Friday, June 13, 2008

The Lisbon Treaty is dead or at least it should be

The Lisbon Treaty was defeated in the Irish referendum by 53.4% against to 46.6% in favour of the treaty. The threat to Ireland, Europe and to the democratic process in general posed by the Lisbon Treaty has been averted and all eyes now turn to the question of what happens next. The treaty which is a slightly amended version of the Constitution previously rejected by both France and the Netherlands should now be binned. Ratification could only have taken place if the treaty had been accepted unanimously by all 27 nations, so for all practical purposes this treaty is dead.

This point was echoed by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in a TV interview on Thursday (the day of the Irish referendum) when he said, "If the Irish people decide to reject the treaty of Lisbon, naturally, there will be no treaty of Lisbon." This view however was not shared by other French politicians “[...] rejection of The Lisbon Treaty should not stop other member states ratifying it”, according to France's Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet . "The most important thing” according to Mr. Jouyet in an interview with LCI television, “is that ratification should continue in other countries and I have good reasons to think that the process of ratification will continue,". This sentiment was also mooted by Jose Manuel Barosso President of the European Commission in and interview on Irish TV. Clearly Mr Barosso wants to put pressure on Ireland when he should be conceding that the treaty is dead.

The historic rejection of the Lisbon treaty shows that the Irish electorate will not be bullied into voting for a treaty which would have stripped Ireland of much of its remaining sovereignty. The result is by no means an attack on Europe, as Dana Rosemary Scallon pointed out in her recent letter to the Irish Times.

We are no less European in upholding the primacy of Ireland's Constitution and protecting the rights of the Irish people, for what is at issue here is not whether we should remain in Europe, but rather what kind of Europe we are to be part of.

It is important to note that this very significant decision was made by the Irish electorate despite the fact that all the major political parties canvassed for a yes vote and it clearly demonstrates that the politicians are out of touch with the people. What we do not want is a re-run of a slightly amended text or continuation of ratification of Lisbon by other states. Lisbon is dead and it should now be buried. Any attempt to continue the ratification process in spite of the Irish “NO” only underlines the democratic deficit that caused Ireland to reject the treaty in the first place.