Simplified Democracy

The Lisbon Treaty – that’s the treaty on the reform of the European Union signed by all EU heads of government last December – is supposed to come into effect on January 1, 2009, providing that all EU member-states have ratified it by that time. Progress to that end so far has been pretty good, as Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, Romania, and France have already done so.

Writing in Le Monde Diplomatique, Serge Halimi turns up as the skunk at the EU’s garden party. As he reminds us in an article entitled Simplified Democracy, with all this push for ratification there is still the little matter that the Lisbon Treaty will institute significant changes in the way the EU is run about which most European peoples will not get the opportunity they deserve to decide – namely by referenda. Even worse: a couple of European peoples have already had the chance to decide about these changes – and have rejected them!

Halimi’s central accusation is that the Lisbon Treaty process has merely amounted to a cynical maneuver to push through the so-called European Constitution that was left for dead in 2005 after voters in the referenda in France and the Netherlands voted “no.” This is hardly an original notion; what this article rather brings to the table is the damning evidence – clear, short, and sweet.

For there is no substantial difference between the rejected Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty – this according to Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who chaired the Convention that wrote the draft Constitution: “[T]he tools are exactly the same. Only the order has been changed in the tool-box.” Halimi gives chapter-and-verse on the broken promises about the Constitution that have marked the political scenes of several European lands:

  • Nicolas Sarkozy, now French president, in June, 2006: “As a consistent European and a responsible politician, you can’t simply pretend after the French “no” to the European Constitution that nothing has happened! The French people have addressed a message to us: I want to pay attention to it.” But then this year, as mentioned, Sarkozy simply pushed the Lisbon Treaty through parliament.
  • In the Netherlands, the people rejected the European Constitution with a vote of 62%. Nonetheless, the Lisbon Treaty is scheduled to be addressed for approval by the Dutch parliament.
  • Tony Blair promised just before the European elections of 2004 that the British people would get a referendum on the European Constitution. Of course, they never got the chance on that “Constitution,” but what about the Lisbon Treaty? No, it turns out Blair’s successor Gordon Brown intends to submit the Treaty to Parliament.
  • And in Portugal, the governing Socialist Party promised on the occasion of the national elections of February, 2005, that there would be a referendum on the Constitution. Now premier José Sócrates will have none of that – “the circumstances have completely changed. It’s a different treaty.”

But it’s seemingly not a different treaty to many, including those best placed to know. As Halimi points out, it’s only the Irish who will have a chance to approve or disapprove of the Lisbon Treaty with a referendum, to occur in May or June. And if they vote “no” – give the “wrong answer”? There is little doubt that the EU machinery will collectively find some way around that, too. In which case, why even bother to show up to cast one’s vote?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.