Campaigns // éirígí say no to the Lisbon treaty
“Are we all clear that we want to build something that can aspire to be a world power? In other words not just a trading block, but a political entity.”
Visions of Empire
The vision of creating a European empire to rival that of the United States has long been an aspiration of the European political elite. The Lisbon Treaty represents but another step on that road. Already rejected by voters in the 26 counties, the treaty is a cynical re-draft of the EU Constitution which was itself defeated in referenda in both France and the Netherlands in 2005. Following these setbacks for the elite project, European governments entered a ‘period of reflection’: a cover name for undermining democracy.
Constitution Defeated – The People have Spoken?
It was decided that the more overt symbols of a federal state such as the flag and anthem would be removed and the term ‘Constitution’ dropped and renamed the ‘Reform Treaty’. This treaty was signed by the Council of Europe at Lisbon in October 2007 and became known as the Lisbon Treaty. Notwithstanding these cosmetic changes the substance of the Treaty remained exactly the same. This was confirmed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June 2007: “the substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact.”
Electing A New People
Significantly the European political establishment ensured that the French and Dutch would not be given a second opportunity to ruin their carefully prepared plans. The Treaty was to be ratified through member state parliaments rather than referendum. Indeed their cynicism was evident in the comments of former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato: “the good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it”. However, there was a spanner in the works. The sterling campaigning work of the late Raymond Crotty prior to the Single European Act in 1987, ensured that the SEA and all subsequent European treaties with implications for Irish sovereignty must be put to referendum in the 26 counties. The people of the Twenty-Six counties are the only people in all of the EU that actually get to vote on the Lisbon Treaty.
The First Lisbon Treaty Referendum
So in June 2008 the Lisbon Treaty was put to voters in the 26 counties. éirígí was affiliated to the Campaign Against the European Constitution (CAEUC) and ran an intense, informative and colourful campaign, working alongside a range of left wing and progressive groups. The result of the referendum was truly astounding, despite the dire warnings of the political and business elite, 53 per cent of the electorate voted No. Key issues of concern to voters were the diminution of democracy, the erosion of sovereignty and neutrality and the subordination of workers’ rights to the interests of big business.
No Means No?
From the moment the result was announced éirígí wasted no time in demanding that democracy be upheld and that ‘No Means No’. Gathering at the gates of Dublin Castle where the result was officially announced and which was formerly the seat of the British empire in Ireland, éirígí activists warned that the political establishment would attempt to ignore the will of the people. An intensive and visible sticker and banner campaign was conducted in the months following the Treaty result.
Political Promises and Lisbon 2
While the outcome certainly shook the political establishment across Europe, their willingness to undermine democracy proved insatiable. In June 2009 the Dublin government received a series of political promises from the European Council on taxation, neutrality and abortion and a ‘solemn declaration’ on workers’ rights. None of this changed one word or comma of the Lisbon Treaty but became the pretext for re-running the Lisbon referendum.
The Demise of Neo-Liberalism?
Since the 2008 referendum capitalism has been gripped by the greatest global crisis since the 1930s. The property bubble upon which the so called Celtic Tiger economy was built has collapsed and unemployment in Ireland has reached 500,000. The Dublin government response has been to bail out bankers and developers who created the economic mess while simultaneously imposing extra taxes and levies on workers. Notwithstanding their own culpability in creating the economic disaster, the government is attempting to scare voters by suggesting that the “ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is a vital contribution to economic recovery”. It seems that those advocating a Yes vote consider an even stronger dose of neo-liberalism as proposed under Lisbon can act an antidote to the economic disaster.
The Lisbon Treaty – What does it Say?
The Lisbon Treaty amends the Treaty of the European Community (Treaty of Rome 1957), henceforth the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty 1992) giving the EU a legal personality and gradually transforming it into a federal state. éirígí will once again be mounting a vigorous campaign to consign the Lisbon Treaty and the principles underpinning it to the dustbin of history.
éirígí opposes the Lisbon Treaty because:
éirígí needs your help. If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign to defeat the Lisbon Treaty or donating to the campaign please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Related News Stories from the éirígí Archives
Additional Campaign Page
Useful Campaign Links
Copyright© éirígí 2006, All rights reserved