“Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly . . . All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.” V.Giscard D’Estaing*, Le Monde, June 14, 2007
Irish voters delivered a knockout punch to European elites and corporatists last Friday by rejecting plans for an EU Superstate.
The so-called Lisbon Treaty was nothing more than a dolled-up version of the failed European Constitution that was defeated by French and Dutch voters in 2005. The treaty was loaded with the typical “democratic” gobbledygook to conceal the vicious neoliberal policies at its heart. If it had passed, the treaty would have paved the way for greater privatization of public services, diminished workers rights, less state control over trade policies and civil liberties, and an aggressive plan to militarize Europe.
Ireland’s entire political and corporate class stood solidly behind the treaty, but the Irish people shrugged off the fear-mongering and bogus promises of prosperity and voted No. The referendum results showed 53.4 percent voted No, while 46.6 percent voted Yes. Despite the massive public relations campaign; the vote was not even that close.
A spokesperson for the No campaign put it like this: “The Irish people have spoken. Contrary to the predictions of social and political turmoil, we believe that hundreds of millions of people across Europe will welcome the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. This vote shows the gulf that exists between the politicians and the elites of Europe, and the opinions of the people. As in France and the Netherlands, the political leaders and the establishment have done everything they could to push this through – and they have failed. The proposals to further reduce democracy, to militarize the EU and to let private business take over public services have been rejected. Lisbon is dead. Along with the EU Constitution from which it came, it should now be buried.” [Socialist Worker online]
Europe’s political class tried to ratify the treaty via a stealth campaign which intentionally obscured the implications of the new regime that would be put in place. Former Irish Taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald*, summed it up like this in the Irish Times on June 30, 2007: ”The most striklng change [between the EU Constitution in its older and newer version] is perhaps that in order to enable some governments to reassure their electorates that the changes will have no constitutional implications, the idea of a new and simpler treaty containing all the provisions governing the Union has now been dropped in favour of a huge series of individual amendments to two existing treaties. Virtual incomprehensibilty has thus replaced simplicity as the key approach to EU reform. As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.”
Hmmm. In other words, European policymakers figured the only way they could pass the pro-business treaty was to make it as unreadable as possible. It’s no wonder, too. According to multiple sources, the treaty contains language that would restore the death penalty and override national decision making on critical issues. So much for sovereignty!
The observations of blogger Paul from Dublin seemed to epitomize the feelings of a great number of people who expressed deep suspicions over the agenda behind the treaty: “I am also deeply concerned at the direction the EU is going. Whereas it seemed originally to be an idealistic and benevolent project for Europe, accentuating all that was best about Europe, in recent times it seems to have fallen into the hands of the globalist gangster capitalist cabal of neo-liberals, following the US philosophy of every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.
“I also discovered some very sinister organisations none of which the mainstream media informed us about. Organisations such as the Transatlantic Economic Council, the Transatlantic Policy Network & the Streit Council which seeks a union between the US and Europe, and whose agenda is clearly a political as well as an economic union. In the fall 2007 journal of that body, a world bank economist said that you could not have economic integration without political integration.”
Whether Paul is right to be skeptical or not is beside the point. The truth is that many Europeans think that the EU no longer operates in the best interests of the people. Clearly, this had a dramatic affect on the election’s results.
News of the defeat has not been well received in England where the neoliberal government of Gordon Brown has already indicated that it will reject the election results and “press ahead” in an effort to ratify the treaty. Neither Brown nor his friends in Brussels are likely to be deterred by anything as trivial as the will of the people. Labour MP and former Europe Minister Denis MacShane summed it up like this: “I personally think that a vote in a foreign country should not determine the democratic decisions taken in the British Parliament.”
MacShane’s view is apparently shared by EC President Jose Manuel Barroso who said that EU member states should continue ratifying the Lisbon treaty, even though more than half of Ireland’s 43 constituencies rejected it outright. So much for democracy.
Also, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement Friday saying they hoped the remaining countries would continue the ratification process: “We are convinced that the reforms contained in the treaty of Lisbon are necessary to make Europe more democratic and more efficient.”
The No vote makes matters particularly difficult for Sarkozy who is scheduled to take over the EU’s rotating presidency next month and was hoping to beef up Europe’s military capability while making big changes to the EU’s immigration policies. The failed referendum will derail the French president’s plans to play a bigger role in the war on terror or to help out in security operations in Afghanistan, Africa or Asia. In the final analysis, the No vote will hurt Washington as much as Euro-elites who were hoping for a blank check for more “free market” looting and foreign adventurism.
BRUSSELS PLAN: “Quarantine the Irish”
According to the UK Guardian: “Germany and France moved to isolate Ireland in the European Union yesterday, scrambling for ways to resuscitate the Lisbon Treaty a day after the Irish dealt the architects of the EU’s new regime a crushing blow.Refusing to take Ireland’s ‘no’ for an answer, politicians in Berlin and Paris prepared for a crucial EU summit in Brussels this week by trying to ringfence the Irish while demanding that the treaty be ratified by the rest of the EU.
The Franco-German plan is to get all 27 EU states to ratify the treaty as soon as possible, to quarantine the Irish and then come up with some legal maneuver enabling the treaty to go ahead.
‘We’re sticking firmly to our goal of putting this treaty into effect,’ said the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. ‘So the process of ratification must continue.’
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who devoted most of last year to getting the EU’s members to agree on the Lisbon Treaty after the failure of the EU’s proposed new constitution in 2005, said: ‘We must carry on.’” (EU tries to isolate Irish after Treaty rejection, UK Guardian)
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH
The Irish have plenty to celebrate today. They’ve thrown a spanner in the plans of the bankers and corporate mandarins who want to replace representative government and national sovereignty with their own skewed vision of Capitalist Valhalla; a Euro-Utopia where short-term profits always take priority over the needs of ordinary people.