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Lisbon Treaty: Three Strikes, You’re Out

category international | eu | feature author Wednesday August 12, 2009 19:37author by Harry Van Bommel - Dutch Socialist Party

An Article Written Especially for by Harry Van Bommel, European Affairs Spokesman of the Dutch Socialist Party

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Harry Van Bommel

In 2005 the Dutch people overwhelmingly said ‘no’ to the constitutional treaty, just as the French had done some days before. In contrast to the Irish, this was the first time the Dutch people had been allowed a say about the future of Europe; and they made it clear that they didn’t like the way it was heading. Did they want to get out of the EU? No - the Dutch are big supporters of EU membership, just like the Irish, but they don’t want Europe to develop into a federal superstate.

Instead of changing the EU’s direction, our government [the Dutch government] insisted on changing the appearance of the treaty, which was blamed for the ‘misunderstanding’ by the Dutch people. All the governments of the European Union’s member states pitched in to offer to help the Dutch and others to avoid new referenda. Our government took the unilateral decision that no new referendum was needed, because now, stripped of its symbols and re-baptised as the ‘Lisbon Treaty’, the treaty was no longer deemed ‘constitutional’. My own parliamentary initiative for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was stranded by a blockade of the governing coalition parties.

Luckily the Irish constitution is better at protecting its citizens against the giving away of their country’s sovereign power by its politicians than is ours, in that it makes a referendum on the treaty obligatory. Sovereignty is not something to be given and taken away by politicians, but belongs to the people. Even the recent ruling of the German Federal Supreme Court forces the German Government to make arrangements to secure the power of the country’s parliament against the changes made by the Lisbon Treaty. As it rightly states, the European Parliament is no substitute for the national parliaments, which are the primary representatives of their people. Handing the European Parliament more powers is no excuse for taking them away from national parliaments.

But the EU doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer - not from the French, not from the Dutch and not from the Irish. So, after you wisely said ‘no’ to the treaty, a new scam was organised. On all the justifiable worries of the Irish people - on the threat of a European influence on taxation, abortion law, social provision, and neutrality in time of war, texts have now been produced which say bluntly that the Irish people should not worry and were wrong all the time. When I asked our prime minister what these guarantees would change in the Lisbon Treaty, his reply was that the Irish government had agreed that "all guarantees would be in keeping with the Lisbon Treaty." The demand from other member states was, in so many words, "no special status for Ireland when it comes to the question of neutrality." But how can Ireland be neutral while at the same time troops operate abroad under an EU flag and therefore also in the name of Ireland, a practice that will increase should the Lisbon Treaty be adopted?

To win over the Irish people, the European Commission has also launched this year a multimillion dollar ‘information’ campaign. This is nothing but one-sided propaganda at the expense of the taxpayer.

So again the Irish people may vote - on exactly the same treaty. On the last occasion the Irish people voted in the name of all other European peoples, including the Dutch, who were deemed by their own politicians unfit to judge the treaty. Now, the Irish may not only vote on the Lisbon Treaty a.k.a. the Constitutional Treaty, but also have the chance to send a message to all the European leaders: that power belongs to the people, and when they say ‘no’ it means ‘no’. After the rejection of the treaty by the French and Dutch, and last year by the Irish people, this third time I have trust that the Irish will say, in relation to the Lisbon Treaty: three strikes - you’re out.

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