Well here we are three years later and the countries of the European Union are once again voting. This time its for 287 pages of Eurocratic language called the Lisbon treaty. It has some things like a full-time EU president and a foreign-policy chief. But good luck parsing things.
Like this gem from the end of the Treaty of Lisbon:
This Decision shall enter into force on the date of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.
It took me awhile to parse this bit of EUbonics, but it says: When the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified, then this decision also goes into effect. I think that is what it means. But this is one of the big problems with this Treaty and the defunct 2005 Constitution, you need a lawyer to translate the blasted thing into your native tongue.
And people of Ireland have come to that conclusion also it seems.
The final straw, Dermot Gilmartin said, was seeing an official struggling on television to answer questions about the topic of the hour: the European Union's Lisbon treaty, on which Ireland will vote in a referendum Thursday. Challenged on a technical point, the official sputtered, frantically began rifling through his papers and fell silent. For two and a half minutes.
Only Ireland is having a popular referendum on Lisbon, the other 26 countries are running it through their parliaments. I think some people are afraid of a 2005 repeat. So 4.2 million citizens of Ireland could scupper a document meant to bind 500 million people closer to the EU. Naturally France is not taking this threat to their reconstituted house of cards lightly, France's Foreign Minister warned if Ireland votes 'No' it would be the Irish who would suffer. So Ireland you better fear Gallic retribution, they may toss croissants at you.
Another reason to vote no on this treaty is a real doozy. It disenfranchises countries in an unique way. Of the 27 countries presently in the EU, the rules of who sits on the European Commission under Lisbon are changed. Each country will sit on this Commission, just one-third of the time they wont sit on the commission. Operating on a 15 year cycle, countries like Ireland, France, UK, Norway, or Holland - for example - will sit on the commission for 10 of those 15 years. As a simile, it would be like the US Senate not seating 33 Senators for 2 years in a 6 year cycle.
The advocates say this treaty is a good deal for the countries of Europe, but when someone who is supposed to know the treaty can't answer a question after searching the treaty, there should be alarm bells that this is a bad treaty. When the language is as opaque as the verbiage found in the Lisbon treaty is, then vote no. When one of the articles in the treaty says a country cant sit on the powerful European Commission for 5 years out of 15 years, then vote no.
"The Irish seem instinctively inclined to listen to dissonant voices, to rebel against their own establishment and to scupper the best-laid plans of the Eurocrats," Fintan O'Toole
I hope Fintan O'Toole is correct and Lisbon is scuttled. Unfortunately the way Lisbon is worded and if I can correctly parse it, I am not a lawyer afterall, there seems to be ways of keeping it alive even after a no vote. In fact people are already talking of a post 'No' reality of offering Ireland opt-outs somewhat like what the United Kingdom already enjoys, can we say bribes? If the bribes fail; they are also speaking of sneaking in most of Lisbon via Accession Treaty where a popular vote is not required, just the country's parliament needs to vote 'Yes.' Irish politicians are already involved in secret meetings about the EU, hoping to keep these back room deals hidden from the Irish voters.
Bobby McDonagh, pleaded with his colleagues to keep the talks and Dublin's position confidential. "[We] have to remain cautious in presenting these issues referendum]!," the minutes record.Perhaps if the people of Ireland makes the bold move and vote 'No,' other countries will change their mind and hold popular referendums instead of trying to slip it through the various parliaments. Thursday will tell the tale of this latest chapter in the evolution of the European Common Market into something that is supposed to be a central government.