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.

Lisbon: binding legal document needs no quotation marks

MAUREEN O’Donnell’s misconceptions on the Lisbon guarantees and her reckless casting of Angela Merkel as a modern-day Hitler (Letters, September 7) cannot be left unchecked.

Using the old quotation marks trick, she calls into question the status of this “binding legal document”.

However, the guarantees are not a “binding legal document”, they are a binding legal document. They represent a formal agreement, signed by the heads of state or government of 27 countries, which has been deposited with the UN. It doesn’t get much more binding when it comes to the legality of an international accord.

The fact is that if Lisbon is ratified, the European Court of Justice must respect the guarantees, from the outset, just as it did when Denmark negotiated opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty in 1993.

In addition to this legal weight, it was decided that the assurances would be given the political weight of treaty status, when they are incorporated into the next EU treaty. This is likely to happen within a year with Croatia’s accession treaty.

On this question of future accession, Ms O’Donnell’s stand turns from idle misconception into dangerous accusation. She compares the recent decision, agreed mutually between the EU and certain eastern European countries to join together with that of Nazi Germany’s lebensraum expansion in the 1940s. Croatia is not set to join the EU next year because Germany says so – this will be a unanimous decision on the part of the 27 member states and the Croatian government.

In contrast, there is no unanimity on the question of Turkish accession. As well as a general feeling of “not today, but maybe some day”, even among countries that support Turkish accession, the French staunchly oppose Turkey’s membership because most of its landmass does not lie within the European continent. There is a physical limit to the European continent, as Morocco found out when its EU membership bid was rejected on “geographical grounds” in 1987.

The EU will expand as far, and only as far, as its members unanimously decide. None of this changes with the Lisbon treaty.

Instead of using the upcoming referendum as an excuse to confuse the issue with irrelevant talk of a Euro empire, I suggest people from both camps stick to the text of the treaty and the guarantees as a basis for their position. While Ms O’Donnell bemoans the fact that Sarkozy or Merkel won’t be nipping down to Ballinlough to talk her through these, both are freely available online at lisbontreaty.ie.

Nigel Smith

Ballygarth Manor


Co Meath


Much has been said about the perils of being stuck in the house 24/7, like family pets interrupting your important conference calls, your partner leaving their dirty dishes everywhere and the lack of respite from the kids.Silver lining: Seven enforced money-saving habits you might want to continue after lockdown

Put you and your loved ones' pop-culture knowledge to the test with Arts Editor Des O'Driscoll's three fiendishly fun quiz rounds.Scene and Heard: the Arts Ed's family entertainment quiz

A passion for heritage and the discovery of some nifty new software has resulted in an Irish architect putting colour on thousands of old photographs, writes Marjorie BrennanBringing the past to life

Richard Hogan, family psychotherapist, addresses a reader's question about life during lockdownHolding on: how to help your child through the crisis

More From The Irish Examiner