The striking thing about the interview with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, as reported in my 28 June 2008 blog post ‘EU: Unable to make decisions’, was his conciliatory tone. The Irish should not be bullied. Failing ratification, negotiations are needed to solve the crisis for both Ireland and the European Union.
But there is always the risk of failure. Different alternatives need careful thought. Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau has been looking at various scenarios in his articles, with the latest addition ‘The options for a Europe without a script’, published 29 June 2008 on FT.com:
It is natural that political leaders are loath to discuss unpleasant truths as long as there is some hope of avoiding trouble, but it is necessary that free-thinking spirits offer the public realistic options.
According to Münchau we are not at breakdown point yet, but we have to consider the possibility that the Irish may not ratify the Lisbon Treaty in the end.
To continue with the Nice Treaty is out of the question, so Münchau supposes that the ratifiers find a way to enforce the Lisbon Treaty without some. He mentions the options of offering the non-ratifiers a chance to quit, various forms of intensified cooperation among integrationist countries and a regrouping under a new organisation.
If negotiations fail, Europe faces the stark choice between immobility and action by a narrower membership. Here I agree with Münchau.
But a more effective union would further lessen the democratic legitimacy and accountability of the European project and harden the popular resistance, if not coupled with profound democratic reform. It is time for the European leaders to face up to the democratic requirements of the 21st century.
Europe cannot preach to the world what it doesn’t practice itself.