Foreign Affairs

The Mouse That Roared

The result of Ireland’s crucial vote on the “New Europe” Lisbon Treaty was announced on Friday the 13th.  The Irish said NO! despite a rare moment of consensus which saw all three of  Eire’s political parties campaigning for a YES vote.  From modest cajoling to guilt to dire warnings and outright threats, no ploy was left unplayed.   It didn’t work.

Brussels bureaucrats — who have been busy designing the European Union as a perpetual source of power and job security for themselves and future generations of political hacks – could scarcely believe it.  A mouse — albeit a mighty free-market-oriented one on the rise – had roared.  In denial, EU spokespeople kept saying that this was not the end; that their dream of empire had not been dealt a fatal blow. 

But the facts say otherwise.

This “new Europe” — version 5.0 — had a humble beginning in the post-WWII early 50’s as the innocent-enough European Steel and Coal Board.  This morphed into the European Economic Community, a broader free-trade-zone for the nascent European continental powers.  By the mid-80’s, with the edition of Great Britain, newer treaties created the European Community, expanding political as well as economic ties.  Finally, yet another treaty signed in Maastrecht in the early 90’s established the European Union, Mark IV version, the current model which has created the Euro, border-free movement and a rotating presidency hosted every 6 months by one of the now 27-strong EU member countries.

 But somewhere along the way, the EU ceased to represent the interests of its nations’ people as the desire for “ever closer union” was pushed by the unelected Eurocrats.  Back in 2005, an all-reaching “European Union Constitution” was proposed.  It would create a new EU President, Foreign Minister, army, and virtually veto-free bureaucracy to which all member states would be subservient.  It would supersede all the previous treaties. 

Unfortunately for the Eurocrats (but fortunately for European freedom), it was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands, resulting in other countries cancelling their scheduled ratification votes.  Undaunted by this initial rejection, the pro-EU forces took the core of the Constitution and using reconstructive surgery inserted the guts of the discredited treaty into the dozen existing treaties, reintroducing the document as “The Lisbon Reform Treaty”.

In this second go-round, Brussels opted to use the stealth factor.  This time, voters wouldn’t be allowed to have a say.  Only governments — acting directly — would approve the surrender of national governance to the EU.

If voters in the EU’s 27 member states would not affirm their massive bureaucratic plan for domination, then allowing people to vote at all would have to be removed as an obstacle.
Britain’s ruling Labour Party (under both Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown) had promised that there would be a citizen’s referendum on the Treaty, just as they had previously promised a vote on what became the failed Constitution.  Both promises were broken.  Instead, Gordon Brown snuck off to an EU meeting in Portugal last year and signed off on the “Reform Treaty” when he thought no one was looking.  

Such utter disregard for the wishes of the people has been cited as a sign that the once hallowed  British system of laws and rights is being systematically dismantled. So much for the Magna Carta.

The same process was at work in the other 17 countries which have also ratified the new Treaty without conducting popular votes.  This included France and the Netherlands — whose populations would not be permitted to make the same mistake twice.

By Sunday morning, June 15, Downing Street was awash with rumors. It was hinted that Gordon Brown was now inclined to “do a 180” and “sacrifice” the Lisbon Treaty, letting it collapse under its own dead weight. It was said he could see the pro and con Treaty forces pulling Europe into a two-tiered, or  two-speed,  economic system in Europe – one in which the UK would likely be relegated to the second tier.

The Irish have had a different and more turbulent history and are now on the other (brighter) side of their long dark tunnel of turmoil.

 Eire’s economy — the “Celtic tiger” — is booming.  The nation’s success is in large part due to its business-friendly taxes, which encourage corporations to locate there. This, in turn, has created significant numbers of new jobs and brought an eager generation of young people – from across Europe – into the Irish workforce. Contrast this to aging populations in decline – such as one finds in Germany. Their social programs will eventually run dry for lack of enough young people to fund the ongoing retirement load.  The Irish, a nation of well-educated young people, want no part of this socialist burden. 
Over the weekend, analysts, editorialists, and bloggers in the UK media reflected the views of their counterparts across Europe. 

Free-market conservatives like Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic declared the Treaty “finished”.  “Ratification cannot be continued,” he said, and. called the Irish vote “a victory of freedom and reason over artificial elitist projects and European Bureaucracy”. 

One repeatedly cited problem — from both pro and con sides — was that the 350-page plus Treaty was never properly explained to voters.  The result was that anti-Treaty factions were suspicious and pro-Treaty advocates claimed their agenda was not sufficiently articulated.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, went further, stating that the Lisbon treaty provisions could be implemented without Ireland — a slap in the face of democracy.
But on the other side, Emmanuel Bordez, of the Mouvement Pour La France Party said “People feel despised and cheated by their leaders,”

In an editorial, Italy’s Republica questioned: "Is it possible to reach 50 (the EU’s age) without knowing where you belong? Is it forbidden to investigate why?”

The Austrian Der Standard wrote: "The zero hour is bringing the chance of a new start. Brussels and the governments of EU-countries must finally understand that the citizens do not want an EU where everything is decided in Brussels.”

A summit of the current EU leaders convenes on this coming Thursday where they will be looking for “possible solutions to the crisis generated by the Irish no vote”.  French President Sarkozy , who will take over the rotating EU presidency next month, dismissed the Irish vote as but a “hiccup” that should “not become a political crisis”.

The implicit threat to real democracy is that the EU powers-that-be will continue to propose variations on an EU Constitution until they achieve their desired results — even if it means goose-steeping over the wishes of Europe’s 500 million people.  As one observer questioned, “What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand?”


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