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Daily Rant 1

An outsider's view

Why does a German guy who lives in Brussels comment on the Irish referendum from Dublin?

Answer to the No-siders:
Sorry, but your vote also affects my life, wherever I live in the EU. We tried hard to get referendums in other EU member states, but eventually you're the only ones who will have a say on this treaty.

Answer to the yes-siders:
If you are in favour of Lisbon you are voting for more interference from bigger countries, for more harmonisation across the EU and less influence of small states. So you better get used to listening and learning from the big guys.

Yours

Thomas Rupp

co-ordinator
European Referendum Campaign

thomas(at)erc2.org


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Where's the beef? I only see chicken.

Dublin, 4 June 2008

 

Last Wednesday I arrived in Dublin, and I learned a lot during my short stay. For example I learned that according to the yes-campaigners the Lisbon Treaty only has advantages. Therefore one must be either completely stupid, an extremist or a xenophobe  to vote no. This is the general picture you get when you read through the newspapers and watch TV.

On the one hand the yes-campaign claims between the lines that the no-side is driven by bad intentions and base motives. On the other hand they fear real debate which sticks to the actual text of the treaty. Generally the yes-arguments are not much more than platitudes. Lisbon is good for Europe, good for Ireland, good for business, good for the people and good for democracy. Just vote “yes” and everything is going to be just fine!

What makes me suspicious is that this cure-all obviously has no flaws except perhaps that it does not provide for even more European integration. But, dear reader, if you follow the EU's development since Maastricht in 1992 you will come to the conclusion, that its next steps may already be laying in a drawer in Brussels, Berlin or Paris.

I recently watched “The week in politics” with a Dutch guy who working in Dublin. You should have seen him. He went berserk. How can you sell the Lisbon Treaty as a “revolutionary step forward in terms of democracy” as Dick Roche called it a number of times during his speech to the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny if it is build on the denial of a democratic verdict of the French and Dutch people? The Dutchman voted no in the referendum three years ago and today is full of contempt towards the political elites and filled with bitterness because the Dutch vote was just trashed into the bin.

Now if you insist, that Mr Roche explain to you the details of his statement, he will have to name the articles in the Treaty which are going to cause this revolution. Which in the end boil down to protocol 2 to the Treaty and articles 6, 7, 8. Here you will see, that what he calls a revolution of democracy is in fact a humiliation of the national parliaments (please read the case here). Here the real debate would start. Here he would have to fight for his “better” argument. But unfortunately this is yet to happen in the debates surrounding this Irish referendum.

Instead of facing a real debate the yes-side is patronizing the no-people, as Mr Roche said: “I am at a loss to understand how people who profess to have an interest in democracy can suggest the treaty does anything other than make the largest historical step in the history of the European Union in extending the democracy in the Union." - Strong words Mr Roche, but where's the beef? I only see chicken.

Many citizens feel bitter not so much because the political elite has been betraying them (for many that is what they expect anyway) but rather because the way it is being done. This betrayal  insults the intelligence of the average citizen who knows only a fraction less about the treaty than the politicians themselves. Irish EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy and the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, didn't even bother to read the treaty. One could imagine Mr Cowen – if he were an ordinary citizen – shouting to his Taoiseach in his characteristic way: “What the **** are we paying you for?”

I myself did not read the Treaty from cover to cover, however firstly I am not a PM who wants to sell it to my electorate, secondly I do know the bits that are important for me and thirdly, as a German I first have to fight for my right to have a vote before I can really get to grips with the treaty. Together with 80 million other Germans who, even if 80% wanted it, have been denied a referendum as well as 486 million other European citizens. Truly a revolution of democracy!

 

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