Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Lisbon Treaty - Get Out & Vote


It is almost time to vote on the Lisbon Treaty, I will be voting against it but no matter what anyone else thinks please get out there and cast your vote.

As I have made clear before, I fully support the idea of an United States of Europe. This document is not the right step in that direction. This is a document which as far as I can tell from my reading of it just further shifts power to elites from an already disenfranchised European citizenship.

While I am annoyed every time the 'Yes' supporters tell us it heightens democracy. No it does not. Any legal document that say that your state will go without representation within the Commission just does not go hand-in-hand with the idea of democracy.

Yes, the EU will become much more militarised as neither the UK or France can afford to maintain their forces at current levels yet there is more need for them abroad then ever. The simple solution is to consolidate and have more EU rapid reaction forces which will be allowed under the treaty and France has already started work on, the French President will not announce until after the Irish Referendum Vote. The European arms industry has already been consolidated relatively successfully, but I do not think a European army will ever be as effective as its US counter part, for many practical reasons, but that is another debate.

This document will give the EU significant power over public goods (energy, security...etc) while one of the stated objectives is to combat climate change, at what cost or to what degree is not covered. Is this going to be in our best interests or will we suffer on the back on knee-jerk reactions?

OK, I have heard the NO campaign talk about losing control over taxation while the YES campaign say that a no vote would be bad for business. I do not buy either. What government you have sitting at the top at the end of the day has very little influence over the globalised free market we are part of. Yes they can make preparations for the bad times and try to lessen the pain, or simply spend the money that comes into the country but these are reactive measures to the free market. So try not to be lured in by these arguments, just look at the current credit crunch going on in the USA and how it has affected our markets, whatever we vote would not change our situation. Though personally I prefer the idea of looking to a national government responsible to local citizens for accountability.

While I also keep reading references to 'streamlining' democracy and many people around me are concerned by this. How do you streamline a democratic process without cutting aspects out? Democracy is a slow process, look at the US, we have watched for almost 2 years just to get nominations for the President. Meanwhile over here the Lisbon Treaty may allow rumours of Tony Blair's push to be the first full-time EU President come to fruition, the EU citizens would not get to vote on this position, just the elites. Is this what we want? A man who 'believed' going to war with the Middle East was the right thing and now has found a god! With a reduced say in the running of Europe how could this benefit Ireland, look at the recent Eurovision song contest as to the prevailing attitudes and blocks within parts of the EU, this would be a Europe where our influence is minimal at best.

Speaking of voting, bare in mind that at best an average of only 45% of the EU citizenship voted in the last round of elections. Yet countries demanding most influence within the EU have some of the lowest turnout rates when it comes to EU elections (Poland @ 20%, UK @ 39%, Germany & France tied at 43%). Is it no wonder that this is only being put to a referendum in Ireland and does this not show that this is a top-down driven reform? This should be a Europe built from the citizen up, why push on with reforms which are bureaucrat led?

In the end, for me I do not want to give up further national power to a body that is still finding its way...or at worst still an experiment. It has not worked hard enough to win our confidence in this institution, most people can not name there MEPs, let alone say how many we have...or how many will remain? I want the EU to get me excited by it, to make me proud of it, to get me actively involved in it, not just something we look for to fund projects and bring in daft health & safety regimes. A no vote might not be welcomed in Brussels, but it will be by the almost 495 million EU citizens that do not get a say in the matter.

I wish I could remain biased, but this is too important to us and our future. As the saying goes, why fix something if it is not broke? Then when it does break, replace it.

If nothing else, get out and vote!