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.