Monday, June 09, 2008

Letter to the editor: final Lisbon

The letters page in the Indo has been 100% Lisbon for the last few days and I spotted one today that annoyed me enough to get back on the horse. Maybe it'll sneak in in time.

I'm sick of hearing about how Europe has been good for us because that misses the point - Europe with consensus and vetoes has been good for us but there's no reason to believe that Europe with majority rule imposed on the minority will be any fun for us at all.

For an example of how "good for Europe" does not always mean "good for Ireland" you just have to look at ECB interest rates over the last 10 years. The low rates caused an unsustainable property boom in this country and made property speculators and landlords wealthy while making housing unaffordable for many. Now that Europe needs higher rates, our boom has turned to bust and there will be no soft landing.

I'm sick of hearing how this treaty is mainly about streamlining - if this treaty wasn't about giving away sovereignty, there would be no requirement for a referendum. The EU could streamline itself left, right and centre without needing the Irish people's say-so. For example, as I understand it, the treaty of Amsterdam amended the same treaties as Lisbon does and required no referendum in Ireland because it didn't touch sovereignty.

Anyway, there's too much there to have any hope of being printed, here's what I sent.

Those pushing for a "yes" to Lisbon are fond of pointing out the EU
has been great for Ireland - and it has. Directives have come from
Europe that our government has agreed to but would never have put
forward itself. They are like medicine - sometimes unpalatable but
good for us in the long term.

What the "yes" side always gloss over is that these directives have
all been negotiated with the knowledge that each country has a veto.
This has ensured that we really do get something that's good for
everyone, not something that's a cure for the bigger nations and a
poison for us. The Lisbon treaty changes this.

By removing vetoes, the treaty does not just "streamline" the EU's
decision making, it fundamentally changes it. We will not get the same
end result, just with less red tape. It will be a different end
result, one which may not be good for us in the short-term or the
long-term but which we will be powerless to reject,

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