If you would like to submit a contribution to our Readers Blog section then follow this link. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact number otherwise your submission will not be considered for publication. We will contact you prior to publication.
WHEN the French, voting in large numbers, rejected the European constitution (the Lisbon Treaty in readable form), the then president of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, along with José Manuel Barroso, called for the ratification process to continue.
Within a day, the governments of the other member states had agreed. Before the referendum had even taken place, Barroso had condemned France’s political elite for their “failure to explain the constitution to voters”.
A similar condemnation had been issued by former commissioner Pascal Lamy blaming no support on “uncertainty, ignorance of the issues and confusion”.
A spokesman for the Luxembourg presidency had also pointed out that it would be “undemocratic” for the French to “decide for the whole of Europe”.
However, a few days later, the Dutch people, also voting in large numbers (63%), decided by a huge margin (61.6% to 38.4%) to reject the European constitution. This was in spite of the urging of the united forces of the main political parties, the mainstream press and the principal civil organisations. Commissioner Margot Wallström was at hand to interpret the Dutch voters’ rejection, which she declared, in spite of the evidence, was not a vote against further integration.
Shortly after this came the European Council summit at which the Dutch premier, in stark contrast to Brian Cowen, refused to hold another referendum under any circumstances.
This effectively dealt the death blow to the constitution.
In spite of this, Juncker and Barroso affirmed their belief that the ratification process should continue, but that there should be a pause for reflection.
They adamantly declared, however, there would be no renegotiation of the constitution. “Europe is not going to stop,” stated Barroso.
This was in harmony with Juncker’s stated plan for advancing the European project. “If it’s a yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a no, we will say ‘we continue.’ ”
So there we have it. They did in fact continue and came up with the Lisbon Treaty, which we rejected, voting by proxy for 500 million others denied their say by Machiavellian political manoeuvring. Three times now electorates in Europe have rejected giving a constitutional foundation to the union and creating a federal state.
But we have learned there can never be a ‘no’ to the EU project. Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has produced precisely the same reactions as listed above.
Each time we have been informed that voters were “confused,” that they weren’t rejecting further “European integration,” that it would be “undemocratic” to listen to the democratically-expressed will of the people.
There must always be other reasons for any rejection of further integration and so referendums may be repeated until voters give the ‘right’ answer. Besides it would be ‘undemocratic’ to permit democracies the extravagance of actually deciding their own future.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved