The EU Empire
April 8, 2008 19:43 | by Brian Denny
The people of Ireland have a chance to decide their country's future when the Lisbon Treaty comes up for a referendum. But Brian Denny warns that the EU is preparing to ignore them.
It will not surprise readers to learn that the European Parliament recently approved the Lisbon Treaty - the repackaged EU constitution already rejected by French and the Dutch voters.
What is perhaps shocking is the fact that MEPs also rejected a simple amendment asking that the European Parliament "undertake to respect the outcome of the referendum in Ireland" to be held in June. The amendment was rejected by 499 MEPs. Only 129 voted in favour and 33 abstained, meaning that the vast majority could not give a damn about what the Irish people say about the Lisbon Treaty.
Among those voting not to respect the referendum result in Ireland was Irish MEP Proinsias de Rossa, who revealed that his loyalties lay with the EU and not with the Irish people.
The hypocrisy of these latter-day empire loyalists was also revealed by European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering, who declared solemnly that the vote "was an expression of the free will of the peoples you represent."
As long, of course, as you don't actually ask them.
You may not be surprised to learn that this is not the first time that EU institutions have given mendacity a bad name. Lisbon is a revamped version of the treaty which gave the EU its own constitution superior to the constitutions of its member states, but rejected in referendums in 2005. Instead of accepting that decision, EU politicians decided to impose the EU constitution indirectly rather than directly, by not calling it a constitution, and on no account to hold referendums on it for fear people would reject it again.
Former French president Valery Giscard D'Estaing even told us how it would be done.
"Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way."
However, the Irish constitution maintains that sovereignty rests with the Irish people and that only they can surrender sovereignty to the EU by referendum or not, as the case may be. Lisbon would make the EU constitution and laws superior to the Irish constitution and laws in all areas covered by the treaty, so the Dublin government must hold a referendum, much to the chagrin of the EU.
What is not commonly understood in this country - including the many MPs who recently opposed a referendum call on the constitution - is that, if the treaty is passed, EU institutions will have superior powers to the member states. The European Commission, which consists of nominated public servants, has the monopoly of proposing all EU laws. They are then imposed by the Council of Ministers mostly on the basis of qualified majority voting. The European Parliament, which is the only directly elected EU body, cannot propose any law. This so-called parliament can propose amendments to these laws, but cannot impose them unless the Commission and Council of Ministers agree.
The European Court of Justice interprets the treaties in specific court cases in a manner which tends to extend EU powers ever further over more than 500 million people. This unaccountable court has recently ruled in two cases that trade unions do not, after all, have a fundamental right to take strike action if it impedes business interests, which is the main point of organised labour.
Lisbon is also a clear power grab by the big states, as the constitution would bring in a new population-based voting system, giving larger members like France and Germany more power. It is also a self-amending treaty with escalator clauses to allow EU institutions to abolish further vetoes without recourse to asking member states.
Crucially, the treaty would further militarise the EU, something which would have a huge impact on Ireland, which has hitherto been a neutral state. When promoting the renamed EU constitution, European Commission president Jose Barroso said:
"Sometimes, I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimensions of empire."
And empires, of course, need armies. The common EU foreign and security policy contained in the Lisbon Treaty provides that "the union's competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence." The last phrase, a "common defence," means a common EU army and military forces.
The driving force behind this constitution is the big corporations, organised in groups like the European Round Table of Industrialists. They are pushing the colonial and militarist agenda, along with privatisation and the removal of all forms of democracy from citizens.
The Irish people are at a crossroads. They can choose to remain a relatively young democratic nation or become a province of an empire once again.
Brian Denny is a spokesman for the UK group Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution and writes regularly for the Morning Star, where this article first appeared.