Irish voters throwing back Europe and shooting themselves in the foot by killing the EU reform treaty

The EU has been a success story so far. It has grown to a mighty 27-nation bloc which is the only way for tiny European countries to play a role in the globalized world. The eastward expansion, however, made the EU more complex and inefficient. The core problem is that EU operation depends on agreement between the member states. This worked in times when the EU had six members, and even when there were 15 members, but consent is virtually out of reach in the EU-27. Europe has a total population of almost 500 million people. The Treaty of Lisbon which is aimed at streamlining decision-making in the EU has to be ratified by all 27 member states before it can take effect. Ireland is the only country holding a public referendum on the treaty.  And now Europe is in a mess. Irish voters seem to have scraped the treaty by voting “no” on Thursday. It’s stupefying that tiny Ireland which obviously owes most of its economic upturn to the European Union blocks the required reform of the EU plunging Europe into a new crisis. This disaster highlights the weaknesses of the EU. Hopefully, European politicians realize at last that they can’t keep on proceeding like they’ve been doing until today. Those countries which are still to ratify the reform treaty should keep doing so. Finally, the 26 EU member states which want the EU to remain effective and working to represent a strong Europe, should act on behalf of the the interests of 490 million Europeans (minus 6 million Irish who’d also benefit)  and not pay attention to the voice of rebellious, confused and apparently irresponsible Irish foot-draggers. If the Irish feel hurt by being ignored, they should be told that they’re free to leave the Union. Nobody will miss them. The EU doesn’t need Ireland, but Ireland does need the EU. All those politicians who have wrangled over the failed EU constitution which was knocked out by French and Dutch voters in 2005 and the urgently needed Treaty of Lisbon for years should not pay attention to the voice of less than one percent of Europeans who apparently don’t care about the destiniy of a united Europe and used this vital referendum to express their discontentment with their government without considering the dire consequences of their childish act of defiance for the future of the European Union.

The French minister for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, mentioned that some kind of “legal arrangement” could be found with the Irish after all other EU states will have ratified the treaty. I really hope that the reorganization of the European Union won’t be stymied again. Otherwise, the future of the Union looks rather gloomy and it is to be seen whether all 27 member states can yet another time agree on yet another treaty. The Irish prime minister said that there “is no plan B” in the case of rejection as it was the case when the Irish voters blocked another vital European treaty, the Treaty of Nice in 2001, which succeeded in a second poll one year later.

The senselessness behind the group opposing the EU treaty came to the fore when Declan Ganley, a major figure of the “vote no” campaign urged people to vote “no” “so that Ireland could retain a stronger voice in Europe”.

I think that most Irish are quite aware that they benefit from being part of the European Union and I expect most of them to see the necessity of a European reorganization, but unfortunately, those who have understood the importance of the treaty have stayed at home. The voter turnout was as low as 40% according to the BBC.



Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Irish voters throwing back Europe and shooting themselves in the foot by killing the EU reform treaty

  1. Rhuaidhri

    I find it very disheartening that on a number of blogs etc you have people saying oh the ungrateful Irish after all the money we have given them they just don’t want to give it back now they can afford to.

    As it stands we will still be net contributors under the curret rules. Let’s be realistic Lisbon was new treaty just because we voted no to it doesn’t mean we aren’t bound by the existing ones.

    Secondly we were given that money for consessions in orther area’s, the Spainish or example have made bucket loads of money from being allowed to fish our waters and use up our resources.

    Even in the new Europe there is no such thing as a free lunch unless you happen to be one of the over paid pencil pushers in Brussels.

    With regards to why we voted no, speaking for myself the treaty of lisbon is dreadfully vague.

    I have many concerns over the open ended nature of QMV which in so far as I can see could end up being applied to any area where the EU judges itself to be competent.

    Not that something along of the lines of Lisbon isn’t needed, but I’m fed up with half assed fixes.

    Let’s get the EU parliament proper power, cut out all these deals behind closed doors with no accountability if we want to go ahead with a Federal Europe. If we are to go ahead with one shoud not every citizen get a vote? I think Lisbon or anything like it is too important not to allow everyone have their say.

    If we want to go back to the good old days of the EC and only have it about common economic developement then in that case the voting needs to reflect the contributions of nations not their population. Why should a small country who through either tax or resources is contributing a lot to the EC have a smaller say than a bigger country which isn’t?

  2. Rhuaidhri

    Oh and BTW the turnout was over 51%, higher than any recent EU referendum here. It wasn’t people in the know staying at home, rather a lot of people who aren’t clear on what exactly Lisbon entails. Not surprising given that the devil which is in the details has yet to be hashed out, yet more half assed work.

    Also of concern was the idea of a common defense force. Although we wouln’t have to join any such force our money would be used to administrate such a force (It would have to be since the funds don’t appear to bearen’t ring fenced so all administration be it fisheries or military is paid for by all). Supposedly this area would require unanimous concent but since the treaty allows QVM to be extended etc it’s not 100% clear if this would always be the case. We are very proud of our neutrality and it means our small defense force can play a large well repected role in many peacekeeping and relief efforts.

  3. Karen

    The Irish are just as concerned about the destiny of a united Europe as all of the other European member states. Have you paused to consider that this may possibly be the main reason for how the Irish people voted. Have you read in totality and fully comprehended the terms of the Lisbon treaty, I doubt very much that you have. What of democracy, is it not a worring trend that countries who have previously been allowed to vote in such matters have been excluded from voting in this one. The Irish are not a stupid race willing to be railroaded or bullied into something by elite bureaucrats, what about the people, those millions that you keep refering to, if the rest of Europe had been given a voice, which they weren’t they too would most lightly have come to the same conclusion. The Irish primarily voted as they did in retaliation to the blatant lack of democracy afforded their fellow European’s in a so called democratic “Europe.”
    You would do well to fully comprehend what direction our united Europe could be heading if already it is depriving it’s own people the basic human right of freedom of choice, the voice of rebellious, confused and apparently irresponsible Irish foot-draggers might then be better appreciated.

  4. Christopher Meyer

    The EU has to push forward with its reform efforts! Today it’s Ireland that blocks change, last year it was Poland that almost threatened an agreement and what countries are next to prevent joint European efforts? European federalism is becoming more and more of a hindrance. Countries like Malta, Luxembourg or Cyprus are able to block pressing decisions. For example in 2005, Cyprus threatened to block Turkey’s accession talks to the EU due to political quarrels over the Turkish refusal to recognize Nicosia. Majority decision should replace the uanimity mess.

  5. Daniel

    It’s just so funny! There 26 member states supporting the reform treaty and one of the smallest member states can veto it? This is the dictatorship of the minority! That’s nothing to do with democracy!

  6. Rhuaidhri

    Majority voting would be fine if we knew exactly how and what it would be applied to.

    We don’t want to lose our Neutrality but are you saying we should just because other people in europe want to create a new army to defend Europe.
    Does that mean we should allow nukes placed in my country just because the majority of people in other countries want it?

    In that case your talking about doing away with Nations and creating a new United States of Europe which is fine as long as everyone gets to vote on it.

    If your not talking about that then allow us to opt out of stuff and not pay for it.

  7. Karen


    Just to clarify there are 27 European governments that support the Lisbon treaty, the Irish government included. There is Ireland, one member state that does not. There are 26 other member states who have not yet been afforded the opportunity to voice their opinion. If the word dictatorship is to be used here it should be applied to the governments of the 26 countries who have not allowed their people a voice of their own.

  8. economax

    To my mind, holding a referendum on international treaties such as the Lisbon treaty is not very democratic. A referendum is fine as long as the people’s decision only impacts their country and their future. But EU treaties are negotiated between 27 partners and referendums on EU treaties have an impact on all the other EU member states and the consequences are felt by all partners. If the EU were a federal state, the people could be asked to vote and the majority would decide. The people voting on EU membership would also be O.K. as they’d have to live with the consequences of their decision. But I oppose that a few million Irish voters can decide about the future of the entire EU and all Europeans have to bear the consequences. In fact, the Irish now prevent the EU from becoming more democratic. Besides, arguing that the ratifying process in the other 26 member states lacks of democracy is not correct. Elected national parliaments represent the people and deciding on behalf of them is their job. Furthermore, the Lisbon treaty was aimed at making the EU more democratic, giving national parliaments and the European parliament more ways to impact Brussels’ decision makers. Anyway, the future of the EU looks gloomy with no more chances to achieve a basic agreement on how to run this bureaucratic giant. Ireland should consider whether it still wants to be part of both – the economic and the political union. Without a miracle, the EU states are likely to drift apart which would hurt most smaller states as the big players like France, Germany, Italy and the UK would have enough power to deal with countries like the US, China or Russia on the same level and to fight for their interests. But the European Union has weakened itself again. We cannot expect foreign countries to consider the EU as a dependable partner while one country can cause the entire union to become a lame duck. A second referendum or a third try with another treaty appear to be doomed to failure. It’s questionable whether Europeans still can do politics together and tackle pressing issues like climate change, international terrorism, the energy crisis and the increased influence of emerging powers.

  9. Pingback: I’ll take a summer break… « What Matters

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