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The key issue — from a German viewpoint

AN editorial in the influential German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on June 15 had an important insight into the crisis facing the European Union in the wake of the Irish no vote.

“The peoples of Europe,” in the newspaper’s considered view, “apparently are no longer prepared to go further down the path agreed by their governments for ever closer union. This is because the EU decision-making processes are now so complex that hardly anyone understands them; and this is why their outcomes are no longer being accepted. To state it in abstract terms: both the expansion and the deepening of the EU raise doubts which at the first opportunity are expressed in rejection — not least because people detect that the two are not contemporaneously compatible.”

This is a key issue.

The treaty did not define the borders of the EU and instead proposes boundless expansion.

The fact is that the huge volume of added treaty provisions which would have come into effect had Lisbon been adopted are largely unknown quantities.

That is until they are tested, which means until the European Court of Justice rules on them.

As recent European Court rulings on the services directive and other matters have shown, the political will which had driven and shaped the EU has been replaced by a judicial power which has authority in the EU over all national judicial systems.

The future of the EU — in areas as vastly varied as trade union rights, competitiveness and even expansion itself — was being put in the hands of the European Court of Justice.

The disquiet identified by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is what needs to be clarified before the process of European integration can resume, and I believe resolving the role of the European Court is at the very heart of this.

Philip O’Connor

55 St Peter’s Terrace


Dublin 13


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