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.
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…