Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

Time to Move On from Lisbon


The repercussions of the Irish referendum continue and everyone is bemused as to what to do next. The Economist suggests the best course is now is for the EU to 'bury' the treaty and carry on as before. For those like me who feel the growth of internationalism
is one of the few hopes for the future of the world, this is disappointing but sometimes political options are so limited that the best way forward has to be the 'least bad' one.

1. Putting pressure on Ireland to retake their referendum will not work: it will induce rage in the Irish voter as opposed to the mere irritation which caused the 'no' vote.

2. Making concessions to the Irish- like allowing them a commissioner- is unlikely to produce the desired 'yes' either. The Irish voter said 'no' for all kinds of reasons uncxonnected with the treaty and more to do with: views on the EU as a whole; the current declining state of the Irish economy; the standing of Brian Cowens' new administration; and assorted myths based on misinformation regarding Irish laws on abortion and its traditional position of neutrality.


3. Closing ranks and allowing an 'inner core' to emerge will create all kinds of problems including the probable allocation of the UK eventually to the 'outer' group.

4. Unpicking the Lisbon Treaty must be a non starter given that it took seven years to negotiate; this is just one of the reasons why the result is so hard to understand and easy to misinterpret. There is no appetite for such a long and winding road to be taken yet again.

5. Leaving things as they are is probably the only option available and the best one. As The Economist points out, the EU is still operating as before. Maybe Lisbon would have speeded up decisionmaking but democracy takes time and 27 nations will perforce, be slow in nudging their way to consensus.

If certain things need to be altered- the weightings for national voting in the Council might be one- then maybe they can be dealt with individually and without any major 'constitutional' alterations.

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