Monday, 23 June 2008

No means No?

On 12 June, voters in Ireland rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty by 46.6% to 53.4% in a national referendum. Turnout was relatively high, at 53%.

However, despite the resounding no vote, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to press ahead regardless, agreeing that ratification of the Treaty should continue in other countries. They also agreed that Irish voters should eventually be asked to vote again, until they say 'yes'.

Despite claiming that they want to "respect" the Irish no vote, EU leaders across the whole of Europe have no intention of doing so. They are determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty.

Here are just some of the extraordinary reactions to the Irish vote from Europe's leaders:
"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s***." - Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)

"The Lisbon Treaty is not dead... It is imperative that they vote again." - Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and author of the EU Constitution (RTL, 19 June)

"I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed." - Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Europe Minister (Reuters, 16 June)

"I am convinced that we need this Treaty. Therefore we are sticking with our goal for it to come into force. The ratification process must continue." - Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (Reuters, 14 June)

"Of course we have to take the Irish referendum seriously. But a few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans." - Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Interior Minister (Deutsche Welle, 15 June)

"We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty. With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority." - Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the German Bundestag (Irish Times, 14 June)

The Treaty "will be applied, albeit a few months late." - Lopez Garrido, Spanish Europe Minister (Forbes, 15 June)

"The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution." - Jose Barroso, European Commission President (Press Conference, 14 June)
This is an extraordinary refusal to accept the democratic will of the people. Ireland has been the only country allowed to have a referendum on the Treaty, and has said no. By the EU's own rules, the Treaty can only enter into force if all 27 member states have ratified it. Therefore, the Treaty should now be dead. It is completely unacceptable that other countries are continuing to ratify the Treaty in the hope of forcing Ireland to vote again, under pressure from the prospect of 26 other countries having ratified it. EU leaders are proving once again that they are simply unable to take 'no' for an answer.