Friday, May 23, 2008
Dublin Could Yet Torpedo Lisbon
This is the banner on the home page of Libertas, the Irish organisation running the 'NO' campaign prior to the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, coming up next month. The leader of Libertas is 39 year old Declan Ganley (pictured below), and he's doing a storming job, catching out Irish government Ministers who are misleading the people about the terms of the Lisbon Treaty (click on Libertas for details), especially as to the loss of Ireland's veto to QMV over any terms that the EU agrees to in WTO negotiations.
Farmers are worried. In Ireland farming carries political clout, as it is a far bigger part of the economy than in Britain, for example.
'Stop lecturing us and telling us how grateful we should be,' said one farmer.
'Why would we support an institution that's taking away our livelihood?' said another, according to today's WSJ.
The WSJ lists out the areas of concern as follows -
Farmers are concerned that they will be forced to compete with cheaper imports, as well as seeing their EU subsidies reduced at the same time. Trade Unions fear that the Treaty will weaken their members' rights. Peace activists say that the Treaty will force Ireland to beef up its military, and anti-abortion groups worry that the Treaty will force Ireland to alter its anti-abortion stance.
The Yes campaign denies that any of these fears are necessary. But all in Ireland are aware that the competitive tax regime in Ireland with the 12.5% Corporation Tax has done a lot to attract business and FDI into Ireland. If tax harmonisation policy becomes enforceable from measures brought in subsequent to Lisbon, again by QMV, which they will, then Ireland's economic competitiveness could start to seep away.
The country is already suffering from a property price downturn and rising interest rates, and the Irish are not so willing to suspend their doubts about the EU as they were. earlier in May a poll put the YES and the NO votes neck and neck, but with 30% undecided. All the big parties are backing the Treaty, as is the media, but the lone voices of Declan Ganley and Libertas, backed by Sinn Fein might yet pull off the vote. The battle is on.
UPDATE - Dan Hannan in this week's Spectator is upbeat about the chances of Lisbon being sunk by the Irish referendum HERE.
And his colleague Roger Helmer MEP East Midlands (Conservative) has this to say in his monthly newsletter -
The mood in Ireland is swinging against the Yes Campaign. A recent poll of small businessmen in Ireland showed 74% against. Ten thousand Irish farmers marched in Dublin against the Lisbon Treaty. They are worried about Peter Mandelson's world trade position. Recently Mandy called the Irish farmers "liars". This was headlined in Irish papers. You can imagine how such a comment from an English Commissioner was received. One Irish NO Campaigner called Mandelson "The gift that keeps on giving".
The Yes side are getting very worried, in Dublin and in Brussels. They can't move the vote to a later date, because they know that developments under the French Presidency (July/Dec '08), especially on tax and agriculture, will strengthen the NO vote.
It is difficult to see how the EU could respond to a NO vote in Ireland, but it would be a huge boost for our cause. Fingers crossed for June 12th..
An Irish Take on the Lisbon Treaty
In the (Irish) Sunday Business Post, Tom McGurk argued, "If you thought the Maastricht and Nice masterpieces needed a whole afternoon in a political seminar to understand, then try Lisbon. It is the Finnegans Wake of EU treaties, a master-class in confusion and obscurity. It would be funny if it weren't so serious; indeed, were any student in Europe to submit the Lisbon Treaty as an academic political thesis, they might well be thrown out of their faculty."
The last word should go to a thoughtful Irishman, Anthony Coughlan, who explains in simple terms what Lisbon would mean for Ireland, if it were to be ratified. Read HERE.