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Outvoting Democracy

The institutional inertia of the EU is strong, but there is no doubt that there are better solutions to the Irish NO vote to the Lisbon treaty than hoping it will go away or trying to ignore it.

If there had been a referendum in every member state and only Ireland had rejected the treaty, then there might be some ground to suggest that some way round the situation might be sought. In fact, of course Ireland was the only state to submit the treaty to a vote. It is pretty clear that several other states, if a vote had been called, might well have rejected the treaty too.

Some reforms are needed: democratic oversight in the EU needs to be increased, and more powers returned to the national Parliaments. The internal voting system should be made fairer and the confusion over the legal personality of the Union and the way it handles its external relations needs to be improved.

However it does not automatically need the Lisbon treaty to undertake these reforms. For the time being the systems are working to a degree, and the organisation is not facing a serious structural crisis. However the prolonged navel-gazing is distracting attention form areas where the EU clearly has an important role. The challenges of cross border environmental degradation are being ducked and the security challenge of an aggressive Russia is not being addressed.

Some of the goals of the Laeken Process , including the reforms I mention above, can be enacted through the accession treaty with Croatia which will need to be put in process this autumn in order to allow for entry in 2010. Beyond that, any fundamental changes to the EU should be put aside for the time being.

As a Liberal commentary this blog believes that setting the limits to state power is a fundamental basis of freedom. The EU has been trying to change tack from "ever closer union" towards more limited policy goals for some time. However the compromises embedded in the Constitutional treaty and the Lisbon treaty are simply too many and too complicated. The idea of comprehensive reform must be shelved- we can not bring either the majority of the states or the majority of the population to agreement at this point- and it is dangerous to try.

The EU can only reconnect with the citizen if it can demonstrate that it serves a valuable purpose. Instead of the high-falutin' words of Giscard d'Estaing's Federalism, we should return to the practical usefulness of Functionalism. To refuse to accept the implications of the Irish vote can only alienate more countries from the organisation.

Much has been achieved in Europe by the European Union- but in the final analysis forcing through significant change against the democratic will of the citizen would simply undermine the whole system. The only people likely to laugh at that are the genuinely scary anti-democrats in the Kremlin and the Forbidden City.


Newmania said…
You are living in fantasy world C. Most of the changes so detested by this country are in place. The EU diplomatic corps and the European External action service were brought into being two years ago with all the trimmings if well funded missions .The armaments agency , the human rights agency and external borders agency these are operating and they are not going to stop.Lisbon would have made the Charter of fundamental rights justiciable directly into nation state opening swathes of family and union law to the EU judges ( or co conspirators as more properly called). The Commission , the SCJ and the Court of Justice have all declared they will treat this as binding despite its rejection..

Lawyerly creativity is even now smoothing the way around and any footling matter of accountability to the ruled.It will be quietly rubber stamped under cover of the Croatia accession by confusing transfers of power within the EU with transfers of power to it . The Guardian yesterday reported that the Lawyers are working nonstop and they have numerous cocktail of hocus pocus to avoid any serious difficulty being caused by this one free vote .

The Federal dream is not dead , I know this is the line being peddled by the cowering European elitists , I noticed Polly trying it at a early stage , it still proceeds by lies increment and obfuscation. Your ridiculous double think that we need to have further integration so the EU can reform has been mirrored by Brown`s evil elf helper Milliband . We need to continue ratification to have a stronger voice for reform ... just how stupid do you think people are ?

You want there to be a United States of Europe. You want the end of the country except as a hollowed out theme Park complete with local cheeses and charming costume . You do not accept the moral case for the Nation State which is the vase for democracy, it cannot exist without a demos. In your heart you find it unbearable that someone so clearly better able to tell us what to do ( you ) is so impotent to have any effect .This replacement of votes with a court of bureaucrats suits your purpose. You regard the views of other people as obstacles to be overcome not to be listened to. You have in common with many of your type that while you may say ever so many sensible things when it comes to Europe you become a crazed fanatic , is it a displaced chauvinism not given sufficient expression ? Who knows , but its really quite scary and quite inconsistent with anything remotely ‘Liberal ‘. It has atavistic qualities rightly terrify ordinary people ...

I cannot see why you are so obsessed with this silly old fashioned dream of bigness , all the good things it offers can be achieved more or less without it and no-one is suggesting we are not on good terms with our neighbors. One of the things I notice is that most of those who still associate the whole thing with modernity in a some dim way know almost nothing about it . It is less popular with the young than the old. More popular with the ill-informed than the politically literate.

..and now they want an army..

I can see us out in about ten years and then it will wither away as such things do.
asquith said…
Newmania, do you really think Cameron will be much more Eurosceptic than Brown, & he will reverse any Europeanisation? Will he take us out of the EU? How do you envisage us going in an anti-EU direction?

I support giving certain powers to the EU, devolving as much as possible to nation-states & local government. In general I supported the Lisbon Treaty because it promised to achieve just this: make the EU work for us in a genuine sense.

If there were a referendum, I'd vote yes. (I will not be drawn into whether or not there should be one...).
Cicero said…
I agree with you asquith, and would have voted Yes too. What I find increasingly difficult to accept is the frankly outrageous attacks on people who think that the EU is a net benefit to the UK as somekind of elitist traitors. The language of the anti Europeans is so intemperate and offensive and it is very hard to maintain a reasonable debate with people whose only argument is insult and invective.

Better Off Out is a defensible position, but it is not the position of the Conservative Party- it is the position of UKIP. If you with David Cameron that we are better off in, then the UK can not act in the unilateral way that Newmania seems to want, and the Tories should stop trying to be schoolyard bullies to people who have different views to them about the value of the EU to the UK.
Anonymous said…

The Tory Party is not like that. Certain sections of the press are for sure but you'd best take it up with them. As for rudeness it cuts both ways of the divide. Sarkozy's comments on the Irish as reported in Canard Enchaine and the breathtaking comments of the Head of the Romanian Socialists deserve equal attention.

Cicero said…
Lepidus, You may not be "like that", and neithe are may of my Conservative friends- but there is certainly a highly vocal an abusive minority- and it is not acceptable.
Anonymous said…
I do not think though that individuals like that should be so highlighted by you if they are as you say a minority. No more than you do highlight the polemics of the Denis Macshanes going the other way.

Newmania said…
The language of the anti Europeans is so intemperate and offensive and it is very hard to maintain a reasonable debate with people whose only argument is insult and invective.

C if you are saying that I am unacceptable I did allow that on other subjects you are quite reasonable . On this one I find your views owe more to some sort of Marxist style historic mission than any commonsense .Remember ,you are having it all your way having just won a another battle by stealth and subterfuge . Its easy to be reasonable when your views are those that are imposed undemocratically on others and not visa versa. I think you must be honest and admi that the motivation of the Euro fanatic is not as rational or national as you pretend.
This tactic of characterising those who value the national identity as weird , nutty and somehow not nice has persisted from the Common Market referendum. It usually proceeds thus , ignore the electorate , lie about it , then throw up hands in horror that people are outraged and intemperate . Simple isn’t it .

Asquith -Of course Cameron will not drag us out of Europe day 1 however over time we will realign either semi detached or in some way more in keeping with the wishes of the people. To get any where with this , in this climate you have to start from being prepared to leave.You do not have to trust Cameron. He will have no choice .The Conservative Party is a democracy

Lepidus don't be such a surrender monkey and whats wrong with Denis Mc Shane ?At least he operates in the light of day
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