25 October 2007

Ever Closer?

It seems that should the Irish anti-European movement feel a need for some fresh legs, they're available in France, as Jean-Marie Le Pen has declared his willingness to come to Ireland to campaign against the latest EU treaty, should he be invited to share his wisdom with us.

Apparently the new treaty is merely a clever reworking of the rejected constitution, with 90 per cent of the new treaty's text being taken straight from the proposed constitution, and that it's a criminal conspiracy and a denial of democracy. And, and I love this bit, he wonders who will defend French interests when the number of commissioners is reduced in 2014?

Is he ignorant, stupid, or just dishonest? The commissioners don't represent their countries' interests, after all, and indeed are bound to act independently of their governments and other specific interests. Sure, the Irish commissioner is often wheeled out to talk to the Irish and so forth, but just because he'll talk to the Irish doesn't mean that he'll listen!

I'll be curious to see how Ireland will handle this referendum when it comes around, because I'd be surprised if the government will ever again be as lethargic as it was during the first 'campaign' for the stopgap Nice Treaty which failed just because the 'yes' voters didn't bother to come out. Seriously, do the maths: in every European referendum since we've voted to join the then EEC, roughly 20 per cent of eligible voters have voted against European integration.

The anti-European vote in Ireland is small, disciplined, and diverse, gathering together most of the extremities of Irish political discourse under one umbrella; I'm not sure what will happen now that the Greens are in government, though. I have a feeling the 'no' vote will drop, unless people decide to use it to protest against the government, having spurned that opportunity in the recent election.

Meanwhile, across the water, the usual clowns are bellowing for a referendum, something which Blair seems to have been pressured into promising for the constitution that this treaty most certainly isn't.

British eurosceptics have an annoying tendency to forget that this was voted on before, back in 1975, when two thirds of British voters voted to stay within the European Community. 'But that was just for a common market!' they will wail. No, it wasn't. Read the first sentence of the treaty of Rome, which says that the signatories are establishing the common market in order to 'lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe'.

Ever closer union. The new treaty, which isn't nearly as significant as the Maastricht Treaty for which hardly anyone demanded a referendum, gets rid of that aspiration, and offers countries a secession mechanism, a something there's been no scope for in previous treaties. You'd think the anti-Europeans would want this treaty passed...

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