The Crisis of the Euro: “Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?”

“The member states whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.”
– Amendment to Article 136 of the EU Treaties (TFEU) which was decided on by the 27 EU Member States at the March European Council summit and which licensed the 17 Eurozone States to sign the European Stability Mechanism Treaty on yesterday week, 11 July.
This ESM Treaty would establish a permanent EU bailout fund from 2013. The ESM Treaty and the Art.136 EU Treaty amendment which authorises it now go around for ratification by the Member States. The Government has decided not to put it to referendum here even though it means more power to the EU. The ESM Treaty can be downloaded from the internet.

The Irish Coalition Government, supported by Fianna Fail, intends in the autumn to get the Oireachtas to approve the decision to make the above amendment to the EU Treaties and then to ratify the consequential ESM Treaty for the 17 Eurozone countries.

They do not intend to hold a constitutional referendum, even though the wording of the Art.136 TFEU amendment and the ESM Treaty that derives from it would formally subordinate Ireland’s interests to those of “the stability of the euro area as a whole” … Even though there are no Treaty limits laid down as regards the “strict conditionality” which can be imposed on recipients of financial bailouts from the permanent ESM Fund envisaged … And even though Ireland will be required to contribute some €11 billion in paid-up and callable capital and guarantees once this Fund is set up in 2013.

The Irish Government thereby hopes to circumvent the 1987 Crotty judgement of the Supreme Court that new EU Treaties which extend the scope and powers of the EU and entail further surrenders of Irish sovereignty to Brussels/Frankfort, can only be made if the Irish people agree to them in a constitutional referendum. It is only the sovereign people themselves can decide on further significant surrenders of sovereignty to the EU – not our politicians or our TDs and Senators.

On 12 July Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on RTE that were it not for Spain and Italy he would have been “euphoric” about what happened at the meeting of EU Finance Ministers the day before, when they spoke about the possibility of lowering the penal 6% interest rate being charged for the giant EU/IMF loan that was pushed on Dublin last November.

That was a bit like saying “Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?” The reason Minister Noonan was (almost) euphoric was because (as he said) the euro crisis is no longer about Ireland, Greece or Portugal but about core Europe.

The ultra-Europhiles in Ireland’s Establishment do not care what happens to Ireland, the euro or the EU, as long as they are not blamed.

The lack of self-confidence on the part of Ireland’s “Federalistas” is astonishing.

The powers-that-be bang on about the loss of Irish “economic sovereignty”, but they all want to have the euro debt federalized so that they can brandish an interest rate reduction on the current EU/IMF loan as a superlative political achievement.

Federalizing the debt means the end of the State’s 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax, which is crucial for attracting foreign investment in the Irish economy, and a lot more besides, as Berlin takes over permanently Ireland’s detailed budget decision-taking under the permanent EMS Treaty.

The Irish State is caught between a rock and a hard place, so far as Ireland’s “Federalistas” are concerned. It is bye-bye euro or bye-bye to what is left of Irish sovereignty.

On 16 July the Irish Times called for an EU fiscal and political union in its lead editorial. “This has always been the project’s ultimate end-point,” it stated.

But there was no mention of that being the “ultimate end-point” as Ireland’s paper of record championed passionately and uncritically every step of EU integration down the decades.

What a catastrophe the Eurofanaticism of Ireland’s “Federalistas” has brought down upon the Irish people:

* Pushing us in 1999 to join a monetary union with an area with which we did only one-third of our trade…

* Leading us to adopt totally unsuitable low interest rates in the early 2000s because these suited Germany at the time, so making our “Celtic Tiger” boom “boomier”, as Bertie Ahern put it, and inflating the property bubble…

* And since 2008 turning us into debt peons of the European Central Bank, whose Jean-Claude Trichet told Messrs Cowen and Lenihan at the time of the infamous blanket bank guarantee of 29 September 2008 that Anglo-Irish Bank must on no account be let go bust and that the foreign creditors/bondholders of the Irish banks must be paid every cent in full.

Which EU country had the highest economic growth rate last year? It was Sweden, at 5.5% . . . In the EU but happily outside the Eurozone. Its people sensibly rejected Eurozone membership in 2003 in a referendum vote of 56% to 44%, even though most of that country’s politicians supported abolishing the Swedish kroner at the time.

Angela Merkel now has to find a way of telling her own people that Germany is about to achieve the ambitions for which they fought and lost two World Wars, but that it will cost them money.

She also has to find a way of saying that without the rest of us noticing! And the other Heads of Government have to find a way of telling their electorates that the price of a continuing Eurozone of 17 is permanent German hegemony plus an austerity economic regime with all that that entails.

The only longterm solution of the current crisis is either federalizing the euro sovereign debt or the break-up of the Eurozone of 17. There are now likely to be moves to try to federalize some of the debts. There will be developments pointing to Trichet’s hoped-for EU Finance Ministry and much else besides, but one wishes that the proponents of the EU developing into a United States of Europe would ask themselves what happens after that. Such a logical end-point of the “great EU integration project” would not be the end of European history.

* Do the Euro-federalists really think that the many peoples of the EU would submit to effective German-French economic rule for the indefinite future?

* Do they really believe that they can institute a European democracy without a European “demos”? …

* Or that the latter can somehow be artificially created? …

* Or that people will submit indefinitely to administration by Brussels-Frankfurt technocrats, fronting for Berlin, no matter how benevolent these regard their own intentions?

These quite unrealistic assumptions have been subscribed to by the EU integrationists from the start. These people are now being exposed for the arrogant blunderers and fantasists they are, but millions are suffering terribly, and will suffer further, as they seek to impose ever more austerity on the PIIGS countries in the hope of saving their grand euro-currency “project”.

History has many examples of failed currency unions even though they were also fiscal and political unions.

The Irish State left the British monetary union after a century of membership. An independent Irish currency was seen by successive generations of Irish nationalists as an indispensable part of an independent Irish State.

Where now is the USSR rouble, the Yugoslav dinar, the Czechoslovak crown or the Austro-Hungarian thaler – all currencies of multinational federations that were monetary, fiscal and political unions for three-quarters of a century or longer, and all now vanished into history along with their creators?

Europe is a Europe of the Nations and the States or it is nothing, as Charles De Gaulle once said. That statement of democratic principle of course is internationalism, not nationalism. We need to adopt it as part of the ABC of political realism in face of the current crisis.

Democrats need to work towards a Europe of independent democratic cooperating Nation States, and abandon the fantasy of turning the EU into a world power under effective Franco-German hegemony, with the elites of small countries like Ireland serving as their well-paid local acolytes.

Anthony Coughlan Director The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The weakness of Euro membership for Ireland

(1.)
http://newsweaver.ie/bloxhamresearch/e_article001314795.cfm?x=bf0GvBb,bcgrvNVl
Bloxham Morning Note
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Company/Economic News
Strategy – Lex pointing out Ireland’s weakness

The weakness of Euro membership for Ireland is highlighted into today’s Lex column. With the UK doing what is needed to adjust to the new economic reality and devaluing its currency, Ireland is unable to devalue its currency to restore competitiveness. Therefore Lex points out that wages in Ireland will need to fall, something which is exceptionally difficult to achieve. While the Euro zone has provided us with the buffer of a central banking guarantee, the downside pain is in a loss of competitiveness against our nearest neighbour, the UK.

Published by Bloxham
Copyright © 2008 Bloxham. All rights reserved.


(2.)
specials.ft.com/cgi-bin/Common/FTToday/nph-todayEdition.cgi?latest=BACK1_LON
The Financial Times
THE LEX COLUMN
Wednesday January 14 2009
Eurozones of pain

The Irish must be feeling green, and so too the Spanish, Greeks and Portuguese. Over the past week, all four countries’ debt ratings have been placed on review for downgrade.
Dublin, Madrid, Athens and Lisbon may bat away such warnings with reassuring noises about how they will put their financial houses in order – even if they, meanwhile, suffer higher borrowing costs. What they cannot dismiss so easily, however, is the solution to their troubles: deflation.
The potential downgrades are only a manifestation of a deeper problem: a loss of competitiveness. That is largely why the Irish, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese trade deficits are so large and their economies slowing so fast. It has been a long decline. Euro membership lowered borrowing costs, but unleashed a credit boom and a rise in prices – most obviously in housing but also in wages.
Ireland shows the problem writ large. Since 2000, its relative wage costs have risen by 20 percentage points versus Germany. (Greek wage costs have risen by about 5 points.) Export performance has been further hurt by the weakening currencies of two of its major trading partners, the
US and the UK. That is why Brian Lenihan, the Irish finance minister, lashed out at the UK, saying the pound’s fall had caused Ireland “immense problems”. The quick solution would be for Ireland to devalue too. As a euro member, it cannot. Instead it has to deflate.
Germany managed this at the start of the millennium. But as its trading partners were inflating at the time, German prices only had to rise at a slower rate for relative wages to fall. Today, with inflation falling everywhere, that path is not open to uncompetitive eurozone countries.
Instead, wages have to fall in absolute terms. That is immensely painful. It is also politically unpalatable; democracies generally don’t “do” wage deflation. Even East Asian countries, with their more flexible labour markets, did not manage it during the 1997 crisis – or at least not without political change.
The Irish referendum this autumn on the European Constitution may well be an explosive vote.

Minister Dick Roche: “The People Have Spoken”

You may find of  interest the remarks below of Mr Dick Roche TD  when a backbencher in 2001  and before he was promoted to Minister for Europe, regarding the proposal to re-run the Nice referendum.

They provide a piquant contrast to some of his recent statements.

The voter turnout in the 2001 Nice referendum was 35%,  in contrast to the  majority turnout in the 12 June Lisbon referendum.

“THE IRISH PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.”

Mr Dick Roche TD on why it would be a “democratic affront” to re-run the Nice Treaty referendum without making changes to the Treaty… spoken when he was a Dail backbencher in 2001  and before he was made Minister for Europe

“It is foolhardy to talk about another referendum at this stage unless something fundamental changes. To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront. Something fundamental will have to be changed in the Nice treaty before we can even contemplate putting it before the people again.”

– Dail Debates, Vol. 358, pp. 1058-1061, 21 June 2001)

_________

Below are some further excerpts from the same Dail speech of Mr Roche, backbencher)

_________

 

“So far as the Nice Treaty is concerned, the Irish people have spoken and, like it or lump it, the Commission and its President have to accept it. They should do so with more good grace than they have shown in the recent past?

The Nice Treaty, no matter what its good intentions, is a document that has been democratically tested in only one Member State, and that is Ireland. It failed to meet the democratic test in this nation. It is an arrogance for any politician, either here or any Commissioner in Europe, to ignore the fundamental fact that the Irish people have spoken with some clarity on the matter. Yet last night the President of the Commission suggested that somehow or other the Irish people’s will can be undone. If the Commission, its leaders or the Governments of other European states decide to sweep democracy aside, we must ask on what basis is the future of Europe to be built?

Over the past two days I attended a meeting of the interim European Security and Defence Assembly. I was amazed and gratified in equal measure at the response by European parliamentarians from 28 different European nations to the Irish referendum.  It was an interesting and extraordinary eye-opener. There was no finger-wagging or suggestion that our people had been wrong or were confused; rather there was a degree of admiration for the decision the Irish had made. Speakers from the United Kingdom to Slovenia to Greece spoke on the issue. They indicated their support for the right of the Irish people to make a decision on this matter. They were by no means all Euro-sceptics. Speakers from a number of countries both within and outside the Union indicated that the Irish people by its vote reflected a common view and concern that now exists both within the EU and in those states most proximate to the EU. Members from the EU states who contributed directly in the debate or who spoke privately to the Irish delegation members indicated that it was their view – I made an effort to do a straw poll  – that referenda on the Nice Treaty as it currently stands, if held in other member states, would meet with the same public response as in Ireland.

There is something distinctly odd about democratic states attempting to take decisions that are out of line with the sentiment of their citizens. The gulf that exists between the citizens of Europe and the institutions, the commissioners and the bureaucrats who are now driving the Union, is nowhere more visible than in the area of peace, security and defence. In the run-up to the Nice Treaty the European Council decided, quite incredibly, that somehow the European Union could now take charge of peace, security and defence issues across the continent of Europe both within and outside the Union?

The issues raised by the rejection of the Nice Treaty in the referendum are of a fundamental nature.  I have listened with some dismay to today’s debate and the debate that has taken place in the weeks since the referendum. Many in the political leadership of the nation are more focused on making a political point about the referendum than on truly addressing the core issues behind the judgement passed by the people?

It is foolhardy to talk about another referendum at this stage unless something fundamental changes. To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront. Something fundamental will have to be changed in the Nice treaty before we can even contemplate putting it before the people again?
The Nice treaty is a complex document which intends to achieve complex things.  It was sold to the Irish people as a means of providing for the enlargement of the European  Union. Last night Mr Prodi made it very clear that was not what the treaty  is about. He did not, however, make clear precisely what it is about. He was saying, therefore, that the enlargement process could be achieved without the Nice treaty.

I mentioned the assembly I attended yesterday and the considerable interest shown in the decision of the Irish people.  Some thought-provoking contributors indicated that the opportunity afforded the Irish people should also be offered to the citizens of other member states. Maybe then Europe would get a clear message about what the people of Europe expect in the coming years.”

– Dick Roche, 2001

Irish Times article: Lisbon would turn Ireland into a province

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

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


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

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

*Lisbon: mandatory tax harmonisation

The Lisbon Treaty amendment on EU harmonized taxes which has not been publicly mentioned so far in Ireland’s referendum debate

Article  2.79 of the Lisbon Treaty would insert a six-word amendment -”and to avoid distorton of competition” – into the Article of the existing European Treaties dealing with harmonising indirect taxes – Article 113. The full amended Article would then read as follows:
Article 113
“The Council shall, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition.”
(The Lisbon Treaty amendment is underlined) . . .Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

The significance of this short but important amendment is that it would enable the European Court of Justice, which adjudicates on competition matters, to decide that Ireland’s 12.5% rate of company tax, or Estonia’s zero rate,  as against Britain’s 28% rate and Germany’s 30% is a distortion of competition which breaches the Treaty Articles dealing with the internal market – Art. 26 and Arts.101-9 TFEU –  in relation to which qualified majority voting on the Council of Ministers applies.

The Irish Government’s veto under Article 113 would be irrelevant if those Articles on the Internal Market are invoked as the legal basis for proposing changes in EU tax laws.  All the assurances regarding unanimity underArticle 113 would then count for nothing.
Once this amendment to Article 113 is inserted, the European Commission, whose job it is to police the internal market, need only point out that the  big  cross-national disparities in  corporation tax rates and Ireland’s reluctance to accept a Common Consolidated Tax base which would tax company profits on the basis of their sales in different EU countries, at the tax rates prevailing in those countries, constitute a prima facie “distortion of competition” under Articles 101-109.
If Ireland refused to cooperate with what the Commission wanted, the Commission could bring it before the Court of Justice – or another country or firm could institute proceedings against it – and the Court could declare the Irish Government’s tax policy to be  unlawful as in breach of the EU’s Internal Market provisions.
Unanimity under Article 113 would certainly  be required to introduce any joint rates of company tax, but this Lisbon Treaty amendment would give the EU Commission and Court of Justice ample extra powers to erode Ireland’s low rate of corporation profits tax, whether we liked it or not.
If an Irish-based company had 10% of its sales or turnover in Ireland and 90% in, say, Britain, its profits from its Irish sales could be taxed at 12.5% and from its British sales at 28%, under the scheme the Commission has been mooting.  We might even  be allowed to keep our 12.5%  company tax indefinitely, but its practical benefit would be hugely eroded by proposals such as this, which this six-word  Lisbon Treaty amendment is designed to facilitate.
There is no other possible reason for inserting this hitherto virtually unnoticed  six-word amendment by means of the Lisbon Treaty.

Ireland’s 12.5% company tax rate, not to mind Estonia’s zero rate, just stand out as being clearly “distortions of competition” on the EU’s Internal Market.
Commission  President J.M. Barroso should be asked what is the significance of this six-word Lisbon Treaty  amendment  to Article 113 on harmonised taxes during his two-day visit to Ireland.
By refusing to ratify the Lisbon Treaty and agree to this important amendment we  refuse to hand over to the EU Commission and Court of Justice these new mechanisms to undermine the principal incentive attracting foreign companies to Ireland and keeping many of them in th country.  It should be noted of  course  that Ireland’s low corporation tax rate benefits Iindigenous companies also, and not just foreign multinationals here.
By rejecting Lisbon and insisting on a Protocol in any new Treaty which would protect the principle of tax-competition between the countrries, we  make a stand for economic freedom and reject the attempt to impose an economic straitjacket on the EU Member States in the interests of Germany, France and Britain, with their high company tax rates.
Note, incidentally, that harmonizing laws on indirect taxes in the EU is mandatory under Article 113 set out above: “The  Council SHALL…”
Anthony Coughlan
Secretary

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

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

From last Monday’s IRISH DAILY MAIL

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

__________

THE TREATY CON by John Lee and Michael Lea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Editorial Comment (page 14)

LISBON CAMPAIGN IS ANOTHER BITTER BETRAYAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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