I would like to urge you to do all you can to support the No-to-Lisbon candidates in the EU-elections 5th June, in order of your preference.
To remind you of what is at stake with the Lisbon Treaty, may we send you below a summary of the main things it does, showing why all true democrats should oppose it.
This document has been vetted for legal accuracy by authorities on Irish constitutional and European law. It summarises the current state of play regarding the Government's proposed Lisbon Two referendum in October.
WHAT THE LISBON TREATY WOULD DO
A constitutional revolution: Lisbon would be a constitutional revolution in the EU and its Member States. It would give Government Ministers and the Big EU States huge new powers, while taking power away from ordinary citizens across the EU, and from the National Parliaments they elect. That is why only Ireland is being allowed a vote on it - because of our Constitution. Only we Irish can save democracy in the EU by refusing to allow ourselves to be bullied or bamboozled into overturning our rejection of Lisbon last year - thereby holding open for the people of Britain and our fellow countrymen and women in Northern Ireland the chance of voting No to Lisbon in a UK referendum next summer.
Overturning the people's vote: The Lisbon Treaty is the EU State Constitution which French and Dutch voters rejected in their 2005 referendums in new legal form. Irish voters rejected it in last year's referendum by 53% to 47%. All genuine democrats, including Yes-side voters, should respect that vote. Respecting it would have meant Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Foreign Minister Micheál Martin telling their EU partners that Ireland could not ratify Lisbon because Irish voters had rejected it, so that there was no point in their continuing to ratify it, as EU Treaties must be unanimous. Instead Messrs Cowen and Martin told the other EU Governments on the morning of the count to ignore their people's vote, to continue with ratifying Lisbon and that they would re-run the referendum on exactly the same Treaty, while pretending it has changed, so as to turn that No into a Yes.
Exactly the same Lisbon Treaty: Not a comma of the Lisbon Treaty will be changed for Lisbon Two. If Lisbon comes into force it will be interpreted by the EU Court of Justice and not on the basis of political declarations and promises by the EU Prime Ministers which the Government is trying to make out are significant, but which do not change the Treaty and are not legally binding as part of EU law. As pro-Lisbon journalist James Downey wrote in the Irish Independent on 21 March: "The antis are right about one thing, if one thing only. Any guarantees we may get on their concerns will be irrelevant, or worthless, or both."
A UK Referendum: There is now a race in time between the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which would greatly increase the power of the Big States and the Brussels Commission in the EU, and the coming to office of a new Government in Britain by next summer. Labour's Gordon Brown broke Tony Blair's promise to give the British people a referendum. David Cameron's policy is to hold a referendum on Lisbon in the UK and recommend a No vote to it to the British people - so long as we Irish do not change our No vote of last year and thereby bring Lisbon and the new undemocratic EU it would create into being for all 27 EU States first.
Denying citizens a vote: France's President Sarkozy has admitted that if Lisbon were put to referendum in other EU countries their voters would reject it too. That is why the EU Prime Ministers decided to refuse referendums on it everywhere, although opinion polls show that people in most Member States want to decide themselves whether they should be put under an EU Constitution which would override their National Constitutions
We remain full EU members: There is no question of Ireland being sidelined or pushed out of the EU if we stand by our No to Lisbon. As Ireland's EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said last December: "There is no provision in the existing treaties to isolate anybody. There is no provision to throw out anybody, unless unanimously all the existing members of the club agreed to throw you out. And I doubt, now or in the future, any Irish Government is going to unanimously agree to throw themselves out."
Millions of Europeans support us: By voting No we remain full members of the EU based on the existing Nice Treaty, but we reject the proposed Lisbon Treaty as a step too far. Millions of our fellow Europeans who are being denied referendums on Lisbon by their Brussels-subservient politicians are hoping that we will say No again for their sakes. We can thereby open the way for a better Treaty for a better and more democratic Europe..
The economic crisis: All 27 EU Members are in economic crisis. Ireland is worse than most because of the borrowing binge which was encouraged by the same cosy cartel of political parties as are now seeking to push through the Lisbon Treaty. The crisis makes Lisbon's model of a deregulated privatised let-it-rip EU out-of-date. Lisbon's proposal to give the Big States from 50-100% more voting power in the EU, while halving Ireland's voting weight, would be economically disastrous for us.
Remember the reasons most Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty/Constitution last year. It would.....
1. Be a power-grab by the Big States for control of the EU. By basing EU law-making primarily on population size, the Lisbon Treaty would double Germany's voting weight on the EU Council of Ministers from its present 8% under the Nice Treaty to 17%. France's vote would go from 8% to 13%, Britain's and Italy's from their current 8% each to 12% each, while Ireland's voting weight would be halved from 2% to 0.8% (Art.16 TEU) (*See Note 1 below on how voting strengths in making EU laws would change).
2. Abolish our present right to "propose" and decide who the Irish Commissioner is, by replacing it with a right to make"suggestions" only for the incoming Commission President to decide (Art.17.7 TEU). The Commission, which is apppointed not elected, has the monopoly of proposing all European laws. Our No vote last year secured us a commitment to a permanent Commissioner. But what is the point of every EU State continuing to have its own Commissioner post-Lisbon when it can no longer decide who that Commissioner will
be? Under the present Nice Treaty Ireland would continue to decide that, and can continue too to have an Irish Commissioner indefinitely as well. (*See Note 2 below explaining how).
3. Permit the post-Lisbon EU to impose Europe-wide taxes directly on us for the first time without need for further Treaties or referendums (Art.311 TFEU). This could be any kind of tax - income tax, sales tax, property tax - so long as it was agreed unanimously by EU Governments. If they get Lisbon through, Government Ministers would have every incentive to agree to give the EU much increased "own resources" by introducing European taxes to finance the many new functions the EU would obtain under the Treaty.
4. Hand over to the EU the power to make laws binding on us in 32 new policy areas, such as public services, crime, justice and policing, immigration, energy, transport, tourism, sport, culture, public health and the EU budget. Ireland would lose the national veto it has at present in the policy areas concerned, and the Dáil and Irish voters who elect the Dáil would no longer decide laws or policy for these areas.
5. Establish a legally quite new European Union in the constitutional form of a supranational Federal-style State. This post-Lisbon EU would for the first time be legally separate from and superior to its 27 Member States (Arts.1 and 47 TEU; Declaration No.17 concerning Primacy). It would have the same name but would be constitutionally profoundly different from the present EU, which was founded by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. Lisbon would abolish the existing European Community which Ireland joined in 1973. It would give the EU its own legal personality for the first time, separate from and superior to its Member States, so that it could sign international Treaties with other States in all areas of its powers. In constitutional terms Lisbon would thereby turn Ireland into a regional or provincial state within this new Federal-style Union, with the EU's Constitution and laws being made legally superior to the Irish Constitution and laws in any cases of conflict between the two. The EU Court of Justice would decide such conflicts. Constitutionally and in the eyes of others this would be the end of Ireland's position as an independent sovereign State in the international community of States. Although we would retain some of the trappings of independent statehood from pre-Lisbon days, in reality we would be more like a regional or provincial state such as Bavaria inside Federal Germany or Massachussetts inside the USA. From the inside the EU would seem to be based on a Treaty between States, but from the outside it would look like a State itself. The only major power of a State the EU would lack post-Lisbon would be the power to force its members to go to war against their will, although they could do so voluntarily on the EU's behalf (*See Notes 3 and 5 below on the constitutional revolution the Lisbon Treaty would bring about) .
6. Turn us all into real citizens for the first time of this new post-Lisbon European Union, owing obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our obedience and loyalty to Ireland and the Irish Constitution and laws in the event of any conflict between the two. One can only be a citizen of a State. and all States must have citizens. Article 9 TEU would give us an "additional" EU citizenship, on top of our Irish citizenship. This would be a real EU citizenship for the first time, with associated citizens' rights and duties, and would be quite different from the notional or symbolical EU "citizenship" of today. We would retain our Irish citizenship, but it would be subordinate to our EU citizenship in any case of conflict, as is the case with citizens of such Federal States as Germany, the USA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada. (* See Note 4 below)
7. Give the EU Court of Justice the power to decide our rights as EU citizens by making the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding for the first time. This Charter includes such rights as the right to fair trial, the right to life, the rights of the child, the right to strike, the right to property etc. - all of them rights which we already have under the Irish Constitution, but which for people as EU citizens it would fall to the EU Court of Justice, not Ireland's courts, to interpret and decide. This would give power to EU judges to lay down a uniform standard of rights for 500 million EU citizens across the post-Lisbon European Union. It would open the possibility of clashes with national human rights standards in sensitive areas where Member States differ from one another at present, e.g. trial by jury, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, hard drugs, euthanasia, abortion, labour law, succession law, marriage law, children's rights etc. Ireland's Supreme Court and the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights would no longer have the final say on what our rights are (Art.6 TEU).
8. Enable the 27 EU Prime Ministers to appoint an EU President for up to five years without allowing voters any say as to who he or she would be - thereby abolishing the present six-monthly rotating EU presidencies (Art.15.5 TEU). Appointment rather than democratic election to this and other top EU jobs typifies the undemocratic nature of the proposed Lisbon Constitution. It is the Prime Ministers of the Big States who would have the key say in filling them because of the big increase in their voting weight under Lisbon.
9. Amend the existing treaties to give the EU Court of Justice the power to harmonise indirect taxes if it decides that this causes a "distortion of competition" in the EU market (Art.113 TFEU) . This should strengthen the hand of the Court in using the EU's internal market rules to subvert Ireland's low 12.5% company tax rate, which is the principal reason foreign firms come to Ireland and stay here when they come. Compare Germany's 30% company tax rate. Commission plans for a harmonised tax base in the EU, the precursor of harmonised tax rates, have been put on the back-burner until after Lisbon Two for fear they would scare Irish voters.
10. Be a self-amending Treaty which would permit the EU Prime Ministers to shift most of the remaining policy areas where unanimity is required and a national veto still exists, to qualified majority voting on the EU Council of Ministers, without a need for further EU Treaties or referendums (Art.48 TEU).
11. Militarize the EU further, requiring Member States "progressively to improve their military capabilities"(Art.42.3 TEU) and to aid and assist other Member States experiencing armed attack "by all the means in their power" (Art.42.7 TEU).
12. Reintroduce the death penalty "in time of war or of imminent threat of war" for possible future supranational EU forces by providing for the post-Lisbon EU to accede as a corporate entity, separate from its Member States, to Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which permits the use of the death penalty on these occasions, rather than to Protocol 13 which bans the death penalty in all circumstances and to which the EU's Member States have acceded (Art.6 TEU; Explanation on Art.2, EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).
13. Copperfasten the Laval and related judgements of the EU Court of Justice, which make it illegal for Trade Unions or Governments to enforce pay standards higher than the minimum wage for migrant workers. At the same time Lisbon would give the EU full control of immigration policy (Art.79 TFEU). This combination threatens the pay and working conditions of many Irish people. A Protocol in a new Treaty that was different from Lisbon would be needed to set aside the Laval and related court judgements.
14. Increase the influence of the European Parliament in making EU laws in 19 new policy areas, while reducing the power of National Parliaments to make laws in 49 such areas. Lisbon would entitle one-third of the National Parliaments or 1 million EU citizens to request the EU Commission to propose a new EU law or to abandon a proposed law, but the Commission need not accede to any such request (Art.11 TEU; Protocol No. 2). Lisbon underlines the implicitly subordinate role of National Parliaments in the institutional structure of the post-Lisbon EU by laying down that"National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union" by various means that are set out in Art.12 TEU.
*Note 1: Voting to make EU laws: Under the present Nice Treaty Germany, France, Britain and Italy have 29 votes each in making EU laws and Ireland has 7. An EU law requires a majority of EU States to cast 255 votes in favour out of 345. This is the Nice-based "double majority" rule. Under the proposed Lisbon double majority rule an EU law must be passed by 55% of Member States, i.e. 15 out of 27, so long as the 15 make up 65% of the total EU population. Germany has four times Ireland's vote now under Nice: 29 as against 7. Under Lisbon Germany's voting weight would be 20 times Ireland's, for it has 82 million people as against Ireland's 4.3. Under Lisbon France, Britain and Italy would each have 15 times Ireland's voting weight. Germany and France between them have one-third of the EU's population. Under the proposed Lisbon rules they would need only two small countries to vote with them to block any EU law they did not like.
*Note 2: Keeping Ireland's Commissioner under Nice: The Nice Treaty requires the number of Commissioners to be fewer than the number of Member States from 2009, without specifying a number and any change must be agreed unanimously (Art.4, Protocol on Enlargement). This can be done by reducing the number of Commissioners from 27 to 26, which would mean Ireland would lose its Commissioner every 135 years. Alternatively, the country whose national is given the job of EU Foreign Minister could be represented by that person on the Commission. So there would be no need for any country to lose a Commissioner under Nice, unless they were compensated by having one of their nationals given this bigger job instead.
*Note 3: Ireland's proposed Constitutional Amendment: The first sentence of the proposed Constitutional Amendment which Irish voters rejected last summer and which they are being asked to change their minds on in October, shows that Lisbon would establish a legally new European Union which would have the same name but would politically and constitutionally be very different from the present Nice/Maastricht Treaty-based EU: "The State may ratify the Treaty of Lisbon signed at Lisbon on the 13th day of December 2007, and may be a member of the European Union established by virtue of that Treaty. No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by membership of the European Union, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said European Union or by institutions ther eof, or by bodies competent under the treaties referred to in this section, from having the force of law in the State." (emphasis added)
*Note 4: EU Citizenship: Under the present Nice Treaty EU citizenship is stated to "complement" national citizenship (Art.17 TEC). This is purely notional or symbolical, for the present EU is not a State, and one can only be a citizen of a State. Neither does the present EU have legal personality, so it cannot have individuals as members. That would change under Lisbon, which would make citizenship of the legally new Union "additional to" national citizenship (Art.9 TEU). This would be a real Federal citizenship, with associated rights and duties vis-à-vis the new EU, which would override one's national citizenship in any case of conflict between the two.
*Note 5: Lisbon's Constitutional Revolution: The Lisbon Treaty proposes to "constitute" or set up a legally new European Union while retaining the same name, by amending the two existing European Treaties rather than by replacing these completely with a formally titled "Constitution", as the Treaty which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums sought to do. This original constitutional Treaty was entitled the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. When the French and Dutch rejected it, the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents decided to get an EU Constitution through indirectly rather than directly, without using the word "Constitution", for they realised that that word alarmed people and made too obvious the constitutional revolution being proposed. The result is the Lisbon Treaty.
Because the Lisbon Treaty consists of a long series of amendments to the two existing European Treaties, one can only understand what it would do by referring to the latter Treaties as they would be if amended by Lisbon. This document does that. The Constitution of the proposed new post-Lisbon European Union would therefore be the two existing European Treaties as they would be when and if they were amended by the Lisbon Treaty. These would be the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union (TFEU). The two Treaties would have the same legal value (Art.1 TEU). The second of these, the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union, would be the new name for the present second Treaty, the Treaty Establishing the European Community (TEC), for Lisbon would abolish the existing European Community that Ireland joined in 1973.
In legal content and effect the Lisbon Treaty is virtually 100% the same as the Constitutional Treaty which the French and Dutch rejected, except that the word "Constitution" is not used. Both Treaties would abolish the existing European Community and the Nice/Maastricht-based European Union and establish in their place a constitutionally new European Union with its own legal personality, which would be legally separate from and superior to its Member States for the first time.
Lisbon, like its predecessor, would then confer a real"additional" EU citizenship, with accompanying EU citizens'rights and duties, on the 500 million citizens of the 27 Member States, without most of them being aware of it or being allowed any direct say on it. At the same time the same name, "The European Union", would be retained for the post-Lisbon EU as for the existing Nice/Maastricht-based EU, even though the new Union's constitutional-political character would be fundamentally altered.
Those pushing this great deception hope that ordinary citizens and the media in the 27 Member States will not notice the constitutional revolution which Lisbon seeks to bring about - for the EU itself and for its Member States - until after it is accomplished. People are to be sleep-walked into becoming citizens of an EU Federation without knowing it. Hence the decision of the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents in 2005 to avoid referendums on this proposed constitutional revolution at all costs, in case people might be alerted and protest.