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Open Letter to UCD Economist Colm McCarthy

category national | eu | opinion/analysis author Monday April 30, 2012 20:02author by O.O'C. - National Platform EU Research & Information Centreauthor address 24 Crawford Avenue Dublin 9author phone 01-8305792 Report this post to the editors

By Anthony Coughlan, Trinity College

Professor Colm McCarthy
Department of Economics
Dublin 4

Sunday 29 April 2012

Dear Colm,

I am writing to you to make some points arising from your comments on the so-called Fiscal Treaty and the referendum on it on RTE’s Morning Ireland last Tuesday morning.

You made a small error, if I may say so, when you said on the radio on Tuesday that the Fiscal Treaty can come into force when 12 of its 25 signatory States have ratified it. In fact it requires ratification by 12 of the 17 Eurozone States for it to come into force. Ratification by the eight signatory non-Eurozone States does not count for that purpose (See Art. 14 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU).

Minister Leo Varadkar, who should have known better, made the same mistake on Vincent Browne ‘s TV3 programme last Wednesday, and Prime Time made it similarly last Thursday.

I do not know if you are aware that this issue of the Fiscal Treaty and, more importantly, the ESM Treaty being able to be ratified without unanimity amongst all 17 Eurozone countries is arguably in breach of EU law and the existing EU Treaties. This issue of a unanimity requirement for these two Eurozone Treaties is at the heart of current constitutional challenges to the ESM Treaty in Germany, Estonia and – as announced in the Dail last week – here in Ireland.

This ESM Treaty requires us to stump up €11 billion in different forms of callable capital to the proposed ESM loan fund, €1.6 billion up front "irrevocably and unconditionally" - a figure that may be raised thereafter without limi(Art. 8 ESM Treaty) . And there is much more in the ESM Treaty that should make people worried. I wonder have you thought through the implications of this?

Both the Fiscal Treaty and the ESM Treaty are not EU treaties, as you know, but formally speaking are ”intergovernmental” treaties for the 17 Eurozone countries. They can only come into being however – because they affect monetary policy in the Monetary Union, that being an “exclusive competence” of the EU – on the basis of an authorization or license which requires an amendment to the EU Treaties. All 27 EU States, including Ireland, must agree to that authorizing amendment, and that authorisation has not yet been constitutionally approved here.

This authorization is given in a two-sentence amendment to Article 136 of one of the two primary EU Treaties, the Treaty on the Functioning, of the European Union, which reads: “The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under this mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.

You will note that the authorization says “THE Member States , not “Member States” or “SOME” Member States , but rather all of them. Yet the Fiscal Treaty as it stands provides that it can come into force when 12 Eurozone States have ratified it, and the ESM Treaty provides that it comes into force and the Stability Mechanism which it proposes may be established once States contributing 90% of the capital to the ESM fund have ratified that.

A simple calculation based on the contributions set out in the Annex to the ESM Treaty shows that the eight largest Eurozone countries would contribute 90% of this capital so that, as the ESM Treaty stands, a minority of the 17 Eurozone States could bring the ESM into being. How then can the Stability Mechanism which it purports to establish be “for the euro area as a whole”, as required by the Art.136 amendment which authorises it?

More fundamentally, how can the ESM Treaty for the 17 Eurozone States be enabled to put the EMU which Ireland acceded to under Maastricht and Lisbon on an entirely new economic and legal basis when monetary policy for the euro area is an “exclusive EU competence” – and not a matter just for the Eurozone countries . . . and when the rules for EMU, including the Art.125 ban on Government bailouts and the 3% and 60% of GDP excessive deficit rules plus their enforcement mechanisms, are clearly set out in the existing EU Treaties and override all other laws and treaties for Member States of the Union?

If those original rules of the EMU had been enforced, the Eurozone countries would not now be in the mess they are in. Ireland complied with the excessive deficit rules of the EMU in the early 2000s, but when Germany and France broke them in 2003 and 2004 they were set aside, as you know, and the enforcement provisions in the Treaties – including heavy fines – were not applied. If they had been there would have been no need of bailouts and the Article 125 ban on bailouts would make perfect sense, for it would never have come into contention.

Now Germany, France and others want to get round the existing EU Treaty rules, and especially the Article 125 ban on bailouts, by means of the ESM Treaty for the Eurozone. The “Stability Mechanism” which this treaty envisages - and one can imagine all sorts of other Stability Mechanisms that would conform to EU law - is essentially a Bank or fund which would lend directly to Eurozone Governments that might be in trouble as the European Central Bank is forbidden from doing this by Article 125 TFEU.

But the EU is supposed to be a creature of law, and the Irish Constitution is obliged to uphold EU law. If the Eurozone States, having got themselves into their current mess, want to set up a structure for the EMU based on quite different rules which would effectively permit direct bailouts for Governments and the setting aside of the “no-bailout” article in the Treaties, they have to amend the EU Treaties with the agreement of all 27 Member States, and not just by means of a special treaty amendment for the 17 which flouts the express terms of the Article 136 TFEU authorization on which the ESM Treaty depends. To attempt to do that latter would effectively be to run a legal coach-and-horses through EU law and the existing EU Treaties in the Franco-German political interest.

You spoke on the radio yesterday and unfortunately gave the impression to those listening as if the ESM were a pot of gold which we would be excluded from getting access to if we were so foolish as to vote No to the Fiscal Treaty. Your comments were repeated on the evening TV news and I have no doubt they will be quoted repeatedly by Yes-side propagandists during the Fiscal Treaty referendum campaign if the Government does not have the good sense to put this referendum off until we can hold it alongside a referendum on the ESM Treaty and the Art.136 amendment to the EU Treaties which authorizes the ESM Treaty.

Such a referendum will almost certainly have to be held anyway, whether as a result of the Attorney-General’s advice in due course or as a result of the constitutional challenge to the ESM Treaty which Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle is taking in order to defend the Irish Constitution and EU law which it upholds and which should come up in the High Court during May when the Government has responded to his Statement of Claim, which I understand has been sent to the Solicitor-General.

I ask you would it not be foolish of Irish voters to change their Constitution so as to impose a maximum public deficit rule of 0.5% and a permanent balanced budget rule on Irish Governments for the indefinite future in order to obtain access to a proposed Eurozone loan fund, when this fund does not yet exist, when the ESM Treaty which would establish it has not yet been ratified and may well never be ratified, and when the ratification of that treaty will almost certainly require a separate referendum to be held on it in Ireland anyway?

That is why I would like to suggest to you that if one takes account of the Fiscal Treaty’s “complementary” treaty, the ESM Treaty - which, incidentally, the Government has promised the other Eurozone States it will have ratified by July! - the most rational course for people to take in relation to the Fiscal Treaty is really to vote No to it and to call for a referendum on the ESM Treaty and its Art.136 authorising amendment to be taken together with a possible second referendum on the Fiscal Treaty, when the full implications of the whole interconnected caboodle have been properly considered by the Irish public and media.

In my opinion, if the Government looked at the matter rationally it would welcome such a development as being in the country’s best interests. For if people vote No to the Fiscal Treaty referendum on 31 May that referendum can easily be run again - as long as it is done alongside a referendum on the ESM Treaty and the Art. 136 amendment to the primary EU Treaties authorizing that – for Ireland has a veto on the latter.

My reason for suggesting this is that if a referendum were required in this State on the ESM Treaty and its authorizing Art.136 amendment, the Eurozone could not establish the permanent ESM loan fund which they want to set up unless they have Ireland’s agreement. We need to use that veto, not ignore it.

This is how Ireland could get access to real money, real relief on our public debts and a fundamental transformation in the State’s financial position. The alternative is to look for relief to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s wholly mythical pot of ESM gold, which does not yet exist and may well never do so in its present mooted form because of the illegality under EU law of its mode of establishment and its unconstitutionality under the Irish Constitution. A No vote on 31 May opens for us a way to real money; a Yes vote makes us look like fools.

The course of action outlined here would put Ireland in a powerful bargaining position - as nothing else can do - to get massive write-downs on our State debt, a cancellation of those draconic promissory notes and all the rest. It could even put us in a position to give a lead across Europe in urging an expansive, growth-oriented policy on the Eurozone instead of the current austerity that is clearly not working.

This would of course require the Government to show some gumption vis-a-vis the Eurozone authorities instead of bowing to them spinelessly out of misplaced and outdated Europhilia. If Ministers fear offending Germany and France by deciding independently to hold a referendum on the ESM Treaty and Art.136 TFEU, they should be praying instead that Thomas Pringle TD’s constitutional challenge will succeed.

Forgive me for going on at such length. But if there is a real possibility of such a position being attained by holding these referendums on the ESM Treaty, would it not be utter folly for us not to take it? Germany, France and the rest would have no alternative but to oblige us if they wanted Irish voters to say Yes in such an ESM Treaty referendum, for their €700 billion loan fund would depend on it.

That is why in my opinion genuine Eurofederalists who oppose the Franco-German takeover-bid for the EMU which is currently occurring through these two Eurozone Treaties, as well as longstanding Eurocritics like myself and my colleagues who are opposed to further surrender of what is left of Irish sovereignty, have an objective interest in uniting to defend the integrity of the EU Treaties as they stand against this Franco-German scheme to make the Eurozone their captive.

For what Germany and France are planning in their takeover-bid for the Eurozone and their proposals to change radically the EMU which Irish voters voted for under Maastricht and Lisbon, would radically alter the EU for the worse and push it in a profoundly undemocratic and anti-social direction.

Europhiles as well as Eurocritics could thus validly be urged to vote No to the Fiscal Treaty in order to hold the EU together!

Maybe you would consider these points and whether you think they have any merit. If you cared to meet to have a chat about these treaties and related matters for lunch or over a drink any day, I should be glad to meet you at any time or place that suited you.

With best regards
Yours sincerely

Anthony Coughlan
Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin

PS. Because of the public interest character of this matter, I hope you do not mind too much if I circulate copies of this as an "Open Letter" to the media for their information.

Related Link: http://www.nationalplatform.org
author by leftypublication date Wed May 02, 2012 09:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good letter Anthony! I hope it's widely read!

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Wed May 02, 2012 11:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Once again, he has done the nation(and beyond)more than a small service.

I'm circulating it westwards. The Merkozy Kartel needs its gallop checked. Distinct sniff of Trojan horseshit amplifying.

author by Martinpublication date Sun May 06, 2012 19:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anthony well done as usual on an apt and timely intervention.

How stands the latest booklet from Govt with an intro lauding the benefits of the Treaty and the Supreme Court ruling out (McKenna ?)state funding to elevate one side of the debate ?

author by W. Finnertypublication date Mon May 07, 2012 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"We don't really have a Government of the Republic of Ireland anymore."

"What we've now got is a highly paid Group of Lobbyists (with Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches) who -- for years -- have been very vigorously lobbying the voters of the Republic of Ireland on behalf of the kleptocrats and despots operating out of the City of London and Wall Street: while PRETENDING to be acting in the best interests of the People of the Republic of Ireland."

"Plus, by way of some exquisite "window-dressing" for this fraudulent and treasonous ESM (European Stability Mechanism) "game" -- and for the sole purpose of fooling the public, and NOT for informing them -- we can also now no doubt look forward to public "referendum debate/s" very soon between the "Party Leaders": all meticulously and carefully stage managed by RTE (State Broadcaster) and suchlike; and, which will be important not for the issues which are debated, but for all the crucially important ones which are slyly and very deliberately KEPT OUT of the debate/s: such as, for example, "derivatives gambling" by the bankers, and the "fractional-reserve lending" which continues to fraudulently add to the hundreds of trillions of Euros created "out of thin-air" (from nowhere out of nothing) for the purpose of feeding the ongoing "bankers gambling habits": the massive associated debts (plus interest!!) of which the 99% get saddled with."

As can be seen at the first www address provided below, an attempt has been made earlier today to bring the matters referred to in the three excerpts above to the attention of some senior United Nations officials using an e-mail.

The full text of the e-mail used, which contains a number of Internet hyperlinks not available in plain-text, and which was copied to (among others) an international selection of senior lawyers, politicians, journalists, and economists, can be viewed at the following location:

Related Link:

author by W. Finnertypublication date Tue May 08, 2012 13:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Although I'm no supporter of Hitler's overall policies, not by a very long way, and particularly with regard to his outrageous human rights abuses and atrocities, there is nonetheless very strong evidence to suggest that he got his "national money-supply" problems EXACTLY right:

"Hitler began a national credit program by devising a plan of public works that included flood control, repair of public buildings and private residences, and construction of new roads, bridges, canals, and port facilities. All these were paid for with money that no longer came from the private international bankers."

"The projected cost of these various programs was fixed at one billion units of the national currency. To pay for this, the German government (not the international bankers) issued bills of exchange, called Labor Treasury Certificates. In this way the National Socialists put millions of people to work, and paid them with Treasury Certificates."

"Under the National Socialists, Germany’s money wasn’t backed by gold (which was owned by the international bankers). It was essentially a receipt for labor and materials delivered to the government. Hitler said, 'For every mark issued, we required the equivalent of a mark’s worth of work done, or goods produced.' The government paid workers in Certificates. Workers spent those Certificates on other goods and services, thus creating more jobs for more people. In this way the German people climbed out of the crushing debt imposed on them by the international bankers."

"Within two years, the unemployment problem had been solved, and Germany was back on its feet. It had a solid, stable currency, with no debt, and no inflation, at a time when millions of people in the United States and other Western countries (controlled by international bankers) were still out of work. Within five years, Germany went from the poorest nation in Europe to the richest."

The above excerpts are from the following location:

In reality, the "national money supply tactic" outlined above was neither new, nor unique to Adolf Hitler and his Government.

In the 1860s, for example, Economist Henry Charles Carey (whose father was born in Ireland) helped US President Abraham Lincoln to devise a similar "national money supply system" to that outlined in the excerpts above, by using paper US dollars which became known as "Greenbacks": because both of these people wanted to avoid the "banksters" taking over control of the United States of America. One hundred years or so later, President John F Kennedy and his brother (Attorney General Robert Kennedy) started acting on similar plans to those of President Lincoln.

The "greenback" national money supply system worked extremely well, and President Lincoln -- of "government of the people, by the people, for the people" fame -- was very strongly recommending it to the whole world.

Of course the mere MENTION (God forbid that anybody might EVER do such an extremely dangerous thing!!) of the Republic of Ireland copying what Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy did, in this time of great "national money supply" trouble for the Republic of Ireland, is enough to have the Global Banking Cartel Leaders "pissing froth" in zero time; and, there are many, including myself, who suspect that the fact all three (i.e. President Lincoln and the two Kennedy brothers) died of gunshot wounds, may have been more than mere coincidence: particularly since their "national money supply" plans all died with them at the same time (in the case of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy).

Related Link:

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Tue May 08, 2012 14:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think Angie baby's use of the Euro as her national-state serving currency is not too far from Adolf's.

Today's FT says Germany is booming..while sucking the marrow from the periphery...just as Hitler's reich economy boomed at the expense of the eastern european treasuries he pillaged to finance their own occupation and evisceration.

A model for it all might be the recent announcement that we will not just pay for our water, but for the necessary meters and their installation.

As though we were not paying for them every time we get hit for VAT and all the other surcharges...most of my electric bill is taxes of one label or another..laminated layers of extractive creative accountancy.

The Euro, and the original 'social Europe' model are now reined in home to serve the financial reich..which of course includes the City of London bondholders and their offshore minnions...the German public, like the US and British, will be fed enough crumbs to keep them on side with our flagellation, just as we are kept on-side while Africa and Latin America are rifled.

author by leftypublication date Tue May 08, 2012 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

William has a good point here regarding the greenback / german certificates.

None other than renowned economist Professor steve keene stated on Irish national television that he thought this idea of a parallel currency the punt pegged at one euro in value but not traded on the forex could probably work in Ireland.

The government could print its own currency and introduce these punts into the economy as the german and american governments did, in return for labour, say on much needed infrastructure projects like schools or a decent public transportation system etc. these punts could then be used to buy goods and services hence building up the local economy. The government could also take them out of circulation through taxation if required.

This idea amongst others has been framed out of the national discourse. No doubt because it actually might work, leaving the banksters without their gambling money on the backs of Irish workers, or preventing them privatising our lucrative utilities and infrastructure.


author by W. Finnertypublication date Tue May 08, 2012 18:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Reply to "lefty" at Tue May 08, 2012 14:51

I'd fully support that idea of yours: particularly if it resulted in the severing of all dependency on the Global Banking Cartel for our national money supply.

I believe the Republic of Ireland should provide itself with its its own debt-free and interest-free money supply: for its own responsible needs and purposes. Otherwise, it cannot truthfully claim to be an independent sovereign nation state: which we fully deserve to be, and have every right to be (in my opinion).

The whole idea of the Republic of Ireland "borrowing" its money from the Global Banking Cartel, who create it out of nothing, and then charge us interest on it, looks like pure unadulterated madness to me. By such completely unnecessary and totally avoidable borrowing, we place ourselves in a position of making ourselves doubly indebted to the Global Banking Cartel: i.e. for the "loan", and for the interest on the "loan".

The sooner this "borrowing" madness ends, the better I would like it: particularly the "borrowing" which is being used to pay off the bankers derivatives gambling debts (thought to be in the region of 1,000 trillion Euros the last time I looked): irresponsible payments which are fuelling yet more of the same kind of irresponsible gambling.

Collectively, it seems to me that our Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) badly needs to have its head examined regarding the way it appears to be so enthusiastic about its continuing efforts to support the Global Banking Cartel and all its socially destructive ways and works: not least the ESM impunity arrangements, which are designed to "lawfully" enable the Global Banking Cartel to commit crime with impunity. The cheek of the bastards!!

"Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere."

The Global Banking Cartel should be shown the door: and the sooner the better.

That's how I see the situation at least.

Related Link: http://www.humanrightsireland.com/
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