Debating Ireland’s No Vote – German Style
Posted by rantingkraut on June 15, 2008
Die Welt, one of Germany’s leading broadsheets accompanies an article about Ireland’s No! vote on the ‘Lisbon Treaty’ with a short online poll. The question asked is: “What should the EU do if the Irish reject the Reforms?” The possible answers: 1. Exclude Ireland immediately, 2. Revise the Lisbon Treaty, 3. Continue the Reforms without Ireland, 4. Ask Ireland to vote again.” The possibility that there might be something fundamentally wrong with the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty is not even considered.
This way of reporting is symptomatic for the reaction of Germany’s press. There is a strong tendency to see the Irish as a cantankerous, ungrateful minority, holding up universally desired progress towards ever closer union. This is wrong on quite a few levels.
First of all, it is not clear why a nation which has accepted one particular treaty should also have to accept all subsequent ones. In the case of Ireland, this does clearly not follow from the general objective of ‘ever closer union’.
If anything, the rest of the EU can be said to have accepted an Irish veto on further integration a priori: by accepting membership of a state who requires a referendum for each constitutional amendment, the existing EC member states have implicitly accepted to be bound by such a referendum when further treaties require additional constitutional changes. If this situation had been regarded as unacceptable by existing members, they should have made elimination of the referendum requirement a precondition for Irish accession. They didn’t, so now they have to live with it.
The second point is of course, that the Constitution/Lisbon Treaty has previously been rejected whenever the people where asked. Isn’t it obvious, that if the French reject a Constitution for being too free market and the Irish reject it for fear of higher taxes that the Constitution/Treaty in question is not only universally disliked by the peoples of Europe, but also that the different electorates disagree what any further integration should aim to achieve? Isn’t it obvious then that even closer union is just not desirable?
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