Will The Irish Put The Brakes On The EU Constitution?

Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty in a referendum which nearly scuppered it. But the EU ignored the result, and the referendum was held again the following year. The Irish economy was booming and the Treaty with a few concessions was passed in the next referendum.

Ireland’s mood now is probably the same – favourable to the EU as they’ve become so rich – the richest country in Europe per capita. Their economy has made them all millionaires.

But the economy is suffering from an excessive concentration in property and construction now, and their trade with the USA is being hit by the falling dollar and rising euro. But I think they are all too rich to notice or care.

Posted by: Tapestry | 25 June 2007 at 11:40

True, Tapestry, the Irish may well vote for the new treaty. But the central fact is that they will have a referendum, because the Irish Constitution was codified and protected from amendment by the government and/or MPs. There are advantages in that appproach, but also disadvantages. The Irish government did moot whether to free itself from the nuisance of having to hold referendums, but that proposal was quickly quashed – for the time being.


May 13 2005

“In the face of widespread criticism from the opposition parties and media commentators, the Irish government has decided to drop its proposal to allow itself to agree to a wide range of EU policy changes without consulting the people. Originally, the Government’s proposed wording for the forthcoming referendum of the EU Constitution contained a passerelle provision, allowing agreement to substantive EU policy changes (including the abolition of the national veto in unspecified areas) to be approved by the Houses of Parliament without the need for a popular referendum (see my blog entry of 6th May).

This proposal was condemned by some commentators on the basis that it was not technically required by the EU Constitution. Opposition politicans denounced the proposal as undemocratic, with the anti-Constitution Sinn Fein suggesting that it would amount to a further erosion of Irish sovereignty.

The Government was fearful that this controversy would lead to a negative vote on the Constitution, and has quickly moved to drop this proposal. Last weekend, a government spokesperson made the following statement: “The Government is sensitive to the political argument that the scope of the procedure might be exaggerated in a referendum campaign, and is now tending to the view that arrangements for ratification, even of such limited treaty change, should remain as at present – namely a decision would be taken on a case-by-case basis as to whether a referendum would be necessary”

The amended wording for the referendum will now allow the Government freedom to approve the abolition of the national veto in specified policy areas only.”

Posted by: Denis Cooper | 25 June 2007 at 12:04

The Irish were permitted to opt out of involvement with any EU Military Action after their first referendum rejection of Nice. This was the focus of the rejection campaign, maintaining an independent position for Irish defence. The pro-EU voters came back and voted Nice through after this concession.

Sinn Fein is anti-EU and so are the Greens, but they are minority parties in the Irish Parliament. It will be interesting to see if the anti-EU campaigners in Ireland can find a focus this time to reject the Constitution.

Ireland might be sensitive to the right of the EU to operate an independent foreign policy in competition with the USA. Ireland has close connections and much more trade with the USA than the rest of Europe, and the potential loss of an independent foreign policy might become a focus, as EU foreign policy is almost bound to be anti-American.

In 2001 the USA was still not very aware that the EU posed a substantial threat to US foreign policy. It was pre-9/11 and the USA was still feeling hugely secure with the dotcom boom in flood and the joy of the Clinton years.

The USA is far more sensitive to foreign policy now, and is likely to be keen to halt the EU Constitution if it can. They would be able to provide largescale funding to any political opposition. It is a possible area of concern for the Brussels centralisers that the Irish might again throw a spanner in the works.

Posted by: Tapestry | 25 June 2007 at 12:04 (conservativehome)

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.

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