Tuesday 22 September 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty: US neocon leadership for Europe

Ireland has sought and received assurances that the Treaty of Lisbon does not affect or prejudice Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality.

The assurances do not alter the Lisbon Treaty, but they became a political necessity due to misleading propaganda by No campaigners ahead of the first referendum.

The guarantees are based on mutual understanding: Ireland is free to remain neutral, but it allows its European partners to develop their common foreign, security and defence policies.


US neoconservative leadership

For the inimitable Sally McNamara of the Heritage Foundation, any independent European foreign policy action is a direct threat to American hegemony. “Lisbon Adds To Prague’s Tough Week” (21 September 2009) on The Foundry blog is tellingly posted under American Leadership (as seen by unreformed neoconservatives at war with the Obama administration).

Freedom of opinion applies to all, including McNamara, but even political propaganda should adhere to facts.

She tells us that French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened Prague with “consequences” of delaying ratification of the Lisbon Treaty “making the statement completely unprompted”.

Howcome unprompted?

The Lisbon Treaty was agreed between 27 EU member state governments, and it has been approved by 26 national parliaments. The Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer had informed the EU heads of state or government that President Vaclav Klaus refuses to sign the ratification instrument despite the qualified majority approvals by both houses of the Czech Parliament, and that some of Klaus’ followers – defeated in the parliamentary arena – have decided to launch a new legal challenge to the Lisbon Treaty, already cleared by the Czech Constitutional Court ahead of the ratification votes.

The real motive for Klaus and his fringe of supporters seems to be to delay the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, when the European Union needs a new Commission in place from 1 November 2009.

It can hardly come as a surprise, if the governments of the EU member states are furious at these disruptive tactics.

According to McNamara, “(i)t is not for President Sarkozy or anyone to threaten Prague for carrying out its constitutional obligations”.

But President Sarkozy explicitly reacted against the harmful consequences of President Vaclav Klaus not fulfilling his constitutional obligations.

Although the constitutional mess is an internal Czech problem, it clearly affects the European Union and its member states (much more directly than the United States of America).

It is only natural that European leaders discuss common concerns, and it is self-evident that the more or less constructive actions by member states influence their standing with other EU member states.

In order to promote their interests, the EU member states need the trust and support of their fellow members.


UK EU referendum

According to Sally McNamara, “David Cameron has rightly promised to hold the referendum on the Treaty”.

What is “right” about a referendum?

Is it a principled stand? Does McNamara propagate the principle of plebiscites for all international treaties, everywhere (including the USA)?

McNamara disregards the fact that in the United Kingdom, both Houses of Parliament have approved the Lisbon Treaty, and it has been formally ratified. In the home of parliamentary supremacy, this is the supreme measure of legitimacy, isn’t it?

What would it mean for the credibility of Britain and how would it affect its relations with Europe, if the United Kingdom not only withdraws from the Lisbon Treaty, but prevents the other EU member states from reforming the European Union?

David Cameron and William Hague are wrong in promising a belated referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It could harm the European Union as a whole, and it would certainly poison the UK’s relations with its European partners for a long time to come.

If the Conservative leadership and the British public oppose deeper European integration for the UK, they should draw the conclusions without damaging the rest of Europe – exactly as the Irish government. “Live and let live.”

If the United Kingdom is unwilling or unable to participate in a constructive manner in European integration, the less harmful way is for Britain to take the fundamental decision: In or Out?

A referendum on EU membership would legitimise Britain’s international position, without harming the other member states or the European Union as a whole.

This would do “the rest of Europe a great service”.


The Lisbon Treaty as well as the guarantees and assurances offer Ireland all it needs for a confident Yes vote on 2 October 2009.

A No vote would be a gift to US neocons, UK Tories and disruptive figures like Vaclav Klaus. A No vote is hardly a “neutral” choice.

Ralf Grahn

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