Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner: Václav Klaus, Cohn-Bendit, Pöttering, Brian Crowley

Excerpts from the meeting between Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, and members of the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament, Friday 5 December 2008, Prague Castle:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit MEP: I brought you a flag, which – as we heard – you have everywhere here at the Prague Castle. It is the flag of the European Union, so I will place it here in front of you.

It will be a tough Presidency. The Czech Republic will have to deal with the work directive and climate package. EU climate package represents less than what our fraction would wish for. It will be necessary to hold on to the minimum of that. I am certain that the climate change represents not only a risk, but also a danger for the future development of the planet. My view is based on scientific views and majority approval of the EP and I know you disagree with me. You can believe what you want, I don’t believe, I know that global warming is a reality.

Lisbon Treaty – I don’t care about your opinions on it. I want to know what you are going to do if the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Senate approve it. Will you respect the will of the representatives of the people? You will have to sign it.

I want you to explain to me what is the level of your friendship with Mr Ganley from Ireland. How can you meet a person whose funding is unclear? You are not supposed to meet him in your function. It is a man whose finances come from problematic sources and he wants to use them to be funding his election campaign into the EP.

President Vaclav Klaus: I must say that nobody has talked to me in such a style and tone for the past 6 years. You are not on the barricades in Paris here. I thought that these manners ended for us 18 years ago but I see I was wrong. I would not dare to ask how the activities of the Greens are funded. If you are concerned about a rational discussion in this half an hour, which we have, please give the floor to someone else, Mr Chairman.

EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering: No, we have plenty of time. My colleague will continue, because anyone from the members of the EP can ask you whatever he likes. (to Cohn-Bendit:) Please continue.

President Vaclav Klaus: This is incredible. I have never experienced anything like this before.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Because you have not experienced me…

President Vaclav Klaus: This is incredible.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit: We have always had good talks with President Havel. And what will you tell me about your attitude towards the anti-discrimination law? I will gladly inform you about our funding.

Hans-Gert Pöttering: Brian Crowley, please.

Brian Crowley MEP: I am from Ireland and I am a member of a party in government. All his life my father fought against the British domination. Many of my relatives lost their lives. That is why I dare to say that the Irish wish for the Lisbon Treaty. It was an insult, Mr. President, to me and to the Irish people what you said during your state visit to Ireland. It was an insult that you met Declan Ganley, a man with no elected mandate. This man has not proven the sources from which his campaign was funded. I just want to inform you what the Irish felt. I wish you that you get the programme of your Presidency through and you will get through what European citizens want to see.

President Vaclav Klaus:  Thank you for this experience which I gained from this meeting. I did not think anything like this is possible and have not experienced anything like this for the past 19 years. I thought it was a matter of the past that we live in democracy, but it is post-democracy, really, which rules the EU.

You mentioned the European values. The most important value is freedom and democracy. The citizens of the EU member states are concerned about freedom and democracy, above all. But democracy and freedom are loosing ground in the EU today. It is necessary to strive for them and fight for them.

I would like to emphasize, above all, what most citizens of the Czech Republic feel, that for us the EU membership has no alternative. It was me who submitted the EU application in the year 1996 and who signed the Accession treaty in 2003. But the arrangements within the EU have many alternatives. To take one of them as sacrosanct, untouchable, about which it is not possible to doubt or criticize it, is against the very nature of Europe.

As for the Lisbon Treaty, I would like to mention that it is not ratified in Germany either. The Constitutional Treaty, which was basically the same as the Lisbon Treaty, was refused in referendums in other two countries. If Mr. Crowley speaks of an insult to the Irish people, then I must say that the biggest insult to the Irish people is not to accept the result of the Irish referendum. In Ireland I met somebody who represents a majority in his country. You, Mr. Crowley, represent a view which is in minority in Ireland. That is a tangible result of the referendum.

Brian Crowley MEP: With all respect, Mr. President, you will not tell me what the Irish think. As an Irishman, I know it best.

President Vaclav Klaus: I do not speculate about what the Irish think. I state the only measurable data which were proved by the referendum.

In our country the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified because our parliament has not decided on it yet. It is not the President’s fault. Let’s wait for the decision of both Chambers of the Parliament, that is the current phase of the ratification process in which the President plays no role whatsoever. I cannot sign the Treaty today, it is not on my table, it is up to the parliament to decide about it now. My role will come after the eventual approval of the Treaty in the Parliament. . .

Hans-Gert Pöttering: … In the conclusion – and I want to leave this room in good terms –  I would like to say that it is more than unacceptable, if you compare us, compare us with the Soviet Union. We are all deeply rooted in our countries and our constituencies. We are concerned about freedom and reconciliation in Europe, we are good willing, not naive.

President Vaclav Klaus: I did not compare you with the Soviet Union, I did not mention the word “Soviet Union”. I only said that I have not experienced such an atmosphere, such style of debate in the past 19 years in the Czech Republic, really.

First published on Indymedia.ie

Minister Dick Roche: “The People Have Spoken”

You may find of  interest the remarks below of Mr Dick Roche TD  when a backbencher in 2001  and before he was promoted to Minister for Europe, regarding the proposal to re-run the Nice referendum.

They provide a piquant contrast to some of his recent statements.

The voter turnout in the 2001 Nice referendum was 35%,  in contrast to the  majority turnout in the 12 June Lisbon referendum.

“THE IRISH PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.”

Mr Dick Roche TD on why it would be a “democratic affront” to re-run the Nice Treaty referendum without making changes to the Treaty… spoken when he was a Dail backbencher in 2001  and before he was made Minister for Europe

“It is foolhardy to talk about another referendum at this stage unless something fundamental changes. To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront. Something fundamental will have to be changed in the Nice treaty before we can even contemplate putting it before the people again.”

– Dail Debates, Vol. 358, pp. 1058-1061, 21 June 2001)

_________

Below are some further excerpts from the same Dail speech of Mr Roche, backbencher)

_________

 

“So far as the Nice Treaty is concerned, the Irish people have spoken and, like it or lump it, the Commission and its President have to accept it. They should do so with more good grace than they have shown in the recent past?

The Nice Treaty, no matter what its good intentions, is a document that has been democratically tested in only one Member State, and that is Ireland. It failed to meet the democratic test in this nation. It is an arrogance for any politician, either here or any Commissioner in Europe, to ignore the fundamental fact that the Irish people have spoken with some clarity on the matter. Yet last night the President of the Commission suggested that somehow or other the Irish people’s will can be undone. If the Commission, its leaders or the Governments of other European states decide to sweep democracy aside, we must ask on what basis is the future of Europe to be built?

Over the past two days I attended a meeting of the interim European Security and Defence Assembly. I was amazed and gratified in equal measure at the response by European parliamentarians from 28 different European nations to the Irish referendum.  It was an interesting and extraordinary eye-opener. There was no finger-wagging or suggestion that our people had been wrong or were confused; rather there was a degree of admiration for the decision the Irish had made. Speakers from the United Kingdom to Slovenia to Greece spoke on the issue. They indicated their support for the right of the Irish people to make a decision on this matter. They were by no means all Euro-sceptics. Speakers from a number of countries both within and outside the Union indicated that the Irish people by its vote reflected a common view and concern that now exists both within the EU and in those states most proximate to the EU. Members from the EU states who contributed directly in the debate or who spoke privately to the Irish delegation members indicated that it was their view – I made an effort to do a straw poll  – that referenda on the Nice Treaty as it currently stands, if held in other member states, would meet with the same public response as in Ireland.

There is something distinctly odd about democratic states attempting to take decisions that are out of line with the sentiment of their citizens. The gulf that exists between the citizens of Europe and the institutions, the commissioners and the bureaucrats who are now driving the Union, is nowhere more visible than in the area of peace, security and defence. In the run-up to the Nice Treaty the European Council decided, quite incredibly, that somehow the European Union could now take charge of peace, security and defence issues across the continent of Europe both within and outside the Union?

The issues raised by the rejection of the Nice Treaty in the referendum are of a fundamental nature.  I have listened with some dismay to today’s debate and the debate that has taken place in the weeks since the referendum. Many in the political leadership of the nation are more focused on making a political point about the referendum than on truly addressing the core issues behind the judgement passed by the people?

It is foolhardy to talk about another referendum at this stage unless something fundamental changes. To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront. Something fundamental will have to be changed in the Nice treaty before we can even contemplate putting it before the people again?
The Nice treaty is a complex document which intends to achieve complex things.  It was sold to the Irish people as a means of providing for the enlargement of the European  Union. Last night Mr Prodi made it very clear that was not what the treaty  is about. He did not, however, make clear precisely what it is about. He was saying, therefore, that the enlargement process could be achieved without the Nice treaty.

I mentioned the assembly I attended yesterday and the considerable interest shown in the decision of the Irish people.  Some thought-provoking contributors indicated that the opportunity afforded the Irish people should also be offered to the citizens of other member states. Maybe then Europe would get a clear message about what the people of Europe expect in the coming years.”

– Dick Roche, 2001

Lisbon Treaty: “the proposals we dare not present directly”

“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.”
– Former French President V.Giscard D’Estaing, who helped to draw up the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums and which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty, Le Monde, 14 June 2007
_______

“France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments … There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.”
– French President Nicolas Sarkozy,at meeting of senior MEPs, EUobserver, 14 November 2007
_______

“The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through the old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, The Independent, London, 30 October 2007
______

“They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
– Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, recorded by Open Europe, The Centre for European Reform, London, 12 July 2007
_____

“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire.”
Commission President J-M Barroso, The Brussels Journal, 11 July 2007
_______

“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.
– Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007
_______

“The good thing about not calling it a Constltution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.
– Giuliano Amato, speech at London School of Economics, 21 February 2007

*HOW THE LISBON TREATY WILL AFFECT… Your Pay, Your Say, Your way of life

HOW THE LISBON TREATY WILL AFFECT…

YOUR PAY

1. Lisbon will copperfasten the December 2007 Laval/Vaxholm judgement of the EU Court of Justice, which makes it illegal for Governments or Trade Unions to enforce pay standards higher than the minimum wage for migrant workers. At the same time Lisbon would give the EU full control of immigration policy (Art.79 TFEU). This combination threatens the pay and working conditions of large numbers of Irish people. A new Treaty Protocol is needed to set the Laval judgement aside.

2. Lisbon will amend the existing EU treaties to give the EU Court of Justice the power to rule against Ireland’s 12.5% company tax rate if it decides that this is a “distortion of competition” in the EU’s internal market as compared with Germany’s 30% rate (Art.113 TFEU). This low rate of tax is the principal reason for foreign firms coming to Ireland and staying here when they come.

3. It will give the EU the power to impose its own EU taxes directly on us. The EU Prime Ministers would have to agree this and it would have to be approved by National Parliaments, but if that is done no further referendum would be needed in Ireland (Art.311 TFEU).

YOUR SAY

4. Lisbon is a power-grab by the Big States for control of the new post-Lisbon European Union. By basing EU law-making primarily on population size, the Lisbon Treaty would double Germany’s say on the EU Council of Ministers from 8% to 17%. France’s say would go from 8% today to 13%, and Britain’s and Italy’s from their current 8% to 12% each. Ireland’s voting weight on a population basis would be more than halved to 1% (Art.16 TEU).

5. It removes any Irish voice from the EU Commission, the body which has the monopoly of proposing all EU laws, for five years out of every 15 (Art.17.5 TEU).

6. It abolishes our right to decide who the Irish Commissioner is when it comes to our turn to be on the Commission, replacing it by a right to make “suggestions” only for the Commission President to decide (Art.17.7 TEU).

7. Lisbon will establish a legally quite new European Union in the constitutional form of a Federal EU State. This new EU based on the Lisbon Treaty would have the same name but would be fundamentally different from the present EU, which was founded by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty. Lisbon would turn Ireland into a provincial or regional state within this new Union, with the EU’s Constitution and laws being made superior to the Irish Constitution and laws in any case of conflict between the two. It would be the end of Ireland’s position as an independent sovereign State in the international community of States (Arts.1 and 47 TEU; Declaration No.17 concerning Primacy);

8. It will turn us all into real citizens for the first time of this new post-Lisbon European Union, owing obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our obedience and loyalty to Ireland and the Irish Constitution and laws. One can only be a citizen of a State. We would retain our Irish citizenship, but it would be subordinate to our EU Federal citizenship, as is normal for citizens of Federal States such as Germany, the USA, Switzerland, Canada etc. (Art.9 TEU).

9. Lisbon is a self-amending Treaty which would permit the EU Prime Ministers to shift most of the remaining EU policy areas where unanimity still exists, to majority voting, without need for new EU Treaties or referendums (Art.48 TEU).

YOUR WAY OF LIFE

10. Lisbon will give the EU Court of Justice the power to decide our rights as EU citizens, including such matters as the right to life, the right to strike, the rights of the child, the right to fair trial etc. Ireland’s Supreme Court would no longer have the final say (Art.6 TEU).

11. It hands over to the EU the power to make laws binding on us in 32 new policy areas, such as crime, justice and policing, public services, immigration, energy, transport, tourism, sport, culture, public health, the EU budget etc.

12. It will militarize the EU further, requiring Member States “to progressively improve their military capabilities”and to go to the defence of other Member States in the event of war (Art.42.7 TEU). This would make a mockery of traditional Irish neutrality and any pretence to an independent Irish foreign policy.

“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.” – V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President, who helped draw up the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums but which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty; Le Monde, 14 June 2007
______
Issued by The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Ave., Dublin 9; Tel: 01-8305792; Web-site: nationalplatform.org; Secretary Anthony Coughlan. Please photocopy and pass on to others.

*Lisbon Treaty: “there is a cleavage between people and governments”

WHAT TOP EU POLITICIANS SAY ABOUT THE LISBON TREATY/ EU CONSTITUTION
(These quotations are in chronological order backwards)

“France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments… A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.”
– French President Nicolas Sarkozy,at meeting of senior MEPs, EUobserver, 14 November 2007
_______

“The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through the old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, The Independent, London, 30 October 2007
______

‘ “I think it’s a bit upsetting… to see so many countries running away from giving their people an opportunity”, Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said on Sunday 21 October, according to the Irish Independent. ‘If you believe in something …why not let your people have a say in it. I think the Irish people should take the opportunity to show the rest of Europe that they believe in the cause, and perhaps others shouldn’t be so afraid of it,’ he added. “
– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, EU Observer, Brussels, 22 October 2007
______

“They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
– Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, recorded by Open Europe, The Centre for European Reform, London, 12 July 2007
_____

“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire.”
– Commission President J-M Barroso, The Brussels Journal, 11 July 2007
_____

“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.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, Le Monde, 14 June 2007, and Sunday Telegraph, 1 July 2007
____

” The most striklng change ( between the EU Constitution in its older and newer version ) is perhaps that in order to enable some governments to reassure their electorates that the changes will have no constitutional implications, the idea of a new and simpler treaty containing all the provisions governing the Union has now been dropped in favour of a huge series of individual amendments to two existing treaties. Virtual incomprehensibilty has thus replaced simplicity as the key approach to EU reform. As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.”
– Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Irish Taoiseach, Irish Times, 30 June 2007
_____
“The substance of the constitution is preserved.That is a fact.”
– German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speech in the European Parliament, 27 June 2007
_______

The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left.”
– Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, Jyllands-Posten, 25 June 2007
_______

“The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term ‘constitution’ “.
– Dermot Ahern, Irish Foreign Minister, Daily Mail Ireland, 25 June 2007
______
“90 per cent of it is still there…These changes haven’t made any dramatic change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004.”
– Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Independent, 24 June 2007
____

“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.”
– Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007
____

“The good thing about not calling it a Constltution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.”
– Giuliano Amato, speech at London School of Econmics, 21 February 2007

____

“Referendums make the process of approval of European treaties much more complicated and less predictable … I was in favour of a referendum as a prime minister, but it does make our lives with 27 member states in the EU much more difficult. If a referendum had to be held on the creation of the European Community or the introduction of the euro, do you think these would have passed?”
– Commission President Jose M. Barroso, Irish Times, 8 Feb.2007; quoting remarks in Het Financieele Dag and De Volkskrant, Holland; also quoted in EUobserver, 6 February 2007
_____

” It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralisation of powers away from the Member States and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin … Against the fundamental principle of the separation of powers, the essential European legislative functions lie with the members of the executive … The figures stated by the German Ministry of Justice make it quite clear. By far the large majority of legislation valid in Germany is adopted by the German Government in the Council of Ministers, and not by the German Parliament … And so the question arises whether Germany can still be referred to unconditionally as a parliamentary democracy at all, because the separation of powers as a fundamental constituting principle of the constitutional order in Germany has been cancelled out for large sections of the legislation applying to this country … The proposed draft Constitution does not contain the possibility of restoring individual competencies to the national level as a centralisation brake. Instead, it counts on the same one-way street as before, heading towards ever greater centralisation … Most people have a fundamentally positive attitude to European integration. But at the same time, they have an ever increasing feeling that something is going wrong, that an untransparent, complex, intricate, mammoth institution has evolved, divorced from the factual problems and national traditions, grabbing ever greater competencies and areas of power; that the democratic control mechanisms are failing: in brief, that it cannot go on like this.”
– Former German President Roman Herzog and former president of the German Constitutional Court, article on the EU Constitution, Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007

_______

“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go”, and if it’s a No we will say ‘We continue.’”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister and holder of the EU Presidency, Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2005

________
“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.”
– Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21 June 2004
_____
“Are we all clear that we want to build something that can aspire to be a world power? In other words, not just a trading bloc but a political entity. Do we realise that our nation states, taken individually, would find it far more difficult to assert their existence and their identity on the world stage.”
– Commission President Romano Prodi, European Parliament, 13 February 2001

Irish Referendum, Lisbon Treaty Quotes

WHAT TOP EU POLITICIANS SAY ABOUT THE LISBON TREATY/ EU CONSTITUTION
(These quotations are in chronological order backwards)

“France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments… A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.”
– French President Nicolas Sarkozy,at meeting of senior MEPs, EUobserver, 14 November 2007
_______

“The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through the old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, The Independent, London, 30 October 2007
______

‘ “I think it’s a bit upsetting… to see so many countries running away from giving their people an opportunity”, Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said on Sunday 21 October, according to the Irish Independent. ‘If you believe in something …why not let your people have a say in it. I think the Irish people should take the opportunity to show the rest of Europe that they believe in the cause, and perhaps others shouldn’t be so afraid of it,’ he added. “
– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, EU Observer, Brussels, 22 October 2007
______

“They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
– Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, recorded by Open Europe, The Centre for European Reform, London, 12 July 2007
_____

“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire.”
– Commission President J-M Barroso, The Brussels Journal, 11 July 2007
_____

“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.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, Le Monde, 14 June 2007, and Sunday Telegraph, 1 July 2007
____

” The most striklng change ( between the EU Constitution in its older and newer version ) is perhaps that in order to enable some governments to reassure their electorates that the changes will have no constitutional implications, the idea of a new and simpler treaty containing all the provisions governing the Union has now been dropped in favour of a huge series of individual amendments to two existing treaties. Virtual incomprehensibilty has thus replaced simplicity as the key approach to EU reform. As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.”
– Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Irish Taoiseach, Irish Times, 30 June 2007
_____
“The substance of the constitution is preserved.That is a fact.”
– German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speech in the European Parliament, 27 June 2007
_______

The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left.”
– Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, Jyllands-Posten, 25 June 2007
_______

“The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term ‘constitution’ “.
– Dermot Ahern, Irish Foreign Minister, Daily Mail Ireland, 25 June 2007
______
“90 per cent of it is still there…These changes haven’t made any dramatic change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004.”
– Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Independent, 24 June 2007
____

“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.”
– Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007
____

“The good thing about not calling it a Constltution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.”
– Giuliano Amato, speech at London School of Econmics, 21 February 2007

____

“Referendums make the process of approval of European treaties much more complicated and less predictable … I was in favour of a referendum as a prime minister, but it does make our lives with 27 member states in the EU much more difficult. If a referendum had to be held on the creation of the European Community or the introduction of the euro, do you think these would have passed?”
– Commission President Jose M. Barroso, Irish Times, 8 Feb.2007; quoting remarks in Het Financieele Dag and De Volkskrant, Holland; also quoted in EUobserver, 6 February 2007
_____

” It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralisation of powers away from the Member States and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin … Against the fundamental principle of the separation of powers, the essential European legislative functions lie with the members of the executive … The figures stated by the German Ministry of Justice make it quite clear. By far the large majority of legislation valid in Germany is adopted by the German Government in the Council of Ministers, and not by the German Parliament … And so the question arises whether Germany can still be referred to unconditionally as a parliamentary democracy at all, because the separation of powers as a fundamental constituting principle of the constitutional order in Germany has been cancelled out for large sections of the legislation applying to this country … The proposed draft Constitution does not contain the possibility of restoring individual competencies to the national level as a centralisation brake. Instead, it counts on the same one-way street as before, heading towards ever greater centralisation … Most people have a fundamentally positive attitude to European integration. But at the same time, they have an ever increasing feeling that something is going wrong, that an untransparent, complex, intricate, mammoth institution has evolved, divorced from the factual problems and national traditions, grabbing ever greater competencies and areas of power; that the democratic control mechanisms are failing: in brief, that it cannot go on like this.”
– Former German President Roman Herzog and former president of the German Constitutional Court, article on the EU Constitution, Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007

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“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go”, and if it’s a No we will say ‘We continue.'”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister and holder of the EU Presidency, Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2005

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“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.”
– Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21 June 2004
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“Are we all clear that we want to build something that can aspire to be a world power? In other words, not just a trading bloc but a political entity. Do we realise that our nation states, taken individually, would find it far more difficult to assert their existence and their identity on the world stage.”
– Commission President Romano Prodi, European Parliament, 13 February 2001

Lisbon Treaty, Irish Referendum: Short Quotes

“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.”
– Former French President V.Giscard D’Estaing, who helped to draw up the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums and which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty, Le Monde, 14 June 2007
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“France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments … There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.”
– French President Nicolas Sarkozy,at meeting of senior MEPs, EUobserver, 14 November 2007
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“The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through the old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”
– V.Giscard D’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, The Independent, London, 30 October 2007
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“They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
– Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, recorded by Open Europe, The Centre for European Reform, London, 12 July 2007
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“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire.”
Commission President J-M Barroso, The Brussels Journal, 11 July 2007
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“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.
– Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007
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“The good thing about not calling it a Constltution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.
– Giuliano Amato, speech at London School of Econmics, 21 February 2007

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