Several weeks have passed since Irish voters dealt a knockout blow to the new EU reform treaty, and it seems Europe’s leaders are still in shock. Ireland is the only EU member whose constitution required a referendum on the treaty. The Irish voters chose to reject the treaty, a move which stunned and embarrassed Europe’s leaders. As a result, the European Union is scrambling to find a way to revive the Treaty of Lisbon.
In December of last year Europe’s leaders signed the Treaty of Lisbon, also commonly called the EU reform treaty. The Treaty of Lisbon is essentially a repackaging of the failed EU constitutional treaty – which was overwhelmingly defeated by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Critics say the bulk of the document remains unchanged, it is 90 percent the same as the former constitutional treaty. What is gone is the term “constitution”. Because it is not technically a constitution, government leaders can ratify the treaty without submitting it to national referendums. The idea was that by taking away the people’s chance to vote on the treaty, it had a better chance of survival.
For many Europeans the EU constitution represents a loss of sovereignty and national identity. Which is one of the primary reasons why voters rejected the constitution in the first place. The Treaty of Lisbon was scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2009, but it cannot be implemented unless approved by all 27 EU states. So far national parliaments in 19 countries have voted to ratify the treaty. However the Irish “no” vote has made Europe’s future somewhat uncertain.
What Happens Next?
Despite this setback, the Treaty of Lisbon may still one day become the law of the land. Many of Europe’s leaders are already plotting ways to get around the Irish vote. Rather than respect the will of the people, Europe’s leaders seem determined to get their way. Some have even suggested making Ireland vote again, and perhaps the second time around they will come back with the “right” answer. If that doesn’t work, Ireland may be forced to leave the EU, or perhaps the bureaucrats in Brussels will simply find even more subtle and creative ways to implement changes and consolidate power.
It is interesting to note that a survey of 2,000 Irish “no” voters found the main reason they rejected the Treaty was that they did not understand it. Which is ironic, because the treaty was not meant to be understood. In a sense, Europe’s leaders shot themselves in the foot. The Treaty of Lisbon is long and complex. It is written in highly technical legal jargon that has proved difficult even for experts to understand, much less the general public. According to Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, the treaty is confusing by design: “They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me.” It is also important to note that, because of the failure of the Treaty of Lisbon, accession talks with Croatia and Turkey will most likely be put on hold.
To learn more about the rise of the European Superstate, click on the links below.Related Links:
• Polish President Deals Blow to EU Treaty – AP
• Summit On Troubled Treaty Leaves Onus On Ireland – RFE
• Ireland Rejects EU treaty – Daily Times
• Strategic Trends: Rise of the European Superstate – Koinonia House