Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More information from Ireland

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Anthony Coughlin of The National Platform, that has been fighting European integration for many a long year.

It consisted of various matters, particularly a response to what he rightly calls the misleading nature of the question asked in the Irish Times opinion poll.

Any Lisbon referendum re-run must be on exactly the same Lisbon Treaty as the Irish people voted No to last June.

This crucial fact is concealed or glossed over in today's Irish Times poll and in Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin's comments on it.

Not a jot or tittle - not a comma - of the text of Lisbon can be changed, for otherwise it would be legally a new Treaty which would have to go around all 27 EU States for ratification again.

The Declarations referred to in the Opinon Poll question are different from Protocols in that they are not legally part of a Treaty. Declarations are political statements made by one State or several. They are not international agreements between States which are legally binding on them.

Protocols are legally part of a Treaty. There will be no Protocols for Ireland over Lisbon, for that would be to reopen the Lisbon Treaty and would require all 27 EU States to ratify the new Protocol, which would in effect be a new Treaty.

A Declaration or political commitment that every Member State would keep a national Commissioner under Lisbon does not require any change in the Lisbon Treaty, for the existing Lisbon text(Art.17.5 amended TEU) allows the 27 Member States to agree to such a step unanimously in 2014, if they decide at that time not to reduce the Commission by one-third, which Lisbon otherwise envisages.

Contrary to what the Irish Times poll misleadingly asked its interview sample, Lisbon does not need to be "modified" or changed in the slightest for these Declarations to be made or for a political commitment to be given that each EU State will keep one of its nationals on the EU Commission

What a less misleading Irish Times poll question would have been:

Today's Irish Times opinion poll question was this: "If the Lisbon Treaty is modified to allow Ireland to retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation are clarified in special declarations, would you vote Yes or No in another referendum?"

A Treaty modification is a Treaty change. Contrary to what the Irish Times question implies, Lisbon cannot be "modified" in any way, for any modification of the Treaty text would make it legally a new Treaty and different from the Lisbon Treaty which most EU States have already ratified, so that the whole ratification process would have to start again from scratch.

A more accurate and less misleading way of putting the opinion poll question would have been: "If the Lisbon Treaty is left legally unchanged but is accompanied by a promise that Ireland could retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation are clarified in non-legally binding Declarations, would you vote Yes or No?"

That question very likely would have given a rather different result.

The Irish Times opinion poll asked a leading question therefore, which was designed to give respondents the impression that Lisbon would be changed to take Ireland's concerns into account, when that would not and cannot be done, short of abandoning the Treaty altogether and working out a
better one.

Not modifying the Lisbon Treaty,but modifying its presentation for a Lisbon Two:

Talk of "modifying" the Lisbon Treaty in the context of this opinion poll question is therefore to use a weasel-word. What Messrs Cowen and Martin envisage for Lisbon Two is not that the Lisbon Treaty would be modified, but that the presentation of it would be!

Lisbon Two would be presented differently from Lisbon One by means of these non-binding political Declarations and an accompanying political promise from the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents that every EU State can keep a Commissioner under Lisbon when in practical terms the same can happen under the Nice Treaty which currently rules in the EU.

This Irish Times opinion poll, like the profoundly flawed "research" on why people voted as they did in last June's referendum which the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs commissioned over a month after the result, will contribute to the elaborate scheme of deception of the Irish people that is currently being planned by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin and Iveagh House.

For they have not "respected" the Lisbon referendum result by acting upon the people's democratic vote, despite their endlessly reiterated claims that they do respect it. If they respected the people's decision they would have told the other EU States last June that Ireland could not and would not be ratifying the Treaty, in which case it could not come into force
for anyone and the other States would have ceased their ratifications after a while, for there would have been no point in their continuing.

Instead Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said on RTE while the votes were still being counted on 13 June last that "of course" the ratifications by other States would continue. Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the same thing to Commission President Barroso on the phone even before the
referendum result was officially announced. Iveagh House has been planning a referendum re-run from the moment the tallies showed how the vote was going on the very morning of the count.

The Declarations envisaged as accompanying Lisbon Two will naturally be "solemn" and the political promise about everyone keeping a member on the European Commission will be clear - even though that can effectively be done under the present Nice Treaty also.

The hope is however that decorating the Lisbon Treaty with political cap and bells in this way will be sufficient to deceive the Irish public and media into thinking that the Lisbon Treaty of
next October - the most likely date for a re-run - will be different from the Lisbon Treaty of last June, when not a comma of the Treaty will be changed.

It will be exactly the same bad Treaty, which is not in Ireland's interest or Europe's interest and which the peoples of Europe do not want. The Lisbon Treaty and the Constitution of a profoundly undemocratic supranational European Federation which it embodies has now effectively been rejected in three national referendums - in France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

And so a year of mendacity and deception, of waste of time and energy by key elements of Ireland's political class, and abuse and misrepresentation of No-side campaigners, is being prepared by Messrs Cowen and Martin and Iveagh House and those who agree with the course of folly they seem bent on.

The statement goes on to note that Ireland has already made a declaration of neutrality in 2002 and to the general ignorance of the media. RTE, for instance, seems unable to tell the difference between a codicil, a declaration or a protocol.

Well, if there is one thing we have learnt over the years is that the media is not going to bother to find out the truth if it can get away with glib statements that have the sort of appeal they like.


ascotinlessables said...

Helen, the real problem is that the Treaty will be voted on again by the Irish as many time as it takes to get the result that is required. No amount of dancing around will ever change that. Very sad but unfortunately very true.

Helen said...

It would be rather good, though, if the Irish voted no another couple of times, thus making the whole process ever more ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Helen for clarifying for me that a modification of Lisbon would legally render the Lisbon Treaty null and void and would mean that all member states would have to ratify a new treaty again.As a no voter last June I will be saying no again and again against the profundly undemocratic European superstate.