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5) Lisbon: What the Reform Treaty Means, edited by Tony Brown

This volume of short analyses of the Lisbon Treaty, published for €20 by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, is obviously timed to coincide with next week's referendum in Ireland. I've already given my views on the Treaty at some length, but I learnt a few things from this book. I had not realised that the Citizens' Initiative proposal, where the EU must respond to a petition signed by a million citizens, had made it into the final text. And I had not appreciated quite how firmly Ireland's neutrality has been ring-fenced both by current arrangements and in the Lisbon proposal.

Other chapters of the book give extra nuance to things I was already aware of. The Treaty's effects on social legislation and climate change seem to me (despite the arguments made in those chapters) more rhetorical than real, though positive nonetheless. The provisions making it easier to change the EU's rules in future are simply common sense (and these probably mean that although this is the fifth European referendum since 1986, it may also be the last for some time). Finally, I had not realised just how much Ireland is a prisoner of the UK's policies in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, though that is a result of geography rather than of any positive policy choice by the Irish government (let alone the EU).

I've argued before that for the average citizen the Lisbon Treaty isn't a big deal. The best reason I've seen for voting against it is from a friend who wants to bring down capitalism, and sees correctly that the Treaty will allow the EU to function more smoothly in making the market economy work; if you are opposed to capitalism in the first place, this is obviously not desirable.

Finally, Irish readers may be interested to see how their referendum debate is being explained to other audiences. Dominik Tierlemann and Christian Heydecker of the Munich-based Bertelsmann Stiftung have produced a nine-page, 580 kb PDF with the title "Green Light from the Emerald Isle? Ten Questions and Answers about Ireland". And Hugo Brady of the London-based Centre for European Reform has written a three-page, 170kb PDF with the snappy title "Will the Irish Guillotine Lisbon?" Both give a slightly external perspective to the debate.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
andrewducker
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Gah. I'd like to buy a copy of the book, but it looks like the only way to start emailing people. How hard can it be to set up an online store?
nwhyte
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)
They'll probably accept credit card payment if you phone them!

(And if they don't, well, that's their lookout.)
(Anonymous)
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
Please Irish People, in the name of Europeans peoples , vote NO !

See the comments below this french article http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/monde/330142.FR.php
Most of the commentators wish Ireland could vote NO.

If ever it’d happened, this would be a huge slap in the face of the European Commision technocrats who are completely disconnected from reality. The current way the European Union is designed is mainly in the interest of politicians, media and corporations and definitely not in the interest of the majority of the people.

If ever Ireland voted YES, Europe would become the poodle-puppet of the USA, specially into military domains.

Please, be wise, vote NO and do not fear the pressure of the press and of politicians.
nwhyte
Jun. 6th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
In the interests of debate, I'm unscreening this comment!

I would just point out that there is no substance whatever in the statement about the military implications.
redfiona99
Jun. 6th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
The thing I don't get is technocrat as an insult, because to me, the idea of a government/governmental organisation who actually 1) care and 2) know about technology is pretty close to my ideal. But I could just be being an awkward scientist who is sick of science funding getting cut.
inuitmonster
Jun. 6th, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
I think in a specifically French context technocrat has connotations of some self-described expert telling you to mind your own business because you don't know what you're talking about.
liberaliser
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
Which of course is behaviour unthinkable to your average French person. Oh yes.
inuitmonster
Jun. 6th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
What decision-making structures do you think would make the EU work in the interests of the majority of the people (as opposed to the politicians, media, and corporations)?
liberaliser
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Vote NO in the name of the European Peoples
Europe is undemocratic! Vote NO to prevent it becoming more democratic!

The Treaty of Lisbon is the Abomination of Desolation. Vote NO and postpone Armageddon!

Sorry nhw, did you say *debate*? Maybe tomorrow...
liberaliser
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Of course the Citizen's Initiative got in! Forsooth. Here's hoping someday it will be beefed up to the point of being a bit more meaningful...
lasultrix
Jun. 12th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
I'm ashamed to say (half an hour after voting!) that I found new information in "Green Light from the Emerald Isle" and certainly new insights. What a depressing read that final summation was.

It's a grey day outside, the kind that depresses one's mood. But I'd been hoping for a far nastier day. I can't remember the figures, but the news article reporting the poll that put the Yes/No difference to within the margin of error mentioned that among citizens who said they were certain to vote, the Yes side had a strong majority. Unfortunately the day is perfectly dry. Nothing to make people shudder and decide, "Can't be bothered".
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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