Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Lisbon Treaty - Coronation?

Last week we had Joe Higgins and Joe Costello attend DCU to give a chat on the Lisbon Treaty due to the upcoming referendum here in Ireland.

I refer to it as a chat because the substance was lacking. At no time would one have been fooled into calling this a debate. I have spoken out before in previous postings with regards to the EU Constitution in it's current form but I should clarify my own personal stance. I do support the idea of a Europe based on the United States of America model. A series of states coming under the banner of a "Federal European Union", and this treaty does take us a good way down this road. Giving the EU substantial influence over public goods, a full-time President and Foreign Minister. I guess we will see another treaty within a few years adding on the aspects which were dropped from the EU Constitution, if not more.

But what of the debate? Well, my annoyance came from any real attempt to address the widespread democratic deficit within the EU. Though it was alluded to on several occasions people tended to concentrate on the idea of an EU armed forces. I have little issue with that aspect. My main concern is the fundamental problem that citizens are simply not involved in this process. In fact from listening to the speakers I was convinced that they have confused the terms EU Citizens with EU "Customers", as the 500 million citizens within the EU only seem to count in relation to economic affairs.

Hence my concern. With an EU centralising more power with each treaty and states prepared to yield their sovereign power recognising it is in their best long term interest it seems that the people uninvolved in this process are the 500 million EU 'customers'. The governments have managed to dance around the issue of having any more referendums as the minorities that do come out to vote in EU matters will most likely shoot this down at some stage. Yet with Ireland being the only EU state to hold a treat with can feel the 'peer' pressure upon us to not let the side down.

But here is the crunch? Do we do what is best for the EU or do we do what is in the best interest of the EU citizens? This is Ireland's chance to decide which is of greater importance.

By undermining democracy and pushing forward with these required reforms we are denying the average citizen the right to be involved in deciding their future and the EUs place in the global order. As I stated, I back the idea of creating a stronger, more flexible and secure EU. But not at the expense of right to choose...or as the ERC would say "right to decide". It will be a sad day when EU citizens wake up and find themselves within a Federal State that they did not want or be involved creating. If the USA history is anything to go by, even democratic countries can risk ripping themselves apart.

More true then ever: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote" - Benjamin Franklin, 1759