Slouching towards Lisbon

The Irish Republic is set to vote on the Lisbon treaty for a second time later this year. In order to counter the No camp that argues on the negative impact ratification would have in matters of national defence, taxation and abortion, it’s time, argues Peter Murtagh of the Irish Times, to separate EU fact from EU fiction.

Published on 22 June 2009 at 14:14
Posters from the Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign, 2008

“We are, it seems, on the last lap of the tiresome – but extraordinarily important – saga that is the Lisbon Treaty’s circuitous route to ratification by Ireland,’ writes Peter Murtagh, quite infuriated that in rejecting the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008, the seemingly “mature, clever” nation that is Ireland, “made a spectacle” of itself. An endorsement of the treaty, he reminds us, never threatened emotional national laws regarding neutrality, abortion (illegal in Ireland), or even taxation. That the European Council has had to make formally empty concessions on these matters will have no effect, however, on “the antis who are pumping out rejectionist statements,” he warns. The No side, he argues is but “disparate groups with hugely overlapping memberships”, leading him to wonder whether this group, whose “noise levels are disproportionate to the number of people involved” represent the majority of the Irish people. “Time will tell”, he concludes, comforted by the fact that Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is launching www.eumatters.ie, as part of the “fight to separate EU fact from EU fiction.”

CONCESSIONS

Irish opens Pandora's Box

The introduction to the Treaty of Lisbon of extra guarantees for Ireland could be a Pandora’s box warns Mariusz Staniszewski in the Polska daily. Soon other member states will start queuing up with their own demands. Brussels has agreed to include in the treaty Ireland’s right to an independent tax policy, neutrality, and for the country to retain its restrictive anti-abortion law. Moreover, Ireland will delegate one commissioner to the European Commission. "Why shouldn’t the Czechs, the Dutch or the Poles demand similar concessions now?" the Polska commentator asks. EU officials pressing at all costs for a restaging of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty are only providing its opponents with ammunition, he argues. When the Irish protocols have been endorsed, the question as to whether this is the same document that the member states’ parliaments have ratified will be very much justified. A debate on this has already started in the Czech Republic and it may soon begin in other countries as well. "The question therefore emerges whether Poland should take advantage of the situation and bargain something extra for itself, or whether it should behave like a good European who dreams of a more efficient EU," concludes the Polska commentator.

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