The 2007 Treaty of Lisbon was without doubt a ‘treaty too far’. While it was being negotiated, in response to the Dutch/French rejection of the European Constitution, it was known as the European Reform Treaty (ERT) as it was intended to complete the reform process started by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997. When we say it went too far, this is not intended to indicate that the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties, which preceded it were somehow acceptable. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty created the European Union with effect from 1993 and laid the foundations for the Euro zone. The Amsterdam Treaty defined EU citizenship and tried, but failed, to reform the EU institutions in preparation for eastward expansion. The 2001 Nice Treaty remedied that failure and contained provisions to deal with the consequences of the expiry of the 1951 Paris Treaty [which created the European Coal and Steel Community] – oh for a return to the days when treaties had an automatic expiry date – and also amended the Maastricht Treaty (or Treaty on the European Union) and the Treaty of Rome (or the Treaty establishing the European Community, which before Maastricht was the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community). Clear as mud, but it suits the Eurocrats and stops the peasants from asking questions.
The first Resurgence News Sheet we published in July 2007 explained what was happening between the rejection of the European Constitution and the ratification of its clone – the Lisbon Treaty. It still makes relevant reading > https://resurgenceuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/resurgence-special-news-0-1.pdf
Remember the political saying, ‘If you cannot convince voters, then confuse them’. That is what is happening in the UK referendum, and it has a feeling of deja vu. Much like a repeat of the first Irish referendum on the ERT, which rehashed the Constitution as a list of amendments to the previous treaties. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, architect of the rejected European Constitution, demonstrated his contempt for the people of Europe when he said the Lisbon Treaty (the ERT) had been deliberately made unintelligible because people could not object to what they did not understand. He said: “Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.” The Irish proved him wrong when they rejected the ERT, because it was unreadable and they would not buy a pig in a poke.
The Irish establishment and media were as usual all in favour of the ERT, with the No campaign heavily outspent. Then there was a sudden and unexpected shift in the polls away from the Yes campaign. Brussels started to worry and from every capital the foreign politicians started telling the Irish how they should vote. All except the UK who knew, from hundreds of years of experience, that if you do that they will do the exact opposite. The French foreign minister threatened that the Irish would be the first to suffer if they voted the ERT down. So, what is happening in our referendum sounds very familiar. What caused the shift of opinion? Well, it was Dustin the Turkey. Suddenly and overnight posters, with Dustin’s picture, were plastered everywhere advising = ‘Don’t vote for a turkey twice – vote no’. The twice was a reference to the previous Nice Treaty.
Dustin, a popular television muppet, had been voted that year as Ireland’s choice for the Eurovision song contest. European viewers had stopped him from reaching the finals with his composition that lampooned a contest that has become a joke. He made the connection with the EU institutions that had also become a joke. He joined the No campaign, with a declaration that the ERT was ‘gobbledegook (get it)’, using his catchphrase and saying what everyone knew. It may sound insignificant, ridiculous and mischievous, but with Dustin firmly committed to the No campaign the Irish voted NO.
Then there were the unintended consequences. The Czechs and Poles at that point of time had been delaying ratification of the ERT, awaiting the Irish result. The Czech President, in particular, was concerned about the constitutional position. To complicate matters further, it was being suggested in the German media that the Charter of Fundamental Rights [referred to in the ERT] would enable Germans to recover land that they had owned prior to the redrawing of boundaries after the Second World War. This affected the Czechs and then prompted other EU countries to raise similar concerns. To overcome these concerns the German government had to give assurances to prevent any such thing happening. Of course these assurances are not legally binding as there has been no treaty since Lisbon to give them effect.
What will be the unintended consequences arising from the result of the UK referendum? Disenchantment with the EU is widespread, witness the wafer-thin vote in the Austrian Presidential election with the result being challenged in the courts; and the result of the Dutch referendum which is not being acted on. Belgium is ever on the brink of fracturing and needs little excuse to make it happen. The Nordic League countries are poised for change. Dissatisfaction with the centre political parties, ignoring the views of voters, is resulting in lame-duck minority governments. Eurocrats twitter their disgust at politicians succumbing to popularism – that is listening to their citizens concerns. Not only is the future of the EU uncertain, democracy is also under threat. And all because the EU leaders treated David Cameron with disdain. They might now wish that they had been more responsive to the need to reform. David Cameron may also regret that he did not respond by recommending a leave vote in the referendum.
Right, I need some volunteers to dress up in muppet outfits?