The cheers are dying down after the Irish Referendum, and the thinking is moving on as to what to do next. The problem for the eurosceptics is that the initiative rests with the europhile fraternity. Like sharks circling a shoal of mackerel, they are working out their possible lines of attack, while the shoal frantically circles itself into a tighter and tighter ball.
The mackerel are spending a lot of time reading their own side’s written output, when right now the way to get ready to defend the eurosceptic cause must be to read the minds of the sharks, and prepare some counter-thrusts.
That can be done by seeing the terms in which the sharks see the coming political and legal battles. Reading Grahnlaw Blog is often a good way to do that, the blog of Ralf Grahn the Finnish lecturer in EU Law, and noted europhile.
From reading his blog, it is clear that the europhile cause has been struck a mighty blow in Ireland. It is reeling and looking around for a way to reorientate.
Revealingly, however, Grahn sees that the ratification process is likely to hit more troubles in more countries that he mentions, Cyprus and Poland as well as the Czech Republic. To these smaller fry, could be added troubles with some bigger fish that are not yet resolved – Italy with the Northern League, and Germany where the Lisbon Treaty could be ruled as unconstitutional.
Read Grahn’s most recent blog entries below. The last one shows that eurosceptic leadership needs to do more than merely block the thrusts of the europhile elites. There is the need to articulate the relationship of a new post-EU Europe, which trades free but is based on democratic legitimacy.
Richard North has been blogging that the next phase of the eurosceptic campaign will be different, but he has yet to state how. By reading the writings of his opponents, maybe he could more easily see which way to go.
The good news for eurosceptics is reading how even Grahn sees the EU project as it is being applied, as destined for self-destruction. But as he says, the opponents of Europe have not started to state a better alternative. That must now surely be the primary eurosceptic challenge. Not just to say NO to the EU, but YES to what alternative?
This is Think Tank time, and the moment for eurosceptics to start to enunciate their ideas.
Here are the clues on offer from Grahn as to what kind of Europe eurosceptics should aspire to in the future. Seeing where the sharks are weak, tells the mackerel where to attack.
Lisbon Treaty rescue operation
Daniel Gros (Pictured – wart and all) and Sebastian Kurpas of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) have looked at the options for Europe after the Irish No vote. CEPS Policy brief No. 163 (June 2008) is available at:
‘What next? How to save the Treaty of Lisbon’ starts with an assessment of different options under debate. These are:
1. Abandon the Treaty of Lisbon and continue with the Treaty of Nice
2. Reopening negotiations on a new Treaty
3. Increased efforts on flexible integration
4. Implementation of those elements in the Treaty of Lisbon that do not require ratification
5. Temporary withdrawal of Ireland from the EU
6. Continuing the ratification process followed by a second Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon
Gros and Kurpas then present what they call a feasible, legal and fair way ahead. Their Plan B proposes ratifying the consolidated treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon. This would entail a speedy re-ratification by the member states that already have ratified the original Lisbon Treaty.
The second Irish referendum would be about a different question: Does Ireland wish to join the EU with the Lisbon Treaty in force?
The essentials of the CEPS proposal are the same as put forward by this blog, namely to save the substance of the Treaty of Lisbon within a new European Union among the ratifying states.
Given the potential unravelling of the Lisbon Treaty in a number of countries (the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Poland) and the possibility that some might balk at the abandonment of the ‘liberum veto’, the authors are perhaps unduly optimistic in proposing mandatory ratification by 26 states.
In my view, the basic criteria should be that the ratifying states continue, but the treaty is open for later accessions, a customary procedure regarding international treaties.
Another difference is that Gros and Kurpas, focusing on the rescue of the Lisbon Treaty, do not enter into a discussion of the growing popular resistance against the European Union and the profound disillusionment spreading among pro-Europeans.
Without a solemn pledge to institute EU level democratic legitimacy and accountability, the European project is headed for failure. This blog argues that the European Council has to set a new course towards fundamental democratic reform if it wishes to avert a worse catastrophe than the ship-wreck of the Lisbon Treaty.
The missing link between governing and governed must be established in a manner suited to the 21st century.
For the anti-EU crowd it is standard fare to deny the existence of a European demos or people, and even the prospect of one. Some even deny the existence of EU citizenship. Hasn’t the allegation that the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty would ‘enforce’ an EU citizenship been one of the popular myths surrounding treaty reform?
Their concept is more akin to ‘Blut und Boden’ myths than to reasoning based on citizenship and political rights.
Since the Maastricht Treaty entered into force, 1 November 1993, every citizen of an EU member state is a citizen of the European Union.
But the political rights are underdeveloped.
Granting the citizens of the union the main political rights – to vote the officeholders into and out of office and to set the course for the EU – would create the European demos.
It is as simple as that, but until now the governments of the member states have preferred to cashier the meaningful ballot.
Crudely put, the current European demos consists of 27 persons at a time.
Reforming EU institutions and democracy
What to do if the size and the rules of the European Union prevent reform? The Italian president Giorgio Napolitano has called for a more firm and coherent engagement between integrationist states. The European Union needs a new democratic surge.
Napolitano’s speech can be found on the web pages of Notre Europe in Italian and French:
Here is an extract from the French language version:
La Communauté, et puis l’Union, se sont au fur et à mesure élargies jusqu’à atteindre 27 Etats
membres. Mais le moment de la preuve est venu : si, dans cette dimension et avec les règles
actuelles, l’Union montre qu’elle ne peut pas fonctionner et qu’elle ne peut pas non plus
changer ses règles, il faut alors trouver les formes d’un engagement plus ferme et plus
cohérent entre ces pays qui se sont reconnus dans les choix d’intégration et de cohésion plus
avancés, comme celui de la monnaie unique, celui de l’Euro et de la zone Euro.
Et il faut comprendre que le vote en Irlande a plus que jamais radicalement posé un problème.
Le problème des rapports entre gouvernants et gouvernés dans l’Europe unie, le problème de
la participation et du consensus des citoyens.
L’Union européenne – si souvent accusée de manquer de « capacity to deliver » – ne pourra
pas augmenter son efficacité sans réformes et moyens adéquats, et sans un nouvel élan
The maturity test of the European Council is going to be if it succeeds in achieving both institutional and democratic reform.
Monday, 23 June 2008
EU’s Irish future
At the European Council meeting, the defeated Irish government understandably asked for more time to come to a conclusion after Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
The victorious No campaigner Libertas seems to be as clueless at the moment. The latest on the Libertas web page, dated 17 June 2008, is a ‘thank you’ to those who voted no.
Then comes a truism or admission, however it should be understood: In politics, it is easy to simply oppose.
This is followed by the post-referendum programme: We in Libertas will now reflect on the message from the Irish people, and begin the process of looking to build a positive alternative to the direction Europe is taking.
Begin the process of looking to build.
Ten days on, not much to go on, is there?
It almost defies imagination as results and political campaigns go.
He’s right. The eurosceptics must articulate their alternatives. What do Policy Exchange have to say? What will Tomorrow’s Europe look like, once the EU in its current form crashes and makes a new beginning possible? Will the europhiles get a second attempt at forming an EU after a ‘democratic surge’ as some of the above writing suggests?
Or will eurosceptics come up with something better – nations that trade freely, have better, faster growing and more stable economies, strong indentities and high democratic participation? Is it time to stop acting like the mackerel?