Sunday 20 July 2008

EU: Invest 75 million pounds in the Nice Treaty!

Declan Ganley seems to be planning to field more than 400 candidates in the June 2009 European elections. He is starting to raise £75 million from online donations to run candidates for the European Parliament throughout the European Union.

See the Telegraph article by Tim Shipman “Irish ‘No’ vote architect plans Europe-wide ‘referendum’ on Lisbon Treaty” (20 July 2008):

According to the article, the message will be to give people a referendum with a chance to say ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty. Ganley hopes to win more than 80 seats in the European Parliament, creating a Europe-wide voting bloc with a strong mandate to block passage of the treaty.


At this point in time, Shipman’s interview seems to be closest thing we have to a prospectus for the initial public offering of the Libertas European level party.

Let us take a closer look at what we can surmise of the offer from the viewpoint of potential donors, candidates and voters.

Given my modest circumstances, 75 million British pounds looks like a hefty investment even for a good cause.

The only message of the Libertas party seems to be an opportunity to vote ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty.

Consequently, 75 million pounds could lead to a protest vote, just possibly massive enough to save the Nice Treaty for the foreseeable future. A lot of money to remain stuck where we already are.

Given the simplicity of the message, the already proven capacity to market forceful simplifications in one test market and popular disillusionment with the EU project, we cannot exclude the possibility of some electoral success.

We could end up with a number of anti-Lisbon MEPs in the next European Parliament, possibly enough toform a new parliamentary group (according to the new rules).

Before the five year mandate comes to a close, at least part of the voters would have realised that the European Parliament has no voice in treaty change. Even if this can be seen as undemocratic, amending the EU treaties is in the hands of the member states’ governments and ultimately parliaments. The European Parliament is only consulted on calling an intergovernmental conference.

Even if a successful electoral campaign could be launched on a protest against the Lisbon Treaty, the Europarliamentarians are in fact elected to act as co-legislators for five years. What would the Libertas MEPs do during their mandate?

There is no programme, as far as we know, and if the campaign is solely about protesting against the Lisbon Treaty, we cannot be sure that there is going to be any platform of substance before the elections.

Still, as elected representatives, Libertas’ MEPs would be supposed to vote on all ‘Community pillar’ questions within the European Parliament’s powers.

Donors would not know what they invest in.

Candidates would be unaware of what they stake their reputation on.

Voters would be clueless as to the future policies beyond the initial protest.


How about this as a return on investment?


Democracy, legitimacy and accountability are key demands on any political group, especially one campaigning on these issues.

More – much more – is needed if Libertas wants to become a credible EU level political party.

Ralf Grahn


  1. "Still, as elected representatives, Libertas’ MEPs would be supposed to vote on all ‘Community pillar’ questions within the European Parliament’s powers."

    If you consider this fact and the fact that Libertas will not have to declare any political program, beyond formulating popular disillusionment with Europe one can get an idea how he might be able to raise all that money he need to run for the EP.

    It's straight from the Heritage rulebook: Nationalism for rubes, Neoliberalism* for Business.

    *I know that Neoliberalism is an ill defined term but I think it is clear what I want to say.

  2. RZ,

    Citizens and media should demand (and get) some kind of consumer protection in the political field, too.

    Libertas definitely needs to upgrade its 'business plan'.

  3. Again, this is not about "democracy, legitimacy and accountability" - its about the Lisbon Treaty and the things it brings to Europe in terms of "challenging" American primacy, especially.

    My feeling is that if the Europe can do several things, among others, these people will be beaten:

    First and foremost, an independent from NATO, "permanently structured cooperation" in defense and security. Duplicate NATO as much as possible, but especially get some kind of organizational structure to European defense and security. I saw one proposal from a grad student at Oxford suggest a North Atlantic Council-like structure for the European Union. I am glad to see the creation on an European Union Arctic defense cooperation made up of Sweden and Finland, among others. A good start!

    Second, what is absolutely selfish about this is the "protection" or not only American primacy and hegemony in Europe, but destruction of European project to "protect the special relationship." Give the United Kingdom and Ireland all the opt-outs -all the opt outs they demand.

    Third, protect social security systems, health care, employment, social inclusion and human rights- they are probably after these, too.

    Fourth, I also suspect that they are after Europe's defense industry. Keep building up technology development and continue the defense industry's global reach!

    Fifth, we need to strongly associate Libertas with anti-Europe and expose the connections to the Western side of the Atlantic - and trace these views back to the Heritage Foundation and its anti-European Union past. I am providing some links to help further this connection, but some others, including the "Is that European Union in the best interests of the US" June 2005, but you can read about the themes of it on this blog

    Last we need to watch who is seated in the College of Commissioners, who have the power of initiation - and we know that MEPs have a lot to do with that. We need to keep track of what legislation is introduced...The last time, MEPs made a stink about a JHA candidate that said some bad words about gays and women - and we got Franco Frattini...who was about the worst person for the job! Let's encourage governments to look at pro-Europe candidates.

    Is the European Union a Threat to the US?

    Where We Stand: Our Principles On A Policy for Europe That Reinforces National Sovereignty

    Is the E.U. America's Friend or Foe?

    Once again, this is not about "democracy, legitimacy and accountability" - as these are old issues - and can be addressed through other means other than the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty. In the end, this is about defending the "special relationship" - NATO as the Supreme Being over European defense - and especially keeping the European Union from the means to become an international player...

    This is a serious and pressing issue for Europe, these developments of the entanglement of Declan Ganley, Libertas and the Heritage Foundation - as it means NEVER realizing the European project - and at the least, having it subordinate and chained to to American interests - permanently - to NATO and the western side of the Atlantic.

    Hence - the European project, as described and envisioned in the Schuman Declaration, will NEVER come into being!

  4. ESLaPorte,

    I think that my post is demanding and critical enough, at this stage.

    I would be a little more concerned about the state of EU level democracy, if I were you.

  5. It might sound like I'm blowing of the "democratic deficit," but that's not what is intended.

    What is intended is to point out that "more democracy" for the EU is not intentions of Ganley, Libertas and their supporters as the Heritage Foundation.

    Their purpose is use "lack of democracy" to undermine the European Union and especially get rid of that Lisbon Treaty thing...These people are not friends of the European project or the European Union...

    They will present this as "democracy" and use their limited definition of "democracy" to mean only referendums, which will wind up a referendum on the existence of the European Union.

  6. ESLaPorte,

    Yes, we seem to have some common ground.

    Representative democracy is the permanent and main system for political governance.

    What I find worrying is that the cartel of national leaders of the EU member states is still pushing the system according to the original 'modus operandi', in spite of stiffening resistance among large segments of the population and growing disillusionment among intellectuals.

    National referenda are not in my view legitimate means to express opinion, except for the country concerned (for instance accession, withdrawal).

    (The corollary of this is that the unanimity rule should be scrapped, because otherwise the representatives or voters of any member state, say Malta, wield power over the legitimate decision-makers of the rest of the EU member states.)

    Even pan-European referenda are exceptional instruments. The use I would find legitimate is the move from a system of the present kind to a truly democratic EU Constitution. This qualitative jump would require a double majority of citizens and states, and the new union would be instituted among the approving electorates.

    As to Declan Ganley and Libertas, I think that citizens and the media have an obligation to ask hard questions and a right to expect much better answers.

    Neither the Libertas referendum campaign nor the prelude to the European election campaign has been up to scratch.

    I don't understand how anyone could donate (invest) money, spend time and effort as a candidate or vote for a European political party without a credible programme for the next five years.

    I don't have to impute any guilt based on association; it is enough to pinpoint the glaring deficiencies at this point in time and to continue demanding better answers.

  7. The present situation would be characterised in terms of consumer law as one of "mis-selling". Giscard sold a version of the Constitutional Treaty which was not true. The deception started with the very title "Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe". The only word in it that is accurate is 'treaty'.

    The Norwegians, Swiss etc. would have been interested to know that a "constitution" had been created for Europe without their knowledge.

    There is every evidence that Berlin foisted the revamped text on Sarkozy as, in terms of the speeches the latter was was making and the interviews he was giving, right up until his election, what he had in mind was something entirely different. A "mini-treaty" confined to the institutional changes that the larger MS wanted with a further convention down the road. In terms of political assessment he was right. There is no way the ordinary punter can be persuaded that the Lisbon Treaty is not the Constitutional Treaty in disguise, although, in fact, it is totally different in terms of its legal structure. (If there are any doubts about the fact that small changes can alter the DNA of any treaty, one need only compare the wording of the comparable articles on the legal acts of the Union. The CT created the bizarre situation that only the heavy artillery of laws and framework laws could be used for legislative acts, even in areas as innocuosu as culture. This has been remedied in the Lisbon Treaty by a return to the existing situation where the parties can adopt measures by the simpler instrument of a decision cf. Article 289).

    Sarkozy was right in terms of his political assessment. But that is all water under the bridge.

    We now have the paradox of a much more acceptable treaty being damned by suspicion about its predecessor. And a lot of "helpful" outside assistance taking advantage of the situation.

    Still, as I said on another thread, Ireland is moving through the five stages of grief, as the Irish know they have shot themselves in the foot. To remind: the stages are (i) denial (ii) anger (iii) bargaining (iv) depression and (v) acceptance. Sarkozy is in Dublin today and we are half way through stages (ii) and (iii).

  8. Seachtu,

    It is always a pleasure to read your thoughts (including those which have appeared as written by one of the Anonymouses).

    (It is preferable to choose an identity, as you have done now, since it makes life easier for readers and me.)

    You are quite right about the essential treaty base of the Constitutional Treaty, a point I discussed with some anti-Europeans who denied the treaty character (like many other facts surrounding the European Union).

    But where is Ireland going to end up after traversing the stages of grief? And how?

  9. Hard to say. Sarkozy, having no talents as a bereavement counsellor, has sent the Labour Party, afraid of being outflanked still further on the left, back to stage (i), denial. It now says that no further referendum on the same text is possible and that the problem is one for Europe to solve !.

    The main opposition party, Fine Gael, linked to Sarkozy's UMP in the EP, does not know what to do. But it was not impressed by being offered, with Labour, three minutes by the Emperor to explain its position in the company of the rest of the ragbag of opponents and supporters of the treaty from "civic society". A more cack-handed handling by the French side could hardly have been imagined. [Both the Labour and Fine Gael leaders are now to get short private meetings].

    The fundamental problem is one of hubris and an Irish "commentariat", politicians, administrators and media, that is incapable of situating Ireland in the real world. It is on the way to finding out.

  10. Seachtu,

    Your comments reflect what I have been able to glean from Irish press reports. If the constantly changing arrangements have looked ham-fisted, the extreme sensitivity of both political actors and public opinion seem completely inward-looking, with no capacity to understand the outside world.

    My guess is that Brian Cowen's pleas for compassion and a snail's pace are probably correct from the viewpoint of Irish opinion, but offer little hope of solutions in a forseeable future.

    At this moment the situation looks like an intractable mess.

    In a short while the media are going to cover the press conference, and I suppose that the two party leaders and the participants at the French Embassy have already aired their opinions, but I would be astonished to see any real developments.


Due deluge of spam comments no more comments are accepted.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.