Friday, June 13, 2008

Ireland says no

A follow-up to my post from yesterday ...

The final results are in, and it looks like voters in Ireland have, in fact, rejected the Treaty of Lisbon, and also by a fairly wide margin, 53.4% to 46.6%. This in spite of support from the establishment in the country including the two largest parties, the ruling Fianna Fail and the opposition Fine Gail.

This doesn't mean the end of the EU, not by a long shot. Ireland, as most of the continent, is in too deep already in part because it's part of the Eurozone. It does mean, however, that Brussels will have to do something it's been very reluctant to do in the past -- actually listen to the people rather than just the governments of the constituent states. If the EU is a partnership of democratic nations, than democracy should mean more than just an election to a neutered continental assembly every five years.

Common labour, safety and environmental standards, free movement of people and capital and common money make sense on the surface; and for the most part have contributed to Europe's recovery over the last six decades. Digging deep, however, my sense is that Europeans want the EU to get back to basics as a free trade zone and not be the all-encompassing behemoth that it is today, micromanaging nearly every aspect of people's lives except for defence, health, education and welfare -- about the only things the member states have left under their respective jurisdictions.

After all, 27 countries can't be expected to agree on absolutely everything. And I think the line towards even further integration should have ended once the Euro became reality. States still not part of the currency should, of course, have the right to opt in when conditions warrant; but they shouldn't have to give up any more. Not for themselves, not for their people. In fact, they should start taking some things back.

That doesn't make me a Euroskeptic -- not by any means. Just someone who thinks national sovereignty should still mean something in an open border world. I dread the day when Europe fields a united dream team for the World Cup of Soccer. As we've seen the last week or so with the Euro 2008 tournament, national pride still does count for something even in an open continent; a matter the Commission seems to forget at times.

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1 comment:

CuriosityCat said...

Thank heavens for Ireland!

The way in which the political leaders have set out to avoid having the citizens of their EU countries have a say in the treaty is sickening - they have been open about their strategems, and contemptuous about letting people vote in referenda.

Now perhaps other countries will seek the opinions of their voters, rather than try further elitist exercises ..