States to go to war against their will. It would possess most of the powers of a State however, although it has nothing like the tax and spending levels of its constituent Member States.

Three steps to a federal-style Constitution

Lisbon’s constitutional revolution takes place in three interconnected steps:

Firstly, the Treaty establishes a European Union with legal personality and a fully independent corporate existence in all Union areas for the first time (Arts.1 and 47 TEU). This enables the post-Lisbon Union to function as a State vis-a-vis other States externally, and in relation to its own citizens internally

Secondly, Lisbon abolishes the European Community which goes back to the Treaty of Rome and which makes European laws at present, and transfers the Community’s powers and institutions to the new Union, so that it is the post-Lisbon Union, not the Community, which will make supranational European laws henceforth (Art.1 TEU).  Lisbon also transfers to the EU the “intergovernmental” powers over crime, justice and home affairs, as well as foreign policy and security, which at present are not covered by European law-making, leaving only aspects of the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy outside the scope of its supranational powers. The Treaty thereby give a unified constitutional structure to the post-Lisbon Union.

Thirdly, Lisbon then makes 500 million Europeans into real citizens of the new Federal-style Union which the Treaty establishes (Arts.9 TEU and 20 TFEU). Instead  of EU citizenship “complementing” national citizenship,  as under the present Maastricht Treaty-based EU (Art.17 TEC), which makes such citizenship essentially symbolical, Lisbon provides that EU citizenship shall be “additional to” national citizenship.

This is a real dual citizenship – not of two different States, but of two different levels of one State. One can only be a citizen of a State and all States must have citizens. Dual citizenship like that provided for in Lisbon is normal in classical Federations which have been established from the bottom up by constituent states surrendering their sovereignty to a superior federal entity, in contrast to federations that have come into being “top-down”, as it were, as a result of unitary states adopting federal form.  Examples of the former are the USA, 19th Century Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia. Lisbon would confer a threefold citizenship on citizens of Federal Germany’s Länder.

Being a citizen means that one must obey the law and give loyalty to the authority of the State one is a citizen of – in the case of classical Federations, of the two state levels, the federal and the regional or provincial. In the post-Lisbon EU the rights and duties attaching to citizenship of the Union will be superior to those attaching to one’s national citizenship in any case of conflict between the two, because of the superiority of Union law over national law and Constitutions (Declaration No 17 concerning Primacy).

The EU will be constitutionally superior even though the powers of the new Union come from its Member States in accordance with the “principle of conferral” (Art.5 TEU). Where else after all could it get its powers from?  This is so even though the Member States retain their national Constitutions and their citizens keep their national citizenships. The local states of the USA retain their different state Constitutions and citizenships, even though both are subordinate to the US Federal Constitution in any case of conflict between the two. The tenth amendment to the US Constitution alludes to the principle of conferral when it lays down that powers not delegated to the US Federation “are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people“.

Likewise,  it is not unusual for the Constitutions of classical Federations to provide for a right of withdrawal for their constituent states, just as the Lisbon Treaty does (Art.50 TEU). The existence of these features in the Constitution of the post-Lisbon Union does not take away from its federal character.

An alternative source of democratic legitimacy to the Nation State

Under Lisbon population size will in turn become the primary basis for EU law-making, as in any State with a common citizenry. This will happen after 2014, when the Treaty provision comes into force that EU laws will be made  by 55% of Member States as long as they represent 65% of the total population of the Union.

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

The constitutional structure of the post-Lisbon EU is completed by the provision  which turns the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents into an “institution” of the new Union (Art.13 TEU), so that its acts or its failing to act would, like those of the other Union institutions, be subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice.

Constitutionally speaking, the summit meetings  of the European Council will henceforth no longer be “intergovernmental” gatherings outside supranational European structures, as they have been up to now.  The European Council will in effect be the Cabinet Government of the post-Lisbon Union. Its individual members will be constitutionally obliged to represent the Union to their Member States as well as their Member States to the Union, with the former function imposing primacy of obligation in any case of conflict or tension between the two.

One doubts if all the Heads of State or Government who make up the European Council themselves appreciate this!

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

Although the Lisbon Treaty has given the EU a Federal-style Constitution without most people noticing, they are bound to find out in time and react against what is being done. There is no European people or demos which could give democratic legitimacy to the institutions the Lisbon Treaty establishes and make people identify with these as they do with the institutions of their home countries. This is the core problem of the  EU integration project. Lisbon in effect has made the EU’s democratic deficit much worse.
It is hard to imagine that this will not make struggles to reestablish national independence and democracy and to repatriate supranational powers back to the Member States the central issue of EU politics in the years and decades ahead.

N.B. Although the above are major constitutional changes by any standard, both for the EU and its Member States,  Ireland’s Referendum Commission, under its chairman Mr Justice Frank Clarke, made absolutely no attempt to explain them or convey their significance to citizens in the Lisbon Two referendum in October. This was despite the fact that the Referendum Commission’s prime statutory duty under the Referendum Act was to explain to citizens how the proposed Lisbon constitutional amendment would affect the Irish Constitution.  The Referendum Commissioners were thereby guilty of a profound constitutional delinquency, for which the Government must surely be very grateful.

Anthony Coughlan is Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Dublin, and President of the Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels.


The EU’s accountants – the European Court of Auditors (ECA) –  published their annual report on the EU’s budget in early November. The ECA refused to give the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health for the 15th year in a row, owing to fraud and mismanagement in the budget. Like last year however, the auditors did sign off the Commission’s own accounts, saying that they accurately represented how much money was raised and spent.

Although the ECA’s report is about the management of the accounts, the occasion represents an opportunity to take a closer look at the EU budget as a whole. Because while mismanagement of the accounts continues to be problematic, even when EU payments are deemed “clean” they are often still hugely wasteful. This is because the process underpinning how money is spent encourages poor project selection.

National governments are handed a pot of money that has to be spent, regardless of whether there’s a real need or demand for a certain type of project. As a result, EU-funded projects easily become expensive solutions to invented problems. The complexity and needless centralisation of these budget programmes means that taxpayers are not getting value for their money.
To illustrate this, Open Europe has produced a light-hearted list of 50 new examples of EU waste. The list is by no means comprehensive, but designed to show the types of peculiar projects on which EU money has been wasted in the past. They include:

  • An art education project called “Donkeypedia”, in which a donkey travelled through the Netherlands to meet and greet primary school children, which was part of the EU’s €7 million ‘Year of Intercultural Dialogue’ initiative.
  • An EU grant worth 800,000 Swedish kronor (€80,000), given to Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo, in 2008 to create a virtual version of itself in “Second Life” – a virtual fantasy world inhabited by computer-generated residents.
  • €400,000 to get children drawing portraits of each other in the name of European citizenship.
  • €198,500 for an EU puppet theatre network in the Baltics.

To read Open Europe’s 50 new examples of EU waste in full, see here:


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

24 July 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognising the democratic deficit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⚠Irish Dáil should not have inferior powers to the German Parliament in controlling Irish Government Ministers when exercising the Lisbon Treaty’s self-amending powers

The  Dáil and Seanad should insist on  parliamentary control over the Taoiseach and Government Ministers in exercising the self-amending powers of the Lisbon Treaty, just as the German Constitutional Court requires the German Parliament to do.

Ireland should not be content with a lesser standard of parliamentary control of  Government Ministers than Germany if the Lisbon Treaty should be ratified.

The Government should make provision for Oireachtas control of Lisbon’s self-amending powers  in legislation accompanying the Lisbon Treaty Referendum Bill.

Otherwise not only the people, but the Dail and Seanad,  would be agreeing to give extraordinary powers to Ministers if the Lisbon Treaty should come into force.

The Simplified Treaty Revision Procedure proposed by Lisbon (Art.48.7, amended Treaty on European Union) would permit the Prime Ministers and Presidents on the European Council to shift European Union decision-taking from unanimity to qualified majority voting in most of the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union (TFEU), as long as they agreed this unanimously amongst themselves.

This could apply, for example, to the Treaty article dealing with harmonising indirect taxes (Art.113 TFEU), where unanimity is currently required

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

While the Lisbon Treaty provides that National Parliaments have to be notified of shifts from unanimity to qualified majority voting in some, though not all,  of these cases,  National Parliaments are not required to give their formal agreement.  The Taoiseach and Government Ministers would be able therefore to exercise these powers without  proper parliamentary control.

Of concern also is the enlarged scope of the “Flexibility Clause” (Art.352 TFEU), whereby if  the Treaty does not provide the necessary powers to enable the Union attain its very wide objectives, the Council of Ministers may take appropriate measures by unanimity.

The Lisbon Treaty would extend this provision from the area of operation of the Common Market, where it operates at present,  to all of the new Union’s policies directed at attaining its much wider post-Lisbon objectives. The Flexibility Clause has been widely used to extend EU law-making over the years. The consent of National Parliaments  is not required for Government Ministers to use it.

As the judgement of the  German Constitutional Court states (par. 414):  “To the extent that the general bridging procedure pursuant to Article 48.7(3)TEU Lisbon and the special bridging clause pursuant to Article 81.3(3) TFEU grant the national parliaments a right to make known their opposition, this is not a  sufficient equivalent to the requirement of ratification. It is therefore necessary that the representative of the German Government  in the European Council or in the Council may only approve the draft Resolution if empowered to do so by the German Bundestag and Bundesrat within a period yet to be determined …”

And again: ” …the silence of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat  may not be construed as approval.” (par. 416)

As things stand, Ireland’s Dail and Seanad will be expected to remain silent while Irish Government Ministers exercise these extraordinary new powers at EU level  in a post-Lisbon EU – unless legislation comparable to what Germany’s Constitutional Court proposes makes their actions subject to parliamentary approval in advance, and subject indirectly to the approval of Ireland’s citizens.

On Tuesday the German Constitutional Court ruled that ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would only be constitutional for Germany if parliamentary control  – and indirectly citizens’ control – over German Government Ministers operating at EU level were instituted in these “self-amending: Treaty areas.

This should also be done in Ireland.


Anthony Coughlan


☘Lisbon Treaty News: German Constitutional Court delays Germany’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty

Below for your information is a news item received from  Open Europe, London,  on the German Constitutional Court’s  decision of this morning on the Lisbon Treaty.

Appended to this post is an ☛on-site link to the Constitutional Court’s  decision  in English.

It seems that the  Constitutional  Court is saying that Germany, at least , must ensure that their parliament – both houses – participates in major EU decisions.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  says the Constitutional Court ruling is demanding a law to guarantee the rights of the German Parliament in the EU decision-making process.

If that is so, should not Oireachtas Eireann have a law requiring this too – and Westminster and Paris and Prague and Bucharest, and 22 others?

Should  not all EU National  Parliaments also have  “participation in European lawmaking procedures”?

The most important  operative paragraphs of the  Court’s  ruling seem to be  these ones:-

The Basic Law does not grant the German state bodies powers to transfer sovereign powers in such a way that their exercise can independently establish other competences for the European Union. It prohibits the transfer of competence to decide on its own competence  (Kompetenz-Kompetenz).

The principle of conferral is therefore not only a principle of European law (Article 5.1 of the Treaty on European Union; Article 5.1 sentence 1 and 5.12 of the Treaty on European Union  in its version of the Treaty of Lisbon ), but, just like the European Union’s obligation to respect the Member States’ national identity (Article 6.3 TEU; Article 4.2 sentence 1 TEU Lisbon), it takes up constitutional principles from the Member States. The integration programme of the European Union must therefore be sufficiently precise.

To the extent that the Member States elaborate the law laid down in the Treaties in such a way that, with the principle of conferral fundamentally continuing to apply, an amendment of the law laid down in the Treaties can be brought about without a ratification procedure, a special responsibility is incumbent on the legislative bodies, apart from the Federal Government, as regards participation, which, in Germany, must, on the national level, comply with the requirements under Article 23.1 of the Basic Law (responsibility for integration).

The act approving a treaty amending a European Treaty and the national accompanying laws must therefore be such that European integration continues to take place according to the principle of conferral without the possibility for the European Union of taking possession of Kompetenz-Kompetenz or to violate the Member States’ constitutional identity which is not amenable to integration, in this case, that of the Basic Law.

For borderline cases of what is still constitutionally admissible, the German legislature must, if necessary, make arrangements with its laws that accompany approval to ensure that the responsibility for integration of the legislative bodies can sufficiently develop.

– Anthony Coughlan


German Constitutional Court suspends ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, demanding a change to German law giving parliament more say over EU decision-making

CREDIT: Open Europe

30 June 2009

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the German Constitutional Court has ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the German Constitution, but has withheld approval for immediate ratification, demanding a law to guarantee the rights of the German Parliament in the EU decision-making process.

The press release of the Constitutional Court notes that the German ratification act should be modified because the German Lower House and Upper House “have not been accorded sufficient rights of participation in European lawmaking procedures and treaty amendment procedures.”

It continues: “the Federal Republic of Germany’s instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon may not be deposited as long as the constitutionally required legal elaboration of the parliamentary rights of participation has not entered into force.”

The press release notes that: “the further development of the competences of the European Parliament can reduce, but not completely fill, the gap between the extent of the decision-making power of the Union’s institutions and the citizens’ democratic power of action in the Member States.”

FT Deutschland notes that “the Judges have considered the EU to have a democratic deficit. Therefore sovereign rights such as decisions on budgetary matters or on penal law, cannot be transferred to the EU without the consent of the German Lower and Upper House”. The newspaper reports that this means the German Parliament will in future need to consent to any changes to the EU treaties, with Frankfurter Rundschau reporting that military operations, “which could be possible after Lisbon”, will have to be approved by the German Parliament.

Deutsche Welle quotes the Court saying: “If one wanted to summarise this result, one could say: the Constitutional Court says ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty but demands that parliament’s right to participation be strengthened at the national level.”

Die Welt notes that the German law giving the Parliament more say could pass soon, with a first reading to be held on 26 August. The leader of the Christian Democrat faction leader in the German Parliament Norbert Röttgen has announced that the second and third reading are planned for 8 September. German elections are to be held on 27 September.

Open Europe has published a new poll, conducted by German polling company Psyma, which shows that 77 percent of German voters want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

German Constitutional Court Decision: Lisbon Treaty Ratification

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
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


EU OBSERVER                                     29.6.09

Irish commissioner says EU Treaty would be rejected in most countries


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.


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.


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


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


What the European Community is doing on our behalf.
Brussels, 4.6.2009  COM(2009) 255 final  2009/0073 (CNS)
Proposal for a
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


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”.


“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.


“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

⚠ Spoofing the Irish media and public with Lisbon “guarantees” that guarantee nothing

The central point to grasp about the current EU Summit proceedings on the Lisbon Treaty is that Messrs Brian Cowen’s and Micheál Martin’s “legally binding guarantees” to meet Irish voters’ concerns do not change a jot or tittle of that Treaty.

If they changed even a comma, the Lisbon Treaty would become a different Treaty and would have to be ratified again from scratch by the National Parliaments of the 27 EU Member States.

EU politicians cannot change the treaties, or their effects, just by signing a new agreement: the Court of Justice will always say that the provisions of a fully ratified European Treaty trump any attempt to modify the operation of the Treaty through an unratified agreement.

EU treaties cannot be amended in any way unless the document embodying the amendments has been both signed by EU leaders, and then ratified by all EU Member States “in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements”. That is not happening here.

Thus the Lisbon Treaty which the Irish people will be voting on in the autumn will be exactly the same Treaty as the one which the majority of voters rejected in last year’s referendum by 53% to 47% on a 53% turnout.

If the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, it would be the EU Court of Justice which would interpret it, as the EU Court is the only body authorised under the European Treaties to interpret them and decide how they should be applied.

The “decision” or agreement of the European Council that certain provisions of the Lisbon Treaty mean such and such is just that – an agreement between the 27 Prime Ministers and Presidents. It is legally binding on them as individuals, but it is not an international Treaty between States which would require ratification by the 27 EU States putting it before their National Parliaments for approval, as is the normal mode of ratification of treaties.

The text of the introduction to the Summit “decision” states that it is made by the Heads of State or Government “desiring to address those (Irish) concerns in conformity with that Treaty”, viz the Lisbon Treaty.

Being in conformity with the Lisbon Treaty, the “decision” or agreement cannot add to or substract from Lisbon in the slightest, and it would be for the EU Court, and the Court alone, to decide what Lisbon and its manifold provisions would mean if Lisbon should come into force.

So far as one can ascertain, the Summit “decision” or “agreement” is not actually being signed by the 27 Prime Ministers and Presidents who agree it, as would be normal with an international Treaty pending its formal ratification. Note that it is not being called a Treaty, but rather a “decision” or “agreement”.

Formally registering this decision at the United Nations as a political agreement between the Prime Ministers and Presidents concerned, is intended to make it look more significant to the Irish public. This would confer on it a minor status in international law, but not in EU law. It would not and could not override EU law.

Some future meeting of the European Council of EU Prime Ministers and Presidents could make some other decision or agreement, possibly even in contradiction to this agreement, and that would be equally valuable or valueless, for it would not add to or take away from the Treaties one iota.

The whole process is meant to give the Irish media and public the impression that some real change is being made to the Lisbon Treaty, when nothing like that is happening.

Nor is the Summit “decision” or “agreement” a legally binding Protocol attached to Lisbon, which would form part of that Treaty and which would be binding in European law and on the EU Court of Justice in interpreting and applying European law. For that would require opening the Lisbon Treaty and ratifiying the new Protocol anew as part of it.

Promise of a special Irish Protocol or “clarificatory declaration” to be attached to some future EU Treaty, possibly years away, would be just that – a promise. It would not affect the Lisbon Treaty coming into force, with all its legal obligations. It would not prevent the constitutionally new European Union which Lisbon would create being established.

In no way could a promised Protocol to some future EU Treaty resile or pull back from the obligations entailed by the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty once Lisbon had come into force.

What could such a promised future Protocol do in any case, for Ireland is not seeking any opt-outs from the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty?

In 1992 when the Danish people voted No to the Maastricht Treaty, its Government sought and secured legally binding opt-outs from the central provisions of Maastricht – the euro-currency, EU military and security commitments, and Maastricht’s provisions on EU citizenship. These provisions of Maastricht were never applied to Denmark and that position was formally recognised by a Protocol in the EU Treaties at the time of the 1998 Amsterdam Treaty, and these Danish opt-outs still apply.

Nothing like that is being sought by Ireland, whose Government has signed up to and accepted the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution which it embodies in their entirety.

That is just as true now as it was last year.


Anthony Coughlan
(Contact for further information: 01-8305792 )

⁂ The EU, the US founding fathers and the “last word”

by Denis Cooper

There can be few more terrifying sentences in contemporary English than: “The Treaty of Lisbon is not the last word.”

The sentence appears in “Saving the European Union” a new book by Andrew Duff, a British Liberal Democrat who sits in the European Parliament. It is certain to raise the hackles of anti-Lisbon campaigners, who have said all along that the EU can never resist the temptation to keep tinkering with its institutional arrangements, no matter how strong the evidence that European voters are thoroughly turned off by the whole process.

Before I develop this point, let me note that Duff’s short book is an excellent introduction to the Lisbon Treaty and to the challenges facing today’s EU. Friends and foes alike of the EU will benefit from reading it. Duff is one of the European Parliament’s top constitutional affairs experts, and he writes clean, crisp prose.

The Lisbon Treaty’s fate hangs mainly on the outcome of a referendum, expected to take place in October, in Ireland, whose electorate rejected the document in June 2008 by a 53.4 to 46.6 per cent margin.

If the Irish reverse their verdict and Lisbon comes into effect, EU leaders have solemnly promised us that there will be no more institutional tinkering, no more inter-governmental conferences, no more constitutional conventions – in short, no more attempts to ape Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the other US founding fathers – for a long time to come. “We’re in tune with the voters,” is the message. “We know they wouldn’t forgive us.”

The institutional reform efforts that are encapsulated in Lisbon began as long ago as 2001 and have been plagued with embarrassing setbacks, so it is understandable that most EU leaders have little appetite at the moment for yet more self-punishment. Still, I have always had a sneaking suspicion that the adoption of Lisbon would in fact serve as a prelude to another bite at the institutional cherry.
Duff’s book strengthens this suspicion. “The founding fathers of the United States admitted from the outset that the Constitution as drafted was not the final word. Far from over-selling the text as the ultimate settlement, as some Europeans have done with Lisbon, the Americans were bold enough to admit that further amendment would be both desirable and necessary.”

Duff continues: “So the Treaty of Lisbon is not the last word. Europe can decide whether it wants to be more united or more divided: it neither can nor will stay as it is. The challenge is to manage this federalisation process with similar skill and boldness to that evinced in their time by Messrs Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson.”

Well, there you have it. Lisbon isn’t the last word. Europe must move on with its “federalisation process”. You can’t say you haven’t been warned.

⁂ Barroso tries bullying the Czechs, as the Lisbon Treaty is not a priority for them

What a load of rubbish Barroso talks. The procedures for ratifying treaties are clear and nobody has any obligation to anyone else if they decdide that other things are more important than ratifying the wretched Lisbon Treaty which the European public doesn’t want.

The world may be falling into financial chaos, his mother may be on fire and little green men are landing on earth, but all Barroso can think of is getting more power into his hands in Brussels by bullying reluctant countries.

Czechs ‘have obligation’ to pass Lisbon Treaty despite government’s collapse
The Telegraph
The Czech Republic has an “obligation” to ratify the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty despite the collapse of its government, the European Commission president has said.
By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

⁂ De Rossa attacks Czech Premier for his insufficient enthusiasm for Lisbon!

The Phoenix
March 13, 2009
Affairs of the Nation, p.11

“The Czech Prime Minister, Mirek Topolanek, was dealt with in no uncertain terms by Labour’s Europhile Dublin MEP Proinsias De Rossa recently after the Czech leader, whose country assumed presidency of the EU in January, addressed the European Parliament.

“Topolanke explained that he would not be to upset if the Lisbon Treaty was rejected, although he would vote for it and that the EU could function without Lisbon under existing Nice Treaty arrangements. He also warned, with reference to Ireland, that ‘telling member states in advance that they have to ratify the treaty and that they do not have the right to decide whether to approve it or no, is absurd’.

“This seems an eminently reasonable attitude to adopt by a lukewarm supporter of Lisbon but De Rossa was having none of it and he tore into the Czech premier with abandon saying he was ‘appalled by your comment here this morning that Lisbon is worse than Nice … That is not only untrue, it is divisive and it is a breach of trust. You have to seriously consider withdrawing your remarks.’

“Eurosceptic British Tory MEP Daniel Hannan picked up on De Rossa’s remarks and derided the Labour MEP on his blog, hosted on the Telegraph website, pointing out that certain pro-Lisbon politicians could not even stomach allies who were not sufficiently ardent in their support for the treaty. Hannan also pointed out that De Rossa was dismissing his own electorate in Ireland who had rejected his pro-Lisbon position. Worse, Hannan posted a video of De Rossa’s speech on his blog, christening it: ‘De Rossa’s attack on Democracy.’

“A livid De Rossa then wrote to Hannan demanding that he retitle his video, a demand the Tory MEP graciously acceded to, telling his colleague, ‘You’ve always struck me as a decent fellow’, while nevertheless repeating to De Rossa that he had a ‘contemptuous attitude’ towards his own electorate.”

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