Posted by: musiclovesfashion | June 11, 2008

Lisbon locked

So, just hours to go and Eoghan and I are still undecided on how to vote.

Generally speaking, I am leaning towards Yes and Eoghan is leaning towards No. But we are both swinging in the breeze, we could go either way, given some clear answers (and maybe some tea and biscuits).

Here’s what we’ve both been having trouble with. (All pullquotes taken from Referendum Commmission’s site.)

Reducing the number of Commissioners on the European Commission.

“If the Treaty comes into force then two-thirds of the Member States will nominate a Commissioner in 2014. There are 27 Member States at present. So, if the number of Member States remains the same, there will be 18 Commissioners in the period 2014 – 2019.”

So that’s cutting 27 commissioners down to 18. But by whom and why was it decided that 27 commissioners is too many in the first place?

Our concerns: The European Commission comes up with ideas for new legislation; it monitors the implementation by member states of pre-decided EU law. If all you get to do is make simple decisions at the end of a process (because you weren’t there when it was first proposed), you lose some measure of control.

Qualified Majority Voting (QMV).

At present, QMV applies to decisions on a wide range of issues including agriculture, competition rules, consumer protection, environment and judicial co-operation in civil matters. It is proposed to apply QMV to a number of new areas – these include energy, asylum, immigration, judicial co-operation in criminal matters and sport.

Grand so. But what about this:

The Lisbon Treaty also proposes to give the European Council the power to amend the Treaties so as to allow Qualified Majority Voting to operate in certain areas where unanimity is now required.

So basically, this treaty includes specific new areas that QMV is now going to apply to, that it didn’t before. OK. However, it does grant the Council (heads of Government) the power to decide themselves, at a later date, to move a specific area from unanimity to QMV.

Our concerns: Well, to us, it seems one weak government, one weak Irish voice at the council table, could result in QMV being brought in on an issue where we would be prefer unanimity on. And, as far as we can see, there is no going back from that. There is no provision within the treaty to allow for reversal to those decisions. It’s a one-way street.

Confused dot com!

The one thing everyone seems to agree on, is that the actual treaty is confusing and impenetrable. The Yes and No sides are completely contradicting each other, making it incredibly difficult to come to a decision based solely on your opinion. So it comes down to this: Who do you trust, who do you believe? If you voted in the general election, you might be inclined to trust the party you voted for.

In my case (Nathalie here), the Greens. But where they hell are they? Completely conflicted. I haven’t seen them. They’re not actively campaigning and, as far as I can tell, there are no Green posters about. Sure, for the purposes of coalition, it seems they have offered nominal support and hoped the whole thing just go away. But when the people you voted into government can’t come to a decision, it makes your job that bit more difficult and frustrating.

And finally…

What happens if we vote no? Why won’t nobody answer this? I’ve heard a lot of “there is no plan B”. What’s all this about us being marginalised? What does that actually mean?

We completely recognise the positive aspects of the Treaty, but the above issues are sticking points; things we are confused about and issues we are having trouble finding clear answers on.

Ah, maybe we’ll just Rock, Paper, Scissors it…

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Responses

  1. Vote no. The Treaty is 95% the same as the EU Constitution rejected in France and Holland so it’s undemocratic to force it on them. Under Nice we have a veto on any reduction in the size of the Commission – we can negotiate a better deal keeping our Commissioner or at least more often than under Lisbon. EU Tax Commissioner Laslo Kovacs has repeatedly said he wants to get around the Irish veto on tax by using Enhanced Cooperation, allowing him to pas it via 9+ member state govts agreeing to it. The plan is known as CCCTB (common consolidated corporate tax base) and it would force companies in the EU to pay their taxes to the govts of the countries they sell in, rather than where the company is based. Because 90% of what Ireland produces is exported, this would lose the Irish govt billions in tax revenues.

    Ireland’s vote on the Council of Ministers is halved while Germany’s is doubled. Article 48 has a ‘simplified ratification process’ allowing the govt to assent to future EU treaty-changes without referenda. Article 28a signs us up to a mutual-defence pact, while the Charter of Fundamental Rights will allow the ECJ to overrule the Irish Supreme Court on issues like asylum and industrial relations. Vote no.

  2. Vote no ! Please !

    I beg you. FutureTaoiseach is right. I am French. I voted “no” so as more than 55% of my people, mainly beacause of social issues. We didn’t fear the voice of France should be lowered but we knew that the people’s voice should be neglected.
    The members of parliaments and the Ministers who wrote the treaty were not elected for that. They did not told us what they would negociate. Most of them, members of the European commission were not even elected.
    In 2005, we said “no”.
    Our President, Nicolas Sarkozy told us last year he would negociate a “simplified treaty”. You tried to read it. You saw that it was not simplified at all. The new one is almost the same than the old one but it is even more complicated to understand and read it. A cityzen have to know how his life is ruled. This a minimum.
    As he knew that we would vote “no” one more time, he refused to make a new referendum.
    This new treaty don’t really increase the democratization of institutions allowing the Europeans to be better listened, and decide themselves of their future.
    Over taxs, social or military reason to vote “no”, the main reason, the european-friendly reason to vote “no”, is the democratc gap between cityzens and European institutions.

    Sorry for my langage faults.
    You, the Irish people are our last hope.

  3. Please Vote No. If we get into this thing now it will be virtually impossible to get out of.

  4. All I can say Nathalie is if you were this unsure about a legal document, would you sign it? Say a mortgage agreement that would be a part of your life for 30 years or so? No? Me neither. This is more important than that legal document. Much more. It doesn’t just affect Ireland, but every SOVEREIGN nation in Europe!

    That’s all I’m gonna say! 🙂

  5. Seems like it’s going to be an Irish NO to this contract. The other day on the news they said that in this case the EU will plunge into another crisis. Whatever that means… don’t they say something like this all the time?
    Btw, we here in Austria didn’t have the chance to vote on this…


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