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By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
October 20, 2009

Ireland’s President Mary McAleese signed the European Union's Lisbon Treaty on Thursday, two weeks after the nation’s voters approved the pact in a referendum held Oct. 2.

McAleese’s signature completes the ratification process, removing almost the last barrier to what critics warn will be the installation of a mega-state in place of the present 27-member European Union: a continent-wide federated state centrally ruled from Brussels, with a full-time appointed president and a foreign policy minister authorized to sign treaties, its own judicial and law-enforcement systems, military presence, eventual power to tax the citizenry directly, increased regulatory powers, and the removal of any vestiges of national sovereignty.

The vote wasn’t even close: 67.1 to 32.9 percent of the 58 percent turnout, a much wider margin than had been suggested by recent polls which showed the “No” side surging forward. It far exceeded the June 12, 2008, referendum when the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty 53.4 to 46.6 percent, with a turnout of only 53.1 percent.

The size of the vote spread has raised strong suspicions of ballot box stuffing and vote-count fraud, prompting demands for an investigation. To date the government is ignoring the issue, and the count has been accepted as valid.

The 346-page treaty (also called the Reform Treaty) cannot come into effect until all members of the EU have ratified it. Ireland – the only nation whose citizens have been allowed to vote on the matter -- was holding up the parade. With what French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the “Irish problem” now out of the way, the process is back on track and near the end of its journey.

EU leaders were ecstatic. Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, declared: "Today is a beautiful day for Europe. Today is the first day of a new future for Europe, united, democratic, effective and strong. … We will be able to speak with one voice in the world and to provide the answers our citizens need."

In a press statement Irish Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Brian Cowen essentially seconded Verhofstadt, claiming: “We as a nation have taken a decisive step for a stronger, fairer and better Ireland, and a stronger, fairer and better Europe.”

Cowen applauded the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who, he said: “listened to the people of Ireland and acted in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect that defines the European Union. That helped us to secure the vital guarantees that made today’s victory possible.”

“Sad Day for Democracy”

But not everyone saw cause for celebration.

“For those of us who believe in democracy, it is galling to hear officials in Brussels congratulate the Irish people for speaking with a ‘clear voice’ on the Lisbon Treaty,” declared Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked-Online. “The Irish people have spoken, yes, but in the voice of someone put into a headlock by far more powerful forces.”

And Lorraine Mullally, director of the London-based think tank open Europe, which strongly opposes the political consolidation of Europe, called it a “sad day for democracy in Europe.”

“The Lisbon Treaty transfers huge new powers to the EU and away from ordinary people and national parliaments,” Mullally said. “EU elites will be popping the champagne and slapping each other on the back for managing to bully Ireland in to reversing its first verdict on this undemocratic Treaty. But most ordinary people around Europe will not welcome this news, as they were never given a chance to have their say on the Treaty.”


Mullally and O’Neill were speaking particularly of the intense pressure placed on Ireland’s voters “to get it right this time.”

On the “Yes” side was the entire power elite of Ireland and the EU -- virtually all government employees and the Irish Parliament, the entire Irish media, trade unions, the banking and financial community, the Irish bishops, and a slew of multinational corporations. EU critic and columnist Christopher Booker reports that the European Commission poured €1.5 million [$2.2 million] into an “unprecedented advertising blitz,” while EU Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso (of Portugal), and an assortment of MEPs and officials “have been flooding in to promote the cause.”

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce got involved, issuing a dire warning that a No would cost Ireland some 300,000 jobs.

These were well-positioned to oppose the politically disparate groups and individuals arrayed against them -- traditional Roman Catholics, nationalists, libertarians, conservatives, and socialists. These were all fiercely committed to the cause of defeating the treaty but for a galaxy of different reasons, and lacked the funding and organization necessary to win a contest of this importance and magnitude.

It was a David-and-Goliath struggle. David had very little chance.

An “Extraordinary Slow-Motion Coup d'Etat”

It’s taken over 60 years to morph what was billed in the 1950s as a simple trade alliance of sovereign nations into a politically and economically consolidated bloc. Christopher Booker, who has been watching and reporting on the European Union for years, calls it “the most extraordinary slow-motion coup d'état in history.”

“Treaty by treaty, without most people recognising its true underlying agenda – and leaving the nation states and their institutions in place as if nothing too dramatic was happening – this new government gradually took over the powers of national parliaments,” Booker wrote in a column shortly before referendum day. “It already decides far more of our laws and how we are governed than any mainstream politician ever dares admit.”

He continued: “In 2001, however, the EU's leaders decided the moment had at last arrived for their project to come out in the open. It was ready to take its place on the world stage as a sovereign power in its own right, complete with president, foreign minister, currency, armed forces and all the attributes of a fully-fledged state. What was needed above all to mark this historic step was a constitution.”

A constitution was drafted by a puppet convention, but in 2005 French and Dutch voters “had the audacity to say ‘No.’ Faced with the most serious reverse the project had ever suffered, the EU’s leaders went into catatonic shock.”

The setback was short-lived. The constitution was reformatted as a treaty which enabled the Dutch and French parliaments to ratify what the people of those countries had rejected. Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, an architect of the constitution – who likens his work to that of the Founding Fathers -- admitted that the changes to the document were “few and far between … and more cosmetic than real.”

It was signed in Lisbon on Dec. 13, 2007, by representatives of 27 nations. But there was a hitch. A 1987 ruling by the Irish High Court held that only the Irish people, not its politicians, can amend the country’s basic law, the Constitution. Any surrender of sovereignty to European institutions must be decided by the people themselves in a referendum, the Court ruled. That is why the Irish were able to vote on the matter, the only people with the right to do so.

It’s no secret that EU leaders were determined that Ireland would not say No a second time. But what if Ireland not fallen into line?

In an e-mail Ashley Mote, an English MEP from 2004-2009, told NewsWithViews: “In theory the treaty fails. But we all know the EU bureaucrats do not understand the word ‘No’ – look what happened when the French and Dutch threw out the last version. One of them actually said to me once ‘Nothing is ever No for ever.’”

Things to Come

The treaty’s been sold to the public as a necessary means of “streamlining decision-making” within the European Union, but the media have chosen to ignore or given only a few specifics about the pending provisions, particularly the expansion and centralizing of police powers. Treaty promoters have made much of the negotiations with Ireland regarding the treaty, implying that all concerns were swept away – that the negotiators had “listened” to what the people said. But a recent study by Open Europe – titled “How the Irish Government Lost in the Negotiations”-- reports that of the 149 amendments Ireland proposed to the text, only 36 resulted in changes to the treaty, while 113 were rejected – a success rate of just 24 percent.


Incredibly, Dick Roche, the Irish government’s representative to the European Convention who had proposed the amendments and presumably fought for them, describes the finished product as “balanced,” one that “represents a particularly good deal for the small and medium-sized member states.”

Says Roche: “The distance that are EU partners have traveled to meet the concerns of the Irish people demonstrate the remarkable solidarity that exists within the Union. It demonstrates also the respect that the Union has for this nation and for its citizens.”

The report details the 25 most important rejected amendments, and these cover a range of changes. For instance:

Appointment of a permanent EU President. At present, the EU presidency is on a rotation basis of six-month terms among the member states. This allows each country – no matter how small – to set the agenda in Europe for six months at a time on an equal basis with other states. The new president, will serve a five-year term and be appointed by ministers acting by majority vote and with no input from national parliaments. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is a frontrunner for the job.

Loss of the national veto in key policy areas. The treaty scraps the national veto that allows countries to block EU-wide measures in 60 areas of policy seen as not in their national interest, handing over to the EU the power to make laws regarding public services, jurisprudence, law enforcement, immigration, energy, transportation, tourism, sports, culture, public health, the EU budget, climate change, and so on.

It’s not clear how often – if ever – national parliaments have exercised their veto power, so the point could be moot.

Creation of a European Public Prosecutor. The Lisbon Treaty allows for creation of a European Public Prosecutor. The Irish government argued there was “no convincing or compelling case” for one, and that the proposed arrangements “do not respect the different legal traditions of Member States.”

The Irish government was particularly concerned about new provisions allowing the EU to define criminal offences and sanctions, plans for the EU to mandate harmonization of the criminal codes of the various nations, and FBI-style powers for Europol.

Neutrality and “Obscene Militarization” of the EU: Catherine Connally, a barrister and Galway city councilor, actively campaigned for a No vote particularly because of the set of new obligations for increased military development and participation.

“Most frightening of all … is the obscene militarization of the EU,” Connally wrote in a statement for the BBC. “Indeed the 20-plus pages setting out our binding obligations are significantly the clearest part of the treaty.”

Under Lisbon, Ireland will be allowed to maintain its treasured neutrality, with a referendum required if the government wishes to participate in a “common defense.” However, Connally points out: “member states are obliged to progressively improve their military capabilities, contribute to a start-up fund for military purposes, and are obliged to come to the assistance of another member state if it is subject to armed aggression on its territory -- without the need for a referendum. For the latter action, the government has merely to decide that it does not prejudice the specific character of our security and defense policy.”

Moreover, the European Defense Agency is “enshrined in the treaty itself for the first time and in reality represents the green light for the arms industry.”

Return of the Death Penalty: This issue has generated a great deal of interest among EU critics. European nations have abolished capital punishment, but the Lisbon Treaty brings it back through the back door by way of some small print -- not for crimes against individuals, such as homicide, but for insurrection and rioting against the state.

Karl A. Schachtschneider, Professor of Public Law at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, who has been actively opposing the new provisions, made some chilling observations in an interview with Zurich-based Current Concerns (some added emphasis).

Schachtschneider: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in its ‘explanations’ and ‘negative definitions’ accompanying the fundamental rights, allows a reintroduction of the death penalty in case of war or imminent war, but also the killing of humans to suppress insurgency or riot. This is in contradiction to the abolishment of the death penalty in Germany (Article 102 of the German Constitution), in Austria and elsewhere which results from the principle of dignity. …

Q: Can you imagine one reason why anything like this is passed?

K.S. Obviously, the governments expect riots. Skepticism towards the governments and the EU apparatus is growing and growing. The financial and economic crisis increases the pressure on the population.

Q: So they want to be allowed to shoot them?

K.S. This is what it looks like.

In light of the recent rioting by French farmers over falling food prices, Schachtschneider’s words are especially ominous.

UPDATE: After an initial reluctance, Polish President Lech Kaczynski signed the Lisbon Treaty on Oct. 10; some 557 days after the Polish parliament had passed it.

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Now only Czech President Vaclav Klaus is holding out, and he has confirmed that he wants the Czech Republic to seek an opt-out clause from the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights as a condition for his signature. Both Klaus and Kaczynski were reportedly waiting to see how the Irish would vote, hoping against hope for a No, that would provide a chance for possible reconsideration by all member states.

NOTE: The Lisbon Treaty amends the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht; 1992) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome; 1957). In the process, the TEC is renamed to Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Lisbon Treaty is the final treaty. When ratified by all the nations and fully implemented there will be no more treaties.

Earlier Stories

1 - Eugene Narrett: World Federation, Friends and Money, Oct. 16, 2009
2 - Constance Cumbey: Javier Solana: Getting Tough? Showing Teeth at Last?, Dec. 16, 2007
3 - Constance Cumbey: The EU Deal, June 25, 2007
4 - Deanna Spingola: The One World: The Trans Atlantic Economic Integration, May 13, 2007
5 – Nikki Raapana: CAFTA, the EU, and Communitarian Law (Part 1) Jan. 25, 2006. (Part 2), Jan. 25, 2006
6 - Ashley Mote: Beware! Diabolical Forces Behind European Union, Aug. 8, 2005: Excellent on-the-scene report about the internal workings of the European Union by an English MEP. Mr. Mote was elected to the European Parliament in 2004, and sat as an Independent until 2009.
NOTE: Mr. Mote will be speaking at the Annual Radio Liberty Seminar sponsored by Dr. Stanley Monteith, Sunday, Oct. 25, near Santa Cruz, Calif. For information: 800-544-8927.
7 - Sharon Hughes: Is This the End of the EU? June 10, 2005

Sources, Reports and Related Articles

1 - Europa: Lisbon Treaty at a Glance. Note: Europa is the portal site of the European Union:
2 - Europa: Full Text of the Lisbon Treaty.
3 - Report: Summary of 13 Things the Lisbon Treaty Would Do: July 9, 2009. Issued by the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Ave., Dublin 9; Tel.: 01-8305792; Director Anthony Coughlan. This document has been compiled with the aid of authorities on European and Irish constitutional law. See also web-site.
4 - Briefing Note: How Ireland Lost Out in the Negotiations: Open Europe, Sept. 4, 2009
5 - Christopher Booker: Ireland's EU Referendum is the Last Stand Against the 'Project': Sunday Telegraph, Sept. 26, 2009
6 - Christopher Booker: Lisbon Crowns a History of Deceit: Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 21, 2007
7 - Anne Jolis: How the EU Got Irish Voters to 'Yes': Wall Street Journal, Oct. 4, 2009
8 - Prof. Karl A. Schachtschneider [interview]: Say No to the EU Death Penalty: Current Concerns, Zurich, Sept. 2009
9 - Catherine Connally: Irish Viewpoints on Lisbon Treaty: BBC, Sept. 28, 2009. Focuses on “Obscene Militarization.”
10 - Bruno Waterfield and Christopher Bickerton: NO Means NO! Essays on the Eve of the European Council Meeting: Manifesto Club, London, Dec. 2008
11 - Derek Bennett, editor: Euro Realist Newsletter/Blog
12 - The Gov Monitor: 10 Facts about the Lisbon Treaty Everyone Should Know:, Oct. 18, 2009

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Sarah Foster is a researcher and freelance writer:











The size of the vote spread has raised strong suspicions of ballot box stuffing and vote-count fraud, prompting demands for an investigation. To date the government is ignoring the issue, and the count has been accepted as valid.