Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Letter to the editor: Lisbon treaty and energy security

The interesting thing here is that what Sharon Keating said appears to completely untrue. I assume that anyone writing a pro-Lisbon letter actually has a reasonable grasp of what the treaty contains. There are reasons to vote No that are independent of the content of the treaty - it's unreadability, the process by which it came about, the undemocratic nature of its ratification in many countries - but the same is not true for voting Yes. So if Sharon has read and understood the treaty, getting its content on energy completely wrong is presumably deliberate.

There is another possible explanation for getting the energy details wrong. If you only read the Lisbon treaty, it appears to be inserting several new paragraphs on energy. If you look at the Nice treaty then you can see that they were mostly there already. The actual change is much smaller than you'd think from the "delete this, insert this" in Lisbon. So maybe Ms. Keating just made an honest mistake but then you have to wonder if she actually knows what she is saying "Yes" to!

She also massively distorts what I said in my letter so I'm not inclined towards the innocent explanation.

Sharon Keating claims that the Lisbon treaty gives the EU new legal powers to address energy security. Wading through the treaties myself I find that this is just not true.

The EU has had competence in the area of energy since at least 1992 and Lisbon doesn't change that at all. The Maastricht treaty promoted the building of trans-European energy networks, including reference to the special needs of islands on the periphery of Europe.

Lisbon clarifies the EU's energy policy goals but all these and more are already included in the European Energy Policy, agreed at the European Council meeting in March 2007 (available at

The only new item is that the European Council "'may decide, in a spirit of solidarity between Member States, upon the measures appropriate to the economic situation, in particular if severe difficulties arise in the supply of certain products, notably in the
area of energy".

This is so vague that it's impossible to know how and when this would translate into concrete action and seems completely irrelevant to the original question of how Lisbon will attract inward investment.

This treaty does nothing for energy security that the EU is not already doing. It provides no "new legal powers".

Finally, I never said that we should vote "No" and "casually sit back". All along, I have simply been asking the advocates of Lisbon to provide any evidence at all for their claim that Ireland will lose foreign investment if we vote "No". I'm still waiting,

The following sources were used to construct this letter, the Maastricht treaty, the Nice treaty (I also found a copy of this that had been nicely marked up to show what the Nice treaty actually changed but I closed the page so I don't have the link to hand, I think it was from EU Observer), the Europa energy policy page which has a link to the agreement containing the European Energy Policy which I found about from this report on European energy policy

It really is a lot of work to correctly argue against the twaddle that the Yes people come out with. It's far too easy to get wild claims published and careful refutations are difficult to make short and interesting.

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