August 17, 2009
I said earlier that I might do an occasional post on the theme of “With Friends like this, who needs enemies?” I hoped I would not have to. Unfortunately Commissioner McCreevy joined the debate.
The No websites are giving great prominence to the Commissioner’s statement in June that 95% of the member states would have rejected the Lisbon Treaty if it had been put to a vote.
He was making, or trying to make, the valid point that heads of state in other member states were politicians who understood the political complexities of securing support for the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland. He contrasted their realism with the “shock and horror” response to the first referendum by the “fonctionnaires” who live within the Brussels “beltway”.
Mr Mc Creevy has some things to his credit in his career, notably his relatively early hostility to the disgraced former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. However, the desire to be seen as a “plain speaker” is not always consistent with good judgement.
It is ludicrously implausible to claim to know how 26 countries would have voted in referenda that were never actually held. The claim that 95% would have voted No is sheer fantasy and not a realistic political judgement.
It is of course perfectly possible that some other member states might have voted No in a referendum, but this is beside the point – they did not have a referendum. This does not make them any less democratic than Ireland. I’m glad we have a system of constitutional referenda in Ireland but I accept that other member states do things differently. For political, cultural and historic reasons, EU member states approach these questions differently, each in their own way, but they are all democratic.
One may argue for or against the Treaty, and for or against the holding of a referendum, but it is nonsense to dismiss the decision-making procedure in the member states as being simply “undemocratic”.
The Commissioner’s remarks were both wrong and irrelevant.ENDAuthor : Jim Murray