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EU referendum: The Luck of the Irish

(2008-06-11 20:30:11)


分类: 英文
June 11, 2008

EU referendum: The Luck of the Irish

The Irish should vote to free us all from the Lisbon Treaty and the loss of sovereignty it represents

Oh, for the luck of the Irish. They are the only people in Europe to have a vote on the future of the European Union. That is thanks to their Constitution, not their leaders. Until recently the Irish Establishment had assumed that its citizens would rubber-stamp the Lisbon treaty, the repackaged EU constitution. Now, in the face of a formidable “no” campaign, it is trying to scare them into doing so. That tomorrow's poll is too close to call, in a country that has benefited so much from EU largesse, is a measure of how wrong-headed the whole process has been.

The Irish “no” coalition is a ragbag that includes Sinn Fein, pro-life campaigners and business executives. Like the French and Dutch rejections of the EU constitution in 2003, an Irish “no” vote would have its own parochial dimension. But that would not undermine its legitimacy. Most of those planning to vote “no” tomorrow have one thing in common: they do not trust a treaty that they do not understand. They show a good deal more common sense than the politicians.

The lack of clarity should make it impossible for any country to sign this document. It is a piece of deliberate obfuscation by technocrats who wish to proceed with a considerable erosion of national sovereignty under a smokescreen of “tidying up”. As a result of its vague wording, the treaty is dangerously ambiguous. Countries which imagine that they have negotiated opt-outs from unpopular bits risk finding out in years to come that the European Court of Justice takes a different view.

The “yes” camp argues that the Lisbon treaty is essential to the smooth functioning of the EU after enlargement, and that a rejection will throw the institutions into “chaos”. But the European Union is not paralysed. In the past year alone, 177 EU directives have passed into British law.

It is equally disingenuous to portray the treaty as a purely administrative exercise to cope with enlargement. A change in voting weights is an inevitable consequences of the arrival of new members, although small states such as Ireland stand to lose out disproportionately from that, and from the reduction in commissioners. But enlargement is no justification for the proposed removal of more than 40 vetoes in areas ranging from “economic co-ordination” to energy policy. The Lisbon treaty would give the European Court of Justice jurisdiction over crime and justice matters for the first time. It would make the EU a legal personality, able to sign treaties in its own right. Through a self-amending clause it would allow ministers to abolish national vetoes without any further treaty, and so without ratification by national parliaments or referendums. It is anti-democratic at its very core.

These changes, and others, would dramatically alter the powers of member states. Politicians hold these powers in trust for the people. They are not theirs to give away by executive order. Gordon Brown was wrong to insist that Labour's manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the EU constitution did not apply to the Lisbon treaty. He has wilfully ignored the evidence of two select committees that the two documents were substantially similar.

The Lisbon treaty does nothing about EU corruption and waste, which have returned to centre stage this week. It does nothing about the EU's notorious farm subsidies. It enshrines, rather than bridges, the gulf between the public and the elite. Brian Cowen, the Irish Prime Minister, has implied that an Irish “no” vote would be a vote to “disengage” from Europe. That is disingenuous. An Irish “no” would signal that the elites must go back to the drawing board. Deprived of our own vote, we must pin our hopes on Ireland to speak for all of us.


  爱尔兰的“说不”联盟是一个杂烩,包括新芬党(Sinn Fein),反堕胎运动家和商界人士。和法国及荷兰2003年拒绝欧盟宪法一样,爱尔兰“说不”有其狭隘性。但这无损于它的合法性。大多数打算“说不”的人有一个共同点:他们不会信任一个他们并不了解的条约。他们展示的常识出比政治家多得多。

  缺乏明确性这一点让任何国家都不可能签署这份文件。它是技术官僚蓄意制造的混乱,那些技术官僚希望在“整理(tidying up)”的烟幕下大大削弱国家主权。由于用词含糊,该条约危险地模棱两可。


  把该条约描述成应对欧盟扩张的、纯粹的行政做法也同样危险。新成员加入,投票权重必然改变。但扩张并不能成为取消从经济合作到能源政策等超过40个领域的否决权的理由。里斯本条约将让欧洲法院(European Court of Justice)首次获得犯罪与司法问题的权限。赋予欧盟法人资格,可以凭借自身的权利签署条约。它将通过自我修正的条款,允许部长们取消国家否决,而无须更多条约,无须国家议会或公投的批准。其核心是反民主。


  里斯本条约没有提到欧盟的腐败与浪费。它没有提到欧盟声名狼藉的农业津贴。它凸显公众与精英之间的沟壑,而不是充当桥梁。爱尔兰总理科恩(Brian Cowen)已经暗示爱尔兰的否决票相当于支持“脱离”欧洲。那是狡猾的说法。爱尔兰“说不”将表明精英必须重新筹划。我们自己的表决权被剥夺了,我们只能寄望于爱尔兰为我们所有人发言。


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