Lisbon Treaty News: Europe with us, Elites against

McCreevy: 95% of countries would probably have voted No in Lisbon Treaty referendums
Saturday’s Irish Times reported on EU Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy’s comments last week, in which he said, “When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway. On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been No as well.”

Saturday’s Irish Independent also reported that he said that Irish people should not be ashamed about how they voted, and quoted him saying “I’ve never been ashamed to stand up for the way we do our business here. We do it by referendum. That’s democracy.”

EurActiv quotes Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally saying that the Irish Commissioner’s “honesty” had “touched a nerve” and that his statement “probably reflects what most other EU leaders think themselves”.

Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing Irish Times Irish Independent EurActiv Economist: Charlemagne blog Telegraph Sunday Telegraph Irish Times 2
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Bruce Arnold: Ireland’s “legal guarantees are worthless”
Under the headline, “Government has abandoned democracy to get a ‘Yes’ vote”, Bruce Arnold argued in Saturday’s Irish Independent that Irish PM Brian Cowen was “abandoning democracy the day after the vote. He was then servile in courting European countries, telling them how sorry he was that the Irish people had insulted Europe and assuring them of changed times ahead. He then isolated a few marginal issues, none sufficient for the size of the huge vote, invented a survey of the “real” Irish view on Lisbon and claimed that amending doubts about neutrality, abortion and taxation would do the trick. No need, he said, to look further into the more serious and fundamental EU drawbacks.”

He continued, “The legal guarantees are worthless and do not change the treaty. However, they had the desired effect. A number of foolish and misguided public figures, respected for talk shows on television, selling groceries, writing poetry, went public and said they would vote ‘Yes’.”

In the Irish Independent, columnist Maurice Hayes writes “The clarifications [protocols] in this case are less an explanation of what is in the treaty, than an affirmation of what is not. More nuanced it may be, but the question remains the same — as does the treaty.”
Irish Independent: Arnold Irish Independent

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EU OBSERVER                                     29.6.09

Irish commissioner says EU Treaty would be rejected in most countries

HONOR MAHONY

Ireland’s EU commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, has said that the Lisbon Treaty would be rejected by most member states if put to a referendum (Irish Times,

With just a few months to go before his own country’s second referendum on the document, the plain-speaking former finance minister said 95 percent of the 27 member states would have said “no” to the new institutional rules if it had been put to a vote.

The commissioner, in charge of the internal market, reckons all leaders know this and it is only officials working in the EU institutions who have unrealistic expectations about the popularity of the treaty, designed to streamline how the EU functions and removing the unanimity requirement for decision-making in most policy areas.

“When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway,” he told the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland on Friday (26 June), reports the Irish Times.

“On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been ‘No’ as well.”

“I have always divided the reaction between those two forces: those within the beltway, the ‘fonctionnaires’, those who gasp with horror [on the one hand] and the heads of state, who are far more realistic. They are glad they didn’t have to put the question themselves to their people.”

Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum a year ago. In the run up to that vote, Mr McCreevy stole the headlines by saying he had not read the treaty from cover to cover and that no “sane” person had done so.

His admission prompted Irish journalists to ask other politicians about whether they had done their Lisbon homework, eventually exposing the fact that Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen had not read it either.

This time round, Irish voters, shaken by the devastating effects the economic crisis has had on the country, are thought more like to vote “Yes”. Recent polls have indicated a majority intend to give the green light to the document,
At a summit earlier in June, EU leaders agreed to a set of guarantees on the Lisbon Treaty designed to persuade voters to say “Yes”.

The treaty needs to be approved by all member states before going into force. Ratification has also not yet been completed in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, where the president of all three countries have to sign the document.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL     26.6.09
The EU’s Latest Power Grab

From today’s Wall Street Journal Europe

In some countries they rig votes, in the European Union they repeat votes to get the desired result.

After Ireland last year rejected the EU’s Lisbon Treaty — itself a rehashed carbon-copy of the EU Constitution that Dutch and French voters rebuffed in 2005 — the Irish are being asked to reconsider. There will be another referendum in early October, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Wednesday, and this time the Irish are expected to get it right. In Europe, they don’t take “no” for an answer.

Proponents say the Lisbon Treaty is key to reforming the squeaky institutions of the 27-member union. Skeptics, including a majority in Ireland, see a significant power grab. The Treaty gives the EU a nonelected president, a quasi foreign minister, a beefier defense and foreign policy and fewer national vetoes in a number of policy areas.

To justify a revote, EU leaders put on a big show at last week’s summit, giving the impression of tough negotiations in which Dublin supposedly won important concessions. The main prize Mr. Cowen took home is a protocol that claims to address Irish concerns, such as worries that the Treaty would allow the EU to meddle in Irish taxation, abortion issues, workers rights and neutrality.

Oh really? According to the EU summit’s own conclusions, the protocol “will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.” So the Irish will vote on the same text they previously rejected by a seven-percentage-point margin despite assurances by their government as recently as last month that this would not happen.

In the year since the last vote, the Irish economy has tanked, and a pro-Brussels vote this time is possible if only because many Irish worry that the EU may abandon them in their economic hour of need. It’s a fear the government knows how to exploit. A precondition for economic recovery, Mr. Cowen said Wednesday, is to “remove the doubt about where our country stands in relation to Europe.”

Just a couple of weeks ago the bien pensants in Brussels bemoaned the success of euroskeptics in European Parliamentary elections. This latest run-around on the Lisbon Treaty for the purpose of boosting the power of the EU at the expense of individual states is not the way to create more europhiles.

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24 June 2009

Gordon Brown: Irish ‘guarantees’ will “clarify not change” the Lisbon Treaty
Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron clashed in the Commons last night over the ‘clarifications’ given to Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty. PA notes that Brown insisted that the ‘guarantees’ given to Ireland would “clarify but not change” the Lisbon Treaty. Brown said that a new protocol would in no way alter the relationship between the EU and member states.  He said: “To be absolutely clear, the Heads of State or Government have declared: the Protocol will in no way alter the relationship between the EU and its Member States. The sole purpose of the Protocol will be to give full Treaty status to the clarifications set out in the Decision to meet the concerns of the Irish people. The Protocol will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon”.

Brown added, “They have received their clarifications. It will be set out in a protocol. It will come to all Houses of Parliament, at the next accession treaty, when that has to be confirmed by these Houses of Parliament.”

Cameron responded saying, “Why are Irish voters being forced to give their views twice when the British people haven’t been asked for their views once?”  He also criticised the method by which Ireland’s ‘guarantees’ are expected to become legally binding: “Will you explain why the protocols won’t be debated or put into place until the next countries join the EU. Isn’t it the case the Government wants to delay this until after the next election. They don’t want the embarrassment of having to vote yet again in the Commons to deny people the referendum they originally promised.”

When asked “do the guarantees have legal effect and if so how?”, Brown answered: “They will be deposited in the way that often happens at the United Nations and will have legal effect from the time that the Lisbon Treaty is in power.”

Meanwhile, writing in the Irish Times, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen sets out his reasons why Irish people should vote ‘Yes’ in the second referendum.  He claims that “accusations that the outcome of the summit was a pre-cooked charade are wrong and highly insulting to our EU partners.”  He says, “Many member states struggled with Irish reluctance to sign up to what they see as a necessary updating of the union’s rulebook. Some were alarmed at being asked to agree guarantees on issues not even mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty. Others, perfectly legitimately, did not wish to reopen their own democratic ratification processes.”

The paper notes that Cowen will name the exact date for the second Lisbon Treaty referendum when legislation to allow it take place goes through Ireland’s Dáil and Seanad in a fortnight’s time.
Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 Irish Times: Cowen Hansard Open Europe blog

German MEP threatens Ireland with “second class” status and “isolation” if it rejects the Lisbon Treaty again

The Parliament reports that senior German MEP Jo Leinen has warned that Ireland risks being relegated to a “second class” nation if it again rejects the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum scheduled for the autumn. Leinen said, “If there is a ‘No’ vote in Ireland I think we are likely to see a two-speed Europe emerge, with Ireland being in what might be called the ‘second class’.
The Parliament

European Commission wants database for all 500 million citizens, raising “big brother” concerns

The European Commission has proposed to set up a new agency to oversee all its large-scale IT systems, thereby bringing together management of three key systems – the Schengen Information System, Visa Information System and Eurodac – plus other related applications, into a single operational structure. Webwereld reports that human right groups have expressed fears for big brother implications, as this would mean that data on all 500 million European Union citizens and all illegal migrants would be merged into a database for “freedom and security”. The cost of the system would be ¤113 million in the first 3 years, and later ¤10 million per year following that.
Computing.co.uk Webwereld

Spain’s ¤2.7bn in EU fishing subsidies accused of exacerbating overfishing

According to the Guardian, Spain has received more than ¤2.7bn in subsidies in the last 12 years for fishing practices which exacerbate overfishing. Markus Knigge, Research Director for Pew Environment Group has said that “rather than encouraging sustainable fishing, subsidies have contributed to ever-greater capacity of fishing fleets and in turn to the depletion of valuable fish stocks”.

According to the paper, similar levels of subsidies exist in the current 2007-2013 budget period, with some of the biggest cash windfalls going to ships notorious for their questionable practices. Greenpeace named a Spanish trawler which has received more than ¤4m in subsidies as “the most egregious offender against vulnerable stocks of Mediterranean blue fin tuna”. A new website, “fishsubsidy.org” has been created to establish greater transparency about EU fishing subsidies.
EurActiv Guardian

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Mary Ellen Synon in Irish Daily Mail, 17 June, article entitled ‘The new Stasi’.

17 June 2009
The lives of … all of us
You know what they say about restaurants: there is no such thing as just one rat in the kitchen. It is the same here in Brussels. This week the Irish have finally seen the draft of assurances Brian Cowen’s government want from the other EU members before they make the Irish vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. The draft is a rat, but I’l deal with it later, after I’ve seen what is going to happen to the ‘assurances’ tomorrow and Friday at the European Council. Today I will deal with one of the other rats in Brussels, the Stockholm Programme.

It is unlikely you have ever heard of the Stockholm Programme. It has only just been published. However, a committee known as the Future Group, organised by the justice commission, started planning it in January 2007. The full name of the Future Group is ‘the Informal High Level Advisory Group of the Future of European Home Affairs Policy.’ The British had no representative on it, merely an ‘observer.’

The group’s findings have been bundled up as the Stockholm Programme. Here is how it works. The Lisbon Treaty gives new legal powers to the European institutions over, among other things, cross-border police co-operation, counter-terrorism, immigration, asylum and border controls. The Stockholm Programme outlines how the justice commission will implement these new legal powers for the next five years.

The commission claims the programme covers policy on ‘freedom, security and justice serving the citizen.’ Look closer and you will see it actually covers policy for restrictions on the citizen, surveillance by the European state — yes, your fingerprints, credit card charges, email traffic and health records are now going to be available from Galway to Bucharest — and the destruction of British judicial independence by the European institutions. Stockholm is a rat, and a big one.

If you don’t want to take it from a right-wing libertarian like me, you can take it from a whole pack of left-wing libertarians, the European Civil Liberties Network. The ECLN is made up of groups drawn from across Europe. One of the founders was Gareth Peirce, solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, and more lately for one of the prisoners at Guantanamo. Here is what the ECLN have to say about the Stockholm Programme: the policies outlined in Stockholm ‘constitute an attack on civil liberties and human rights.’ The warn against ‘dangerous authoritarian tendencies within the EU.’

They are right to do so. Under EU legislation, state agencies are already implementing comprehensive surveillance regimes and beginning to  build up what the ECLN calls a ‘previously unimaginably detailed profile of the private and political lives of their citizens.’ This is often done in the absence of any data protection standards, judicial or democratic controls.

‘The EU has gone much further than the USA in terms of the legislation it has adopted to place its citizens under surveillance. While the Patriot Act has achieved notoriety, the EU has quietly adopted legislation on the mandatory fingerprinting of all EU passport, visa and residence permit-holders and the mandatory retention — for general law enforcement purposes — of all telecommunications data (our telephone, e-mail and internet usage records).’

The Future Group and their Stockholm Programme say they foresee a ‘digital tsunami’ that will revolutionise law enforcement. Add this to the fact that, as the ECLN says, ‘EU data protection law has already been left behind, with surveillance all but exempted. Individual rights to privacy and freedoms are being fatally undermined.’

One of the most rat-like things about these new proposals is the plan to set up a ‘Homeland Security’ industry. Billions of euros may be given as subsidies to European corporations to help them compete with US industries in developing security equipment and technology. If you knew how many thousands of uncontrolled, unregistered corporate lobbyists there are in Brussels, you would recognise the hand of European technology corporations in the drafting of this programme. Brussels will give the military-industrial corporations billions in European taxpayers’ money, and in return the corporations will deliver technology that helps all the new European security forces track every one of us.

What is coming out of this will undoubtedly be an EU identity card and population register. Even Dick Cheney didn’t dare try that one. There will be the power of security forces (forget ‘cops,’ what you are going to be hearing more and more about are ‘security forces’) to search computer hard-drives. But the security forces won’t be coming through your door with a warrant. The searches will be ‘remote,’ online. This will be a particular threat to lawyers, journalists and any politicians opposing these growing EU powers. The policy of remote hard-drive searches was first proposed for the EU by the German government in June 2008. Yes, the German government want a euro-Stasi. It really is so satisfying when politicians live up to their national stereotype.

Statewatch, another organisation monitoring civil liberties in Europe, is also warning against the Stockholm Programme. In an analysis of the Future Group’s report by Tony Bunyan, he writes: ‘European government and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone — on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived “threats.”‘

‘There is an assumption, on this and wider issues in the EU, that “if it is technologically possible, why should it not be introduced?”‘

He notes that the EU’s Schengen Information System (SIS) is to be upgraded to hold more categories of data (including fingerprints and DNA), access to all the data is tobe extended to all agencies (police, immigration and customs).’ The commission has proposed a system to track the names of all passengers in and out of the EU, but some governments ‘do not like limiting the use of data to terrorism and organsied crime and want to extend the proposals’ scope from just in and out of the EU to travel between EU states and even within each state.’ They want to extend it to sea travel and car travel, too: all those specialised cameras developed for reading car registration plates make it possible.

Ah, but ordinary people will be told that if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. Ordinary people who believe that  will then never realise, as Mr Bunyan says, ‘why they did not get a job interview because their employer had access to a criminal record based on a “spent” conviction or why their application for an insurance policy failed because the company had access to their health record.’

The final agreement on all this is due to be adopted by heads of state and government at a meeting in Stockholm in December. Between now and then there is nothing any of us can do to stop it — except force David Cameron to give Britain a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, no matter how many other countries have already ratified the treaty. Remember, the legal powers to establish this new techno-surveillance are only delivered to Brussels by the Lisbon Treaty. So demand a referendum, then vote No: or your secret ballot on Lisbon may be the last secret left to you.

17 June 2009 10:52 AM
The lives of … all of us

____________

What the European Community is doing on our behalf.
Brussels, 4.6.2009  COM(2009) 255 final  2009/0073 (CNS)
Proposal for a
COUNCIL DECISION
on the signing, on behalf of the Community, of the Arrangement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, of the other part, on the modalities of the participation by those States in the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union
Proposal for a
COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion, on behalf of the Community, of the Arrangement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, of the other part, on the modalities of the participation by those States in the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0255:FIN:EN:PDF

McCreevy slams “hidden” tax plan – May 2007

Bernard Purcell
in Brussels.

Ireland’s EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy yesterday broke ranks with his Brussels colleagues and officials in an unprecedented outspoken attack on  their “long-term hidden agenda” for a common corporation tax base.

Mr McCreevy told a business lunch in Dublin  the proposal currently under consideration, and due to become Community law next year, is a “sinister” idea that “refuses to die”.

He attacked the way permanent officials in the Commission  sought to smuggle the proposal through by saying it would be “optional” when it was really “an unworkable charade” and  “underhand tactic to destroy tax competition in Europe”.

NOT WORKABLE

“Optionality is not workable and it is hard to believe the designers of the proposal don’t realise that,” he said

“The deliberately unworkable proposals (for a common consolidated tax base)  amount to a Trojan horse to enable the Commission take control of taxation”, Commissioner  Charlie McCreevy suggested. He said that it  was part of a “long-term hiden agenda”, a “sinister idea that refuses to die”
– Irish Independent, 12 May 2007

Individual member states – especially the smaller ones – would either no longer be able, or have the incentive, to manage effectively their public finances or direct foreign investment.

Ireland has the most competitive corporation tax rate of the EU-15, currently  at 12.5 pc. Some of the larger countries like France, Britain  and Germany have rates of 28 pc and higher.

He added that companies’ tax advisers  would go “regime shopping” between the 27 tax regimes and a 28th “common” base run by Brussels.

Inevitably there would be “leakage” from individual national exchequers leaing to complaints from countries, thus opening the door to “the permanent officials in DG Tax to say optionality should go”.

Another reason “optionality”  woud be pre-determined to fail is because as countries realised they would be writing fat cheques to other members of the “opted in” club, they would stay out, leaving a shrinking pool of states with clear “winners and losers”.

Even more sinister, said the Competition Commissioner, were plans to give the lion’s share of consolidated tax revenues to bigger countries like Germany and France at the expense of smaller natlons.

It was clear from 50 years of history  “and the reality of the institutional continuity of the Commission and its culture” that no matter how often certain proposals might be turned down, the officials sneak them out in different guises, he said.

“What is envisaged by those seeking to foist a CCCTB on Europe is quite different to what appears  on the label,” warned McCreevy. “It is important that Member States understand fully what is going on,” he said.

_______

“The deliberately unworkable proposals (for a common consolidated tax base in the EU)  amount to a Trojan horse to enable the Commission take control of taxation”, Commissioner  Charlie McCreevy suggested. He said that it  was part of a “long-term hidden agenda –  a sinister idea that refuses to die”

Even more sinister, said the Competition Commissioner, were plans to give the lion’s share of consolidated tax revenues to bigger countries like Germany and France at the expense of smaller natlons.

It was clear from 50 years of history  “and the reality of the institutional continuity of the Commission and its culture” that no matter how often certain proposals might be turned down, the officials sneak them out in different guises, he said.

“What is envisaged by those seeking to foist a CCCTB on Europe is quite different to what appears  on the label,” warned McCreevy. “It is important that Member States understand fully what is going on,” he said.

– Irish Independent, 12 May 2007

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