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  • 9 June - Referendum campaign leaves muddied waters. Read more
  • 8 June - No vote will paralyse European elites. Read it
  • 6 June - Please do not believe in purgatory scenarios. Read it
  • 5 June - If in doubt: Follow your feelings! Read it
  • 4 June - Were's the beef? I only see chicken. Read it

Read the Daily Rant: an outsider's view on the Irish referendum


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Here we present the arguments for and against the Lisbon Treaty, from both the Yes Campaign and the No Campaign. Please click on one of the links below to the related argumentation.

General Arguments on Ratifying the Lisbon Treaty
Arguments on Democracy
Arguments on the Environment
Arguments on the Charter of Fundamental Rights
Arguments on Institutional Reform


We understand that there are also more arguments for and against the Treaty. We have decided to focus on the issues mentioned above.
Below you can find various campaigners on the Lisbon Treaty and their specific arguments either for or against the Treaty. For links to all the campaigns in Ireland please visit our links page.


For arguments on militarism go to:

Peace and Neutrality Alliance - PANA

For left-wing arguments against the treaty visit:
No 2 Lisbon Treaty
Camapaign Against the EU Constitution
voteno.ie

For left-wing arguments for the treaty visit:
The Labour Party

For right-wing arguments against the Treaty visit:
Libertas


General Arguments on
Ratifying the Treaty

Yes Arguments

No Arguments

Rejecting the Lisbon Treaty will isolate a country from the rest of the EU. Voting no is equal to turning your back on Europe.

Rejecting the treaty would not isolate a country. After the French and Dutch voters rejected the European Constitution they did not become isolated from EU politics nor were they left behind.

The Lisbon Treaty is essentially a reforming treaty which sets out to make the EU institutions in an enlarged EU more efficient, transparent and accountable.

The Lisbon Treaty is a revised copy of the European Constitution. 96% is the same. The EU is currently functioning and able to function under the terms of the Nice Treaty with all 27 member states.

Representative democracy and parliamentary ratification are just as democratic as direct democracy and referendum.

Representative democracy is as good as direct democracy, however citizens have the right to decide whether or not to adopt - what is essentially - a Constitution for Europe.

This treaty is too complex to be put to a referendum. Most people have neither the time nor the expertise to properly analyse the Treaty, therefore it should be ratified by political specialists.

Stating that the treaty is too complex to be put to referendum is a denial of democracy. If the people are unable to decide if their country should adopt a European Constitution, then how are they able to decide on which policies they prefer and therefore the party they should vote for in a general election? Therefore, should “specialists” then not decide who governs a country rather than the people? To deny people the right to vote on this constitution is to deny democracy. Additionally most MPs themselves are not fully equipped to properly understand the complexity of the Treaty, nor do they have the time to properly analyse it. Many MPs have not even read the Treaty.

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Arguments on Democracy

Yes Arguments

No Arguments

National Parliaments will have an enhanced role within EU legislative proposals, as the Commission has to inform national parliaments immediately of any of its new legislative proposals.

If directly elected national parliaments state that a proposal strays outside the competence of the EU, the non-elected Commission can then choose whether or not to maintain, amend or withdraw the proposal. This is a devaluation of national parliaments as the views of elected representatives, should be more important.

National Parliaments can give their opinion as to whether the proposal strays outside the competence of the EU, and can seek an amendment or outright rejection of the proposal. As a last resort they can also appeal to the European Court of Justice.

The Lisbon Treaty only changes the period of scrutinising legislation from six weeks to only eight, which is not nearly enough, to do the job properly. The majority of new laws in all member states come from the EU. In most member states there are only a small number of people from within the national parliament who scrutinise EU legislation. These people receive huge amounts of legislation which many are unable to fully analyse.

The concept of EU citizenship is developed within the Lisbon Treaty. For example the right of citizens to approach the European Court of Justice is broader.

The Lisbon Treaty would give more power to the EU institutions in more policy areas. The European Commission is the only body who has the right to initiate policy and there is no link between it and the citizens. The Lisbon Treaty does nothing to change this.

The European Citizens’ Initiative which has been placed in the treaty allows one million people representing 15 EU member states to initiate policy, through the right of initiative.

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) although a step in the right direction only gives citizens the right to ask the Commission to consider a policy proposal for initiation. The Commission does not have to accept the proposal. In addition, the petitions can only relate to the proper implementation of the treaties, and not to something citizens object to in the treaties. Furthermore why is a treaty needed to implement the ECI? If the EU really wanted to incorporate the initiative they could do so without the Lisbon Treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty is not self-amending. Article 48 is only intended to cover cases where minor adjustments are necessary and where all national parliaments are in agreement. Any proposed future change which confers new powers on the union will need to be ratified by all member states in accordance with the constitutional requirements of individual countries. In those areas where the treaty provides for, moving some policy areas from unanimity to majority voting or for extending the powers of the European Parliament to participate in the legislative process, there are effective veto rights for member states and national parliaments. Therefore there is an effective “double-lock” in place.

Various articles including Article 48 and Article 308 make the treaty self-amending i.e. they allow the European Council to extend the areas in which the EU can legislate and make major changes to the functioning of the EU by a qualified majority vote, and without the need for a new Treaty, and in the case of Ireland, without a referendum.

More policy areas will now fall under the co-decision procedure. This means that legislation must be approved by the European Parliament as well as the Council, for it to be adopted.

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Arguments on the Environment

Yes Arguments

No Arguments

More power needs to be transferred to the EU for problems which cannot be solved on the national level, for example environmental issues such as climate change.

Environment has been added as another competence for the EU; however the amendment to Article 174 does not empower the EU to do more for the environment than it already does at present.

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Arguments on the
Charter of Fundamental Rights

Yes Arguments

No Arguments

The Charter of Fundamental Rights adds a new level of protection to the rights of EU citizens. The charter includes a range of economic and social rights. This means that if a citizen feels that their rights are not being provided for by their country they can turn to the European Court of Justice for assistance.

The rights accorded by this charter are either weak or vague. The European Court of Justice will apply the Charter and is able to actually put limits on it in order to meet “objectives of general interest recognised by the union”. Therefore limits can be put on fundamental rights to uphold other freedoms in the treaties, as long as those limits are “proportional” to balance competing right. In the recent Vaxholm case the ECJ favoured the right to establish a profitable cross-border business (another “freedom” from the treaties) over the right to protect workers’ interests (a freedom set out by the Charter of Fundamental Rights). This shows that the way the Charter would be interpreted by the ECJ is conditional rather than fundamental.

European Court of Human Rights makes ruling based on the European Convention on Human Rights alone, and does not have to take into consideration other rights and freedoms of the EU treaties like the European Court of Justice. The ECHR is therefore stronger in its defence of human rights. The problem also lies in the fact that it is unclear which court would take precedence on human rights in the EU. The ECJ has legal rights but the ECHR does not.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is now incorporated in the treaty. It becomes legally binding and therefore gives the EU a common basis for the protection of human dignity.

Despite having legal force the charter does not make provisions for the monitoring of the application of human rights. Nor does it have any measures to impose sanctions where these rights are breached. This is in sharp contrast to EU powers to punish breaches of competition law.

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Arguments on Institutional Reform

Yes Arguments

No Arguments

The Lisbon Treaty gets rid of the one commissioner per country rule. Instead each country would only have a commissioner for five years every ten. The Commission holds a monopoly on proposing EU law and a country’s influence would be decreased during the ten year gap.

The Treaty shall create the position of European Council President which can be held for a period of thirty months. This will finally give the EU a single figure within the international arena for countries, institutions and people to identify as the face of the EU. The position has no decision-making powers.

A clear definition of the position of the European Council President will only be drawn up after all countries have ratified the treaty. Therefore the exact powers of the position are actually unknown.

The position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs (created by the Treaty) will give the EU a strong and single voice in world affairs, unlike the predicament running up to the Iraq invasion which led to the US dominating the situation and major divisions within the EU. Foreign policy is now implemented by the Representative for foreign Affairs and Security Policy but the budget is controlled by the Commissioner for External Affairs. These roles will now be merged creating greater coherence and unity.

The Lisbon Treaty will make decision-making in the EU faster, through the introduction of greater qualified majority voting.

The new procedure for qualified majority voting will ensure that the bigger countries cannot dominate the process or force smaller countries to accept policies they do not want. In order to obtain a majority there needs to be a majority of states representing a majority of the EU population. Unanimity is still required for decisions in sensitive areas.

The new procedure for qualified majority voting is similar to the old in that you need a majority of member states representing a majority of the EU’s population. Under the current system however the “big four” Germany, France, Italy and the UK get 8.4 percent each of the vote and Ireland has 2 percent. Under the Lisbon Treaty Germany would have 16.7 percent, France 12.8 percent, Italy 12 percent, the UK 12.3 per cent and Ireland would only get 0.8 percent of the vote.

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