I know I’ve got a bee in my bonnet but I’m very annoyed by the government’s advocacy of a yes vote in the lisbon treaty referendum. It’s not unusual for me to adopt an armchair politician’s posturing in response to the latest piece of governmental insanity that’s being inflicted on the Irish electorate but the Lisbon treaty is the single most important referendum we’ve had to consider in relation to our participation in the EU. (note to self, discover punctuation ;-))
What’s giving me ire (painful if you think about it) is the (in my opinion) misrepresentation of the treaty by ill-informed governmental spokespeople and FF politicos. This is compounded by calls for a No vote by some of the more marginalised and perhaps polarising organisations in the state. We’re not getting the debate on this we really deserve.
All I can offer is personal opinion based on what I’ve read in the treaty and commentary from both sides of the debate. These lean me strongly towards a No vote.
- We have massive personal taxation in Ireland, mostly collected with indirect taxation (e.g. VAT & VRT). We’ve only adopted tax harmonisation when it suits as it either encourages business or levies individuals. One piece of harmonisation the Irish government may introduce is rates on property. You can be sure this will be blamed on “Europe”.
- If we say yes to this we’re stuck with it and the power to amend this will transfer to the EU institutions. Our proportional vote will be lowered which will affect us as many key issues which pre-Treaty require unanimous decision will be decidable via Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). You’re not just voting for Lisbon, the vote has serious future implications for Irish law and self governance on important economic and social issues
- In the Irish Constitution, any amendments must be put to the people in a referendum. We fought hard for this constitution, we should not give it up by copper-fastening the superiority of the EU legal institutions. We’re not a perfect country by any means but self-governance has been important to us in the past.
- Potentially, we would not have a permanent EU Commissioner due to our size
- The Reform Treaty of Lisbon would give the European Union the power to make laws or take decisions in 68 new policy areas or matters, which would include civil and criminal law, justice and policing, immigration, public services, energy, transport, tourism, civil protection and public health. The four fundamental freedoms of the EU are: free movement of persons, goods, capital and establishment. Look at subversions of this like VRT and you’ll see that we haven’t even got freedom of trade. We’ve already been let down by our government to our financial detriment. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a Yes vote for Lisbon will reduce the personal direct and indirect taxation here.There are better ways to achieve that goal already provided for under EU law
- The Treaty of Lisbon would enshrine a subordinate role for National Parliaments. Whilst we have already lost law making powers to the EC/EU, we would lose more under Lisbon and the citizens who elect them have lost their powers to decide too. In any event, this referendum should be unnecessary because the Nice Treaty voting arrangements are already in place and functioning adequately.
- Ask yourself why other countries are not voting on this? Oh wait, the French and Dutch have already rejected the proposed EU constitution in 2005. Ireland looks like being the only EU State to have a referendum because of the Irish Constitution and the 1986 Crotty case.Don’t perceive a No vote as somehow “letting down” your fellow Europeans. Chances are that they don’t really want this either but are being denied the democratic opportunity to decide for themselves.
- As several people who’ve read it are pointing out, the Lisbon treaty is an unintelligible mess. It contains 300 pages of amendments to over 3000 pages of existing Treaties. There is no consolidated version of this treaty available which can be easily understood by anyone who hasn’t a deep amateur or professional interest in law and a lot of caffeinated products. Would you sign a contract you can’t understand?
- You can be damn sure the politicians telling you to vote yes have not and never will read this thing in entirety
Then consider how many of these risks are identified on the smiley-faced bright & breezy referendum commission’s website. Are you really informed?