The defeat of the Libertas candidates in the European elections will come as no surprise as economic uncertainty has brought us nearer Europe and not further away. In Britain, Euro Sceptics seemed to do well as did Far Right candidates in some certain jurisdictions such as Holland, normally a very liberal country.
Here in Ireland, there has been diplomatic discussion in recent days and weeks concerning an amended document that will suit Irish needs and get us back on track. Issues reviewed were the right to life, family and education. The worry about the EU being able to change Irish tax and bring in higher European tax rates was also addressed as was security and defence with the need for Ireland to remain free of an EU commitment to a European army.
It will be for Ireland, acting in a spirit of solidarity and without prejudice to its traditional policy of military neutrality, to determine the nature of aid or assistance to be provided for a member state which is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of armed aggression on its territory. Any decision to move to a common defence will require a unanimous decision
of the European Council.
It would be a matter for the member states, including Ireland, to decide whether or not to offer a common defence. Nothing is to prejudice the position or policy of any other Member State to decide, in accordance with the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and any domestic legal requirements, whether to participate in permanent structured co-operation or the European Defence Agency.
It is up to Ireland, if we want, to participate in a military operation. At presents there are EU countries with soldiers in Afghanistan, but no Irish. Even the Germans are there, which is unusual and somewhat controversial for them given their history
There is also a declaration on workers’ rights and social policy, where there are many different arrangements due to legal systems and various traditions of collective bargaining. Each country has such complex elements here that it is hard to standardize although we already we have many protections from European law with lots of new labour legislation since the previous treaties.
As a result of the Irish ‘No’ vote, the government has secured many concessions and other countries, like the UK and Poland, that have anti EU tendencies in their electorate may want concessions for themselves. So, there is the distinct possibility of a hornets nest that could emerge and sting the Commission in Brussels. Croatia is a new country to become member of the EU but without Lisbon it cannot join. One wonders if there is another legal option for them? EU mandarins will be looking at all sorts of options in the year ahead so that the Union can develop and not be held back by the interests of one single country. Germany, France, Italy and the originally members want to move forward.
Lonely Iceland, for long opposed to the EU until their massive financial and banking crisis hit, now want to join.
Encouraging foreign investment
Ireland has had too many troubles lately on the economic front and may need EU assistance in our rescue plans for the banks and government spending. Already they are recommending the formulation of the Irish budget to stabilise Irish public finances and to ensure the Irish government debt can be paid. Disciplines are needed in Europe and within the Euro-zone this was ignored in the past by our government and our Central Bank who failed to regulate irresponsible lending by Anglo Irish Bank and others. The public now wants stability and would back a new treaty with the new safeguards on certain issues highlighted. When the election comes, our city and county council candidates must become more engaged in the issue now that they have won their local election seats. If we vote ‘No’ again we could be preventing other European countries from joining. Retaining an EU commissioner is one of the positive aspects.
Some of the impetus in foreign investment that we have could be affected by a negative vote and incoming multi nationals may feel that we are not fully in the European project. Nationalists may still oppose it as they do not like the idea of a super state. We are in this far, so why turn backwards? A ‘No’ vote will hurt the economy and investment at a time when it is really weak. Can we really take the chance with another ‘No’ vote? That is a question that voters in October will have to consider and should ponder on in the months ahead.