“Open Letter” to Stephen Collins, Irish Times political correspondent, from Anthony Coughlan

Dear Stephen,

I suppose that you would count me as one of “the usual suspects” whom you refer to in your Irish Times article of last Saturday (23 March): ”Cypriot crisis puts Irish experience into perspective”, as wishing “to make political capital out of the initial botched attempt to impose some losses on Cypriot depositors”.

While you make valid points in your article, its concluding thrust – that “the EU and its institutions have made Europe a far better place than at any time in its history” – sidesteps the question of whether adopting the Euro-currency and becoming a member of the Eurozone, which is currently a legal obligation on all EU members except the UK and Denmark, have really made Europe “a far better place”.

Do you really believe that Europe is a better place today than it was, say, twenty-five years ago?

As the Cypriots, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians – and we Irish – are discovering the hard way these days, the EU/EC of, say, 1988, before the euro-currency project was embarked on, was by any objective standard surely a better place than the EU of today, when tensions and even hatred are growing between creditor and debtor States INSIDE the Eurozone and when the peoples of the ten EU States which have decided to stay OUTSIDE the Eurozone and to retain their national currencies are thanking their lucky stars they did not join that crisis-racked entity.

This point is made strongly by Bernard Connolly in the introduction he has written to the recent new edition of his classic book, “The Rotten Heart of Europe:The dirty war for Europe’s money”, which I am putting a copy in the post for you today in case you have not read it.

Connolly knows what he is talking about when it comes to monetary matters and his book sets out clearly how the Euro-currency was envisaged by its progenitors from the start as a device for pushing the peoples of the EU towards a supranational fiscal and political union, a quasi-Federation which would be under Franco-German political hegemony and in which the Brussels-Frankfurt bureaucracy would have vast executive powers.

This development was meant to erode – as it has eroded – the democracy of the Eurozone’s Nation States without replacing this with any meaningful democracy at the supranational level.

The latter is indeed in principle impossible, for there is no EU/Eurozone “demos” or people who are willing to identify with and give allegiance to such a supranational entity as truly “theirs”, and such an EU/Eurozone “demos” cannot be artificially created.

In other words, contrary to what your article of last Saturday implies, there is a qualitative difference between the pre-Eurozone and post-Eurozone EU, just as there is inside the EU between the 17 countries which have adopted the Euro and the 10 EU Member States which decided to retain their own national currencies.

As former Commission President Romano Prodi exulted some years back: “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that.”

Maybe you would consider sometime addressing these differences between the countries INSIDE the Eurozone, which Ireland’s leading politicians were foolish and irresponsible enough to join in 1999 even though we do over two-thirds of our foreign trade outside it, and the ten countries OUTSIDE the Eurozone which are still members of the EU.

On a related point: as Germany uses the crisis of the Euro-currency in an ever more obvious attempt to impose its political-economic will on the 16 other Eurozone Member States, it may be worth reminding Irish Times readers that from next year, 2014, Germany’s relative voting weight under the new population-based EU-law-making system enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon will increase from its present 8% of the total number of EU Council votes to 16%, the voting weights of France, Italy and Britain will increase from their present 8% each to 12% each, while Ireland’s relative voting weight in making EU laws will decline from its present 2% to less than 1%.

You will agree, I am sure, that this step, which most Irish people and indeed most Europeans are currently quite unaware of, is unlikely to make the rest of the Eurozone/EU look more kindly on Germany.

With best regards
yours sincerely

Anthony Coughlan
Director

PS. I am copying this letter to some of your fellow commentators in the Irish Times and other papers for their information, as doubtless they will have read your Saturday article also. The crucial distinction between the crisis in the Eurozone and the situation in the rest of the EU is too often not made by those who wish to divert attention from the historical catastrophe which the single currency is manifestly turning into.

The Irish Government lines up with Brussels against the Irish people

* Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister Michael Martin give in to Franco-German and EU Commission pressure to permit the remaining Lisbon ratifications to continue, when they could have stopped these by saying that Ireland cannot and will not ratify the Lisbon Treaty, as the Irish people have rejected it.

* The Irish Government lines up with Brussels against the Irish people rather than stands by the people’s democratic decision of last week to defend it vis-a-vis Brussels – so as to bring about a 26/1 situation by year’s end with which to bludgeon Irish voters in a referendum re-run.

* Talk of “respecting” Ireland’s vote turns out in practice to be a cover for setting out to overturn it in a referendum re-run, with Brian Cowen’s, Michael Martin’s and Dick Roche’s full support – and behind a thick barrier of hypocrisy, spoofing and lies.

Friday 20 June 2008

* These are the three principal lies Irish Government Ministers and the EU people are telling to hide their first steps towards preparing this Lisbon referendum re-run:

* LIE NO.1: That the nine EU States that have not yet ratified Lishon have a “right” to do so irrespective of the Irish No. There is no such right under either EU law or customary international law. Brian Cowen could stop any further ratifications by saying to his EU partners that he respects the Irish No, that because of that there is no question of trying to overturn it by re-running the referendum, and that therefore Lisbon is dead because Ireland cannot ratify it and there is no point any other ratifications continuing, for Lisbon cannot come into force unless all 27 ratify it. British Foreign Secretary David Milliband underlined this point last weekend when he said that it depended on Brian Cowen whether Lisbon was alive or dead.

* LIE No. 2: Minister Dick Roche was up to this usual spoofery on “Morning Ireland” today when he attacked Patricia McKenna for saying that the French and Dutch Governments stopped further ratifications of the EU Constitution in 2005 after their peoples voted No in their referendums. Minister Roche said that Luxembourg held a referendum on this Treaty after the French and Dutch No and in his usual gentlemanly fashion accused Ms McKenna of “telling lies”. In fact, as the Minister is well aware, the Luxembourg referendum was held shortly after the French and Dutch referendums but BEFORE the French and Dutch Governments decided they would not re-run them, and therefore that they could not ratify the Constitutional Treaty – which led the remaining EU States, including Ireland, to abandon further ratifications at that time.

Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche are spoofing like this, with their EU confreres helping them, to try to cover up the fact that the Irish Government is urging the nine remaining EU States to continue with their ratifications so as to bring about a 26/1 situation which can then be used to pressurise the Irish people to turn their No into a Yes in a second Lisbon referendum.

It is Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche who are failing to “respect” the Irish people’s No vote by effectively telling the other EU States not to respect it either, but to continue with their ratifications. Why should the other EU States respect last Thursday’s referendum result when the Irish Government does not respect it, but sets out rather to subvert it, as they decided to do even while the voting tallies were being counted on Friday morning last?

Remember Foreign Minister Martin saying at luncthtime on the day of the count that “of course” the remaining ratifications would continue. Remember Commission President Barroso’s at his press conference held before the count was even finished, following a phone chat with Taoiseach Cowen, saying the same thing.

If Messrs Cowen, Martin and Roche had a scintilla of the political courage and statesmanship of the founder of their Party, they would be telling their EU counterparts that they had no alternative but to open up Lisbon and work out a better Treaty for Ireland, for Europe and for a more democratic EU, instead of the supranational EU Federation, with laws made on a population basis, which is what is on offer in Lisbon.

* LIE NO.3: That the other EU States can go ahead with the Lisbon Treaty provisions under the rules for “enhanced cooperation”. The barrack-room lawyers of the Irish media are speaking here. It is the enhanced cooperation rules of the EU Treaties as amended by the Nice Treaty that currently apply. It is nonsense to suggest that the enhanced cooperation provisions of one Treaty, viz. Nice, can be used to bring into force the far wider provisions of another Treaty, viz. Lisbon.

* NB: The number of EU Commissioners must be decided unanimously.
Under the current Nice Treaty(Protocol on the enlargement of the EU, Article 4), a reduction in the number of Commissioners to fewer than the number of Member States must be decided unanimously in 2009. Under the Lisbon Treaty(Article 17.5 TEU) the number of Commissioners must be reduced by two-thirds from 2014, “unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this number.”

At their next summit meeting in October or December the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents will make a “European decision” that when it comes to allocating EU Commissioners in 2014 in the post-Lisbon EU, Ireland and all Member States will be permitted to retain a permanent Commissioner, although in practice there may be senior and junior Commissioners. Because both the Nice and Lisbon Treaties lay down that arrangements for the Commission require unanimity, a commitment on these lines can be given without opening Lisbon.

Taoiseach Cowen will present this as a triumph for Irish diplomacy, while his EU colleagues will smile cynically to themselves. Then various Declarations will be given – to meet Irish concerns on company taxation, human rights, neutrality etc. – which will be tagged on to the Lisbon Treaty, but wll not alter a jot or tittle of its contents.

What threats or implicit threats will be needed to go with these promises? The most obvious one is that Irish voters will be told, as they were not told over the past months – that the Lisbon Treaty aims to establish a constitutionally new Federal Union and that the Irish must decide whether they want to be members of this or not, or do they want to keep the present EU as it stands under the Nice Treaty rules.

The other Member States still cannot ratify Lisbon and establish this new Union without Ireland’s agreement. But the hope will be that this mix of promises and implicit threats will suffice to overturn the Irish people’s No in Lisbon One and turn it into a Yes in Lisbon Two.

A peaceable democratic popular revolt in Ireland and across the EU is needed to prevent this happening and to prevent the anti-democratic Lisbon Treaty-cum EU-Constitution being clamped on most of the peoples of our continent.

– Anthony Coughlan

(Secretary)

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