The European Union effort to impose the Lisbon Treaty on its citizens was jeopardized by the referendum in Ireland. Despite the fact that the results of the vote were very close – 53,4% against the treaty – and Ireland was the only country that conducted a referendum, it is a heavy blow for the EU authorities. Remaining 26 countries have slipped out from the obligation of voting on treaty by forswearing their law doesn’t require it or that their nations elected pro-treaty authorities and so the referendum is not required.
“This is a very clear and loud voice that has been sent yet again by citizens of Europe rejecting the antidemocratic nature of Brussels governance,” said Declan Ganley, leader of Libertas, the most prominent anti-treaty campaign group in Ireland. But was it really clear and loud voice? What was the main issue of voting against the treaty? Wasn’t it as good as the politicians were claiming?
First of all, we should notice that after the fall of the so-called European constitution in mid-2005 (France and Netherlands voted against it in a referendum), Brussels bureaucrat were looking for speedy resolutions. A lot of Europeans don’t realize that the currently binding international law doesn’t give the European Union real subjectivity. In fact, EU doesn’t exist at all – at least for now. The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (full name of European constitution project) and its successor – the Lisbon Treaty – were created on purpose of unifying the existing two communities: EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community) and European Community (main economic pillar of the European Union). This process was meant to lead to the situation in which the European Union would be finally formed.
It is understandable that after the European constitution’s failure, there will be another attempt made. All the EU member countries were willing to continue the integration process. However, the politicians had not drawn any conclusions from their defeat. Nobody cared about the most important part of the Union – its citizens. The effort of explaining the new Treaty was once again close to zero. Almost all discussions were about why we should be on board, instead of giving the people right to know and to decide on their own. But this time European politicians hit on an idea how to put the treaty through. Basing on the text of the European constitution, the disputed preamble was deleted and the font’s size was decreased, giving texts significantly smaller. Thanks to that, the Lisbon Treaty could be now called “just an act of agreement”, The Reform Treaty (“constitution” was such a heavy word) and in turn would not need a referendum… well, at least they thought so. The only state that refused to omit the referendum was Ireland – country that made a fortune on the accession to the European Union. In one day Europe’s wunderkind became enfant terrible.
The result of the Irish referendum shattered European hopes for quick and streamlined integration but I must say that I am happy with it. This process is going in wrong direction for some time. What Europe need is not a centralized administration with thousands of officers. If we want our economies to burgeon and our cultures to be stronger, with preservation of the individual character of every nation, we have to build a new compromise on cooperation and confidence – and not political argument.