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Old 06-14-2008, 07:15 PM   #61
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EU referendum: no means no : June 2008 : Daniel Hannan : Politics : Telegraph Blogs

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They really don’t get it, these Eurocrats. I’ve just watched Margot Wallström, the Commission Vice-President, trying to explain away the results. It was important, she said, to work out what the Irish people had really been voting against.

Let me help you there, Margot. My guess is that they were voting against the Lisbon Treaty. The giveaway was the ballot paper, which asked whether people agreed to amend the Irish constitution so as to, you know, approve the Lisbon Treaty.

Now I don’t want to pick on Margot who, as I’ve mentioned before, I rather like. She’s certainly improved since the days when she used to warn that “No” voters would trigger a second Holocaust. (Yup, she really said that: see here for the full quotation.) Having just come back from a joyful production of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe – to say nothing of picking up my winnings from Paddy Power – I am in the mood to be generous.

But how much longer can Euro-Commissioners keep pretending that people have misunderstood the question? When the French voted “No”, it was argued that they were really voting against Chirac. When the Dutch voted “No”, it was claimed that they were really voting against Turkish accession. Do try and get it through your skulls, chaps, that people are voting against the proposition actually before them. They’ve had enough of “ever-closer union”. They’ve had enough of directives and regulations. They’ve had enough of being pushed around.

And – I’m sorry to have to say this, Margot – they’ve had enough of you. They’ve had enough of the EU’s politburo, with its lies and its arrogance, its corrupt expenses system, its disdain for democracy, its contempt for its own rules.
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Old 06-14-2008, 07:32 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Vincent Vega View Post
Additionally, I'm not opposed to the principle of the European Union, which means a economic and political union. I'm rather in favour of it.
May I ask why?
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Old 06-14-2008, 08:42 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by melon
Which EU nation(s) would you say are like "the U.S.," in the sense of setting the tone and dominating over the other nations?


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Originally Posted by financeguy
The Franco-German alliance.

..and they don't waste time either...

EU tries to isolate Irish after treaty rejection | World news | The Observer

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Germany and France moved to isolate Ireland in the European Union yesterday, scrambling for ways to resuscitate the Lisbon Treaty a day after the Irish dealt the architects of the EU's new regime a crushing blow.

Refusing to take Ireland's 'no' for an answer, politicians in Berlin and Paris prepared for a crucial EU summit in Brussels this week by trying to ringfence the Irish while demanding that the treaty be ratified by the rest of the EU.

The scene is now set for a major clash between the Irish and their European partners after a Dublin minister and sources in the ruling Fianna Fail party ruled out any chance of a second Irish referendum on the treaty.

Meanwhile the Czech President says the Treaty is dead, the leader of the Irish Labour Party (to his credit, being a Yes supporter) has said the same and 90% of contributors to the online site of the Dutch 'de Telegraaf' newspaper reportedly have supported the stance of the Irish voters.

Like a naughty schoolboy who has not done his homework, our Prime Mininster has been summoned to Brussels to explain himself. He should go to Brussels. He should politely but firmly tell Mr Barroso that there will be no second vote.

And then, he should pick up his papers, bid adieu, and walk right out of the room.

That is what should happen (but it probably won't!)
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Old 06-14-2008, 09:22 PM   #64
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I'm kind of getting the feeling that this is a massive failure of the politicians to really simplify the terms of the treaty for everyday people. Because I haven't yet heard a single specific provision of the treaty that anyone opposes, it's all just talk in terms of generalities. So either the political establishment has failed to explain the treaty or the treaty is so badly drafted that nobody, including the political establishment, really understands it.
With respect, I don't really accept this theory. It's been put about quite a lot by the Yes campaign, but as Daniel Hannan says in his blog article I posted above, isn't the more obvious explanation - that most of the No voters did indeed understand the Treaty, or at least its broad thrust - at least as valid?


This article, by Will Hutton in the Guardian, is fairly typical of the pro-federal Europe view that the main reason for the No vote was a combination of lack of effort on the part of the Yes campaign and deceitful tactics by the No campaign and that it's just a matter of explaining the provisions of the Treaty better to the common people so that they will understand it better and vote Yes:

Will Hutton: Europe must not be derailed by lies and disinformation | Comment is free | The Observer

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Eurosceptics celebrate a triumph of the little people against the Euro juggernaut. Ireland's 'no' vote against the treaty on the European constitution is, in such minds, the brave assertion of democracy against bureaucracy. The European elite in Brussels, with its dark plans to hobble Europeans everywhere, deserves a good kicking for producing an unloved, incomprehensible set of reforms. It has got it. Ireland has stood up for Europe.

This is nonsense from top to bottom, a farrago of lies and disinformation. The European Union is a painfully constructed and fragile skein of compromises that allows 27 democratic states on our shared continent to come together and drive forward areas of common interest to further their citizens' well-being. The elite that plots this is a nonexistent phantom invented by populist demagogues. The beleaguered, unloved treaty would have improved Europe's effectiveness and tried to address its much talked about democratic weaknesses.

The reality is that Ireland's 'no' voters have trashed an EU that is precious but weak. Most 'no' voters, grabbing on to the worst fear rather than reasoned fact, have unknowingly set in train a political dynamic that, unless carefully handled, could lead not just to Ireland but Britain leaving the EU. Everybody will be the poorer.

Sometimes, fatalistically, I think this may have to happen. Eurosceptics, such as Ireland's leading 'no' vote campaigner Declan Ganley, like to position their fierce and unjustified attacks on the actual Europe we have as being pro-European because today's EU does not correspond to some impossible notion of Europe that meets their own very particular prejudices. Such is the flaw of referendums as a means to practise reasoned democratic decision-making that the only way voters will come to realise that the sceptics are wrong is to be forced to live through the consequences of their vote.

Now, the Guardian is a left-of-centre newspaper, and Will Hutton is, like most of its regular columnists, and most of its readership, on the left.

So, I have to wonder why he failed to mention in his article that much - probably the majority - of the opposition to the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland came from the left, not the right. I have to wonder why he emphasizes the role of Declan Ganley (a right winger, as far as I can gather) as a prominent No campaigner, but neglects to mention the involvement of left wing voices such as Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party and some elements of the Greens in the No campaign.

And I tend to think that he doesn't mention this for a reason - because he knows that his largely left wing readership might have very different view of things if they realised that the No to Lisbon campaign is a broader church than he is trying to present.



Anyway, I can't figure out how to post graphs but here is a link to a poll analysing why no voters voted the way they did:

http://www.ireland.com/focus/thelisb...s/polls/no.jpg
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Old 06-15-2008, 12:18 AM   #65
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I've been away for a couple days and haven't seen this thread until now. It looks like the heated tone of the first couple pages has mostly given way to a more substantive focus on the underlying issues, but as this is clearly a rather emotionally charged topic, I'd just like to ask that the latter tack be maintained. In particular, resorting to accusing people of 'not having a clue what they're talking about,' rather than simply asking them to elaborate on specific points or offering your own arguments against their case as you understand it, achieves pretty much nothing debate-wise and is understandably more likely to piss them off than to make them feel like calmly fleshing out their case for you.


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I'm disappointed that the German government, along with almost every other, didn't think it was necessary to hold a referendum. The Lisbon Treaty is such an important step I find it ridiculous the public is ignored on this. Even worse, they didn't seem to see the need to objectively inform the public about the Lisbon Treaty at large. I don't know about how it looked like in other countries, but in Germany there has hardly been any public discussion about the Lisbon Treaty, the two sides of the arguments, the important parts of the treaty and so on. Hardly anyone really knows what is in the treaty, and the politicians failed to inform us about it big time.
It's true, the text of the treaty is available to the public, but come on, it's not justified to expect the public to read some 1,300 pages of legal language.

Additionally, I'm not opposed to the principle of the European Union, which means a economic and political union. I'm rather in favour of it. But I also think such a huge development needs its time, it cannot be forced on the public. And parts of the Lisbon Treaty are trying just that. In my eyes, as long-term goals that is generally desirable. But it's too early yet. We are just not that far progressed, and not that European. It is taking some generations, and not only 51 years after the Treaties of Rome are signed.
Another point, basically the Lisbon Treaty is just the failed European Constitution being given minor changes and a new name. That's an affront to the public. (And mind you, I would easily put myself pro-EU than anti-EU).

There are many things of the Lisbon Treaty that's really an important step forward, many of them listed by DrTeeth. But there are points, like shifting full legal responsibility (sorry, that's not the exact term but my English and my mind are failing me here) from the national high courts to the European High Court.

There are still considerable differences between the EU member states where the Lisbon Treaty is trying to be some sort of a unifier when it cannot be a unifier. In my eyes the politicians have to get off their high horses, listen to the public and think whether they really want to make the second step before the first. And give the damn thing its due time.
Sounds like you more or less represent the middle ground here. How long do you see this process taking (at least ideally)? Do you think the greatest obstacles to becoming "European" (I'm referring to your "not that far progressed..." quote) vary greatly from one member country (or 'bloc') to the next, or that they're pretty much the same everywhere? And--basically echoing financeguy's last question here--why are you confident that a strong economic and political union is the best way to go in the long run?
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Old 06-15-2008, 07:02 AM   #66
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May I ask why?

Sure.

Well, one thing of course is that I've grown up a child of the European Union: Being born in late 1985 my conscious upbringing was under the EU.
I've not gotten much nationalistic sense. Of course I'm rooting for the German soccer team, feel good when we perform well on something and like my country to be a well respected nation in the world. But in no way do I wake up in the morning and think "Great, I'm a German".
Another thing is that, like I mentioned in my other post, I think the process of political union is a very long one. I think that is a goal that won't be achieved in our generation, and most probably not even in the next. I don't see this coming in my lifetime, and only beginning in my childrens' lifetime. And that has to be acknowledged, hence I think it to be unfortunate to try to force such a long-reaching Treaty onto the public.

So far we are different nations with different ideals and different cultures etc, so full political union, or really one Europe, is just not there now. But in the long-run I think it will help us to overcome many conflicts we still bear, and we are likely to become more efficient as there won't be any need for the full structures all the countries now need to have.

But well, apart from that I cannot really come up with many explanations why I think the EU to be a good project or political union to be desirable. It's probably more some inner feelings of sort or a lack of patriotism or something, I don't know.
Or maybe it's just because yesterday was a long night with many cocktails.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:55 AM   #67
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Sounds like you more or less represent the middle ground here. How long do you see this process taking (at least ideally)? Do you think the greatest obstacles to becoming "European" (I'm referring to your "not that far progressed..." quote) vary greatly from one member country (or 'bloc') to the next, or that they're pretty much the same everywhere? And--basically echoing financeguy's last question here--why are you confident that a strong economic and political union is the best way to go in the long run?
On the economic part I'd say we have made some substantive progress so far, and we are making huge steps there. Even the Euro is widly accepted by now and the children born around the year 2000 don't know that's ever been different. (On a side note, if Denmark was to hold another referendum on the Euro chances would be good they would vote yes this time). There are still many challenges, like fundamentally differently developed regions, different national interests and different economic philosophies, but that's self-evident.
And we have to find real alternatives for the ridiculous subsidisation of agriculture.

I'm convinced that the single European countries would hardly be able to keep up with the global competition if they were left on their own. Of course you have Switzerland and Norway who are doing fine on their own, and would be stupid to join the EU now. (Nevertheless, Switzerland recently joined the Schengen Agreement, and Norway is a member either). But both of them also have unique economies which are not comparable with the rest of Europe. Norway has a huge income from their oil resources and started very early on to provide for the time after setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund in the 1970's. Switzerland is a unique case altogether with highly specialised companies producing the most expensive watches, the most expensive chocolate and whatnot, and their banking system is a massive source of income.

Maybe we could do without political union, but I very much doubt we could face the future the way we can now if we were to part again economically. The GDP of the US e.g. is more than twelve trillion, Germany's is about 2.5 trillion. None of the European countries is possessing any remarkable amounts of raw materials and we have off-shored most of our industry independent from the development of the EU. If we didn't combine our purchasing power and join our production capability our economic power would be very vulnerable.

The political progress will most probably take much longer. The sense of feeling European rather than *insert nation here* is still very present, and won't vanish in my lifetime.
If you travel through Europe, especially Scandinavia, in many countries you will find a national flag in front of every house. In Denmark it is even forbidden to haul up any other flag than the Danish. In Germany, if you fly the German flag you are accused of being a Nazi. Italy is divided by itself, the north and the south are like two different countries. Spain about the same, like you can see with the Basques or the Katalans. And Germany is still dealing with the reunification. So as long as single countries are still having regional conflicts, some violent, most in the sense of "Leave me alone with those ...", substantial progress towards one Europe is hindered. And these conflicts are hardly solved within the next two generations in most countries.
As you can see with the discussion about cheap labor from Poland that is just another hurdle. There are countries that are among the leading economies in the world, and there are countries that are (at least regional) just above third world status.
You have countries that are hundreds of years old, and others that are not even twenty years old. Their citizens have fundamentally different reasons why they are not ready to give up sovereignty and why they see their country first, the EU second. Something the bureaucrats in Brussels are often overlooking.

And the bureaucrats in Brussels are just another obstacle. What one hears of the EU is mostly that it's a huge behemoth wasting billions of money, creating law after law, regulation after regulation and decree after decree. They have defined what is an acceptable banana or pickle to an extent that you feel no smiley could be more appropriate than
And if you took a look at what politicians become Commissioner or Representative you see one trend: Brussels is like the dumping place for politicians their parties don't want to be seen or heard too much from. You have scandals like representatives going to sign attendance lists and leaving because all they need to get their money is their signature on the record. They are receiving a flat rate amount for travel expenses, so what do they do? Book some low cost carrier flight as often as they can and cashing in on their flat rate. When confronted by the media they are running away, accusing the media of asking inappropriate questions or arrogantly saying that's their good right.
Not exactly the best way to convince the public of the "European idea".

I think there are both individual and common obstacles the countries are facing. Big countries like Germany, France or England are afraid of losing power, and being net contributors they want their money to be used soundly, though often doing exactly the opposite themselves. Smaller countries are afraid of being swallowed by the larger ones and of course they are afraid of being constantly outvoted.
All countries are looking back at their respective history, their struggle for independence and their countries' achievements in the past, and they don't want to lose that. And Europe's bloody history is still not forgotten.

I guess one of the biggest advantages is that we are diminishing the risk of aiming our guns against each other ever again. We are becoming less dependent from the US economy and it's never been easier to travel Europe on a small budget. I'm a great fan of free movement of labour, goods and services in general, as I'm seeing the advantages of that rather than the disadvantages, and I think that the very next generation is starting to see more and more the advantages of overcoming the boundaries of nationalism.

Don't know if I am making much sense today, and I feel I'm not making the most compelling argument here, but I will try to think it over over the next days if I get time and a good night's sleep.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:26 AM   #68
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Here you can find a more detailed analysis of the reasons, demographics etc. behind the Irish referendum conducted by Gallup: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_245_en.pdf
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