In three weeks' time, Ireland will, for a moment, hold the fate of Europe in its hands. Through a quirk of Irish constitutional procedure, on Oct. 2 the Republic of Ireland will be the only European Union nation to hold a referendum on a treaty to revamp how the EU, home to half a billion people, does business. The Lisbon Treaty, therefore, will stand or fall on the votes of perhaps one and a half million Irishmen and women.
From the perspective of Brussels, this is grossly unfair—a miscarriage of democracy masquerading as democracy. The Irish have stymied the denizens of Brussels' European Quarter before, most recently the first time they voted against the Lisbon Treaty last year.
Back then, the establishment in Brussels blamed one man above all for the defeat. His name is Declan Ganley. He was one of the driving forces behind the No campaign the last time around, and he's back to do it again. Your correspondent recently sat down with him to find out what he's fighting for in trying to see to it that Ireland once again votes No to Lisbon—and in the process, he hopes, forces the EU to choose a different path.
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1. The European Union has already created massive pockets of unemployment, with countries such as Spain – who have ratified Lisbon – suffering with unemployment rates of 18%. Why should Ireland sign up to a failing European Union?
2. About 450,000 people are unemployed, crushed by cuts, taxes, mortgage payments, on top of public bank-bail-outs and yet, the politicians who brought this upon Ireland are also asking for trust over the Lisbon treaty.
3. MEPs claim up to €1,000,000 in expenses each term, while massive job losses continue on an everyday basis.
4. Ireland remains a full member of the EU without the Lisbon treaty, and is in fact economically and politically better off without the treaty.
5. If Ireland votes No, she will continue to have access to Europe’s single market – the Lisbon treaty is concerned more with intensifying European government, using a constitutional document, which will crush trade, jobs and industry in Ireland .
6. Foreign investment has actually increased since Ireland voted No last year.
7. Under the Lisbon treaty, the EU can levy taxes on Ireland for the first time.
8. 150,000 Irish jobs, at least, are under threat through direct employment in multinational companies. Since Lisbon will interfere in taxation and the low corporate tax rate, those multinationals will simply leave for lands with lower corporate tax rates.
9. Lisbon will not aid the recession – to the contrary, it will make it worse.
10. The Lisbon treaty allows big business to import cheap labour and undercut Irish workers, in much the same way as it has done in labour disputes in the UK and the Nordic countries.