"OFF THE RECORD!"- what you may have missed!
INFORMATION SUPPLIED TO
"OFF THE RECORD!"
on TREATY of NICE
ENQUIRIES TO ANTHONY COUGHLAN,
SECRETARY, THE NATIONAL PLATFORM,
24, CRAWFORD AVE., DUBLIN 9 (Tel. 830 5792)
NEW! National Platform website:with much more on Europe.www.nationalplatform.org
(Note: the views expressed in this section are those of the contributors, and are not necessarily shared by the Editor of Irish Media Review, though the general tenor is supported)
Saturday 31 March 2001
- A critical briefing from the NP (a major document)
Friday 23 March 2001
Thursday 22 March 2001
- McKenna criticises multiple referendum
Thursday 4 January 2001
- Minister announces referendum
- Bertie Ahern and Anthony Couglan go to Malta
Tuesday 12 December 2000
Monday 11 December 2000
- Reasons for a referendum
- "The EU must not be given control of our human rights" - Anthony Coughlan
Wednesday 15 November 2000
16 November 2000
- Noel Dorr on:
- Garry Collins on bullying of smaller states
- "Abolishing the national veto" (general report)
- "Constitutionalisation" of the treaties
- Bishops criticise certain aspects
- Prodi and the National Veto
- Anthony Coughlan on disadvantages of enlargement - Irish Times letter 17 November.
For your information and with
compliments from The National Platform
(31 March 2001 edition)
A CRITICAL BRIEFING ON THE TREATY OF NICE
CONTENTS OF SECTIONS
1. For a better deal for Europe
2. Why the Government seeks to distract attention from the reality of Nice
3. The structure of the Nice Treaty. . . Some of the good things in it
4. Nice is not "about" EU enlargement
5. Will the EU Applicant States get a fair deal?
6. Problems of EU enlargement: the example of Poland
7. Nice Treaty changes consequent on enlargement
8. Favouring the Big States in enlargement: Nice versus Amsterdam
9. Nice about deepening, dividing and centralising the EU - not widening it
10. A different kind of EU enlargement?ŠThe role of the EU multinationals
11. Dividing the EU into first-class and second-class Members
12. Why Nice requires a constitutional referendum in Ireland
13. Our last referendum on how the EU should develop?
14 Dividing Ireland as well as Europe
15. Setting the stage for an EU Government: majority voting for the EU Commission and its President
16. Abolishing the national veto in 30 new areas
17. Militarizing the EU though the Treaty of Nice
18. No protocol in Nice to protect neutrality and foreign policy independence
19. Preparing to put the EU in charge of our Fundamental Rights
20. Dealing with discrimination
21. "Eurojust" - a new EU institution
22. "Lex Austria": punishing delinquent EU Member States
23. What if Ireland votes No in the Nice referendum?
24. Have we the courage to do what the Danes did last September?
25. Our European house
INFORMATION NOTE ON THIS BRIEFING
This Critical Briefing is provided for your information by The National Platform, Ireland. 24 Crawford Ave.,Dublin 9; Phone 8305792; Web-site <nationalplatform.org>; E-mail:<firstname.lastname@example.org> People are
welcome to use it as they see fit, with or without acknowledgement.
The text of the Briefing has drawn on a number of legal and political
sources, but it has relied extensively on a brilliant study, "The Nice
Treaty Explained", by Jens-Peter Bonde, MEP for the Danish June Movement
and a central figure in the Danish European debate for many years. He
chairs the EDD-group in the European Parliament and has written some 30
books on EU subjects.
Jens-Peter Bonde's analysis of the Nice Treaty has been checked for its
legal accuracy by a member of the legal services department of the EU
Commission. It is available on the internet at <www. Euobserver.com> To
find it one should go to the "search section" on the current page of
Euobserver.com and type in either the name of the author or the title of
the book in the appropriate box; then click the "search" command. Mr
Bonde's text is accompanied by a "reader-friendly" edition of the Treaty
of Nice on the internet. This shows the deletions and additions made to the
existing Treaty texts by the nice Treaty. It is invaluable for people
seeking to understand the legal detail of what the Treaty has decided
1. FOR A BETTER DEAL FOR EUROPE
To keep Europe together and keep Ireland together, people should vote No to
this Treaty. Nice is bad for Europe, bad for Ireland and bad for the EU
Nice is not about enlarging the EU. It is about dividing the EU into
first-class and second-class members. The two-class EU provisions of the
treaty make a fundamental change in the EU. They destroy the EU as a
partnership of legal equals. The Irish Independent editorial on Nice last
December said: "We are dividing Europe into the small nations and the large
ones, and we are preparing the way towards a new division, between the old
nations and the new ones."
"The pillars of the nation state are the sword and the currency, and we
have changed that, " said EU Commission President Romano Prodi. The EU has
got its own currency with the euro. It is on the way to getting its own
army with the 60,000-soldier EU Rapid Reaction Force now being organised.
Now the Big States want to ensure for themselves decisive control of "the
sword and the currency" by guaranteeing their legal dominance over the
Smaller EU Members and by relegating the Applicant States to the second
class carriages of a two-class EU.
This shift of power to the Big States - not facilitating enlargement - is
the political essence of Nice. It will occur if Nice is ratified, even if
not a single new Member joins the EU. That is why all those concerned with
the integrity of the existing EU Treaties, or who subscribe to the idea of
the EU as a juridical partnership of legal equals, will vote No to Nice
for the sake of Europe.
A core elite of large countries will dominate the majority of smaller
countries. It provides a legal path to an EU with its own Government and
Constitution, for an inner group of EU States in the 2004 Treaty
conference provided for in the Treaty. This promises to divide us further
from our fellow-countrymen in the North, on top of the division caused by
our joining the eurozone. It is impossible to imagine the UK ever joining
such a Federation, revolving as it will around a Berlin-Paris axis. If we
do not go along with it, it means we will be faced continually thereafter
by the diktats of an inner-core EU, having to conform to its political and
economic faits-accomplis.. This plan to divide Europe is a clear break
with the EU of its founding-fathers, Monnet, Schuman and DeGasperi.
Ireland is the only EU country whose citizens have a chance to vote on this
Treaty. One brave Irish citizen, Raymond Crotty, stood up for the right of
the Irish people to decide their future in the EU in referendums, We need
to be brave enough to stand up for our fellow Europeans who cannot vote on
the Nice Treaty, and vote for a better future for Europe by voting No.
2. WHY THE GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO DISTRACT ATTENTION FROM THE REALITY OF THE REATY
Firstly, The Government did not want a referendum in the first place. The
Attorney General, Michael McDowell, forced one on it. He pointed out the
fundamental constitutional change to the EU contained in the "first-class
second-class," "two-tier", Europe. Brian Cowen denies that this is at the
core of the Nice Treaty.
Secondly, Nice is being bundled together with three unrelated,
non-contentious referendums. This makes the job of the Referendum
Commission that much harder. Dr Garret FitzGerald drew attention to what
the Government was up to in his Irish Times column on 10 March: "And is
the Government not looking for additional amendments to put to the people
with the Nice Treaty amendment?"
Thirdly, the Foot and Mouth crisis is being dangled as an excuse by the
Government to cause uncertainty about the referendum date. The Government's
own Summary White Paper states (on page 4) that at Nice "the Heads of
State or Government have indicated their intention to ensure that the
ratification process is complete before the end of 2002." That is nearly
two years away. Why the rush to referendum in Ireland? The answer is
simple: pressure to get the only referendum on the Nice Treaty that is
being held in the EU over with.
Lastly, the Government still insists on promoting Nice as the EU
enlargement Treaty. It isn't. This is a Treaty that, if ratified, will
carve up Europe in the interests of a few large states.
3. THE STRUCTURE OF THE TREATY: SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS IN IT
There are 80 pages in the authoritative legal text of the Treaty of Nice
published in the EU Journal Official of 10 March.
2. 8 pages are devoted to enlargement;
3. 5 pages to the first-class second-class EU provisions;
4. 7 pages to abolishing the national veto and replacing it with qualified
majority voting(QMV) in some 30 new policy areas;
5. 20 pages to the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance;
6. 4 pages to the EU Commission;
7. 2 pages to Common Foreign and Security policy - including a handful
of important sentences that have the legal effect of bringing into the
Union Treaties the extraordinarily elaborate structure of
military-bureaucratic institutions set out in a 33-page Annex to the
French Presidency Report at Nice, which is referred to in Declaration 1 of
the Treaty, and is extremely hard to get;
8. the remaining 30 or so pages of the Nice text are taken up by a
miscellany of other matters.
Those who say the Treaty of Nice is about EU enlargement to include the 12
Central, Eastern and Southern European Applicant States, need to tell us
what is in the 72 pages out of 80 that do not refer to them.
There are of good things in the Treaty:
a. It is good that the European Parliament is expanded to take account of
an enlarged Union.
b. The amended Statute of the European Court of Justice and Court of First
Instance, which takes 13 pages of the treaty as against the 8 given to EU
enlargement, should make these bodies more efficient by speeding up EU
court cases,.These currently take on average 2 years.
c. The proposal to hold half of EU summit meetings in Brussels from 2002,
and all of them there when the Union reaches 18 members, would be regarded
by many as a useful step.
4. NICE IS NOT "ABOUT" EU ENLARGEMENT!
The material in the Treaty dealing with enlargement is primarily
Declaration 20 and Protocol A at the end. The Declaration sets out the
"common position" of the existing Member States on their desired allocation
of weighted votes and Euro-parliament seats in an enlarged EU of 27
members. This is merely a statement of political position. it is not
legally binding on the Applicant States. The ratio of votes and seats to
populations which Declaration 20 proposes for the Applicants, contains a
number of anomalies and unfairnesses between the newcomers and the existing
Members. They will almost have to be renegotiated for some of the
Applicants in their Accession treaties - e.g Hungary and the Czech Republic
- if these are to be acceptable to their parliaments and peoples.
No date has yet been set for admitting any Applicant State. As Czech Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus, has said: "EU enlargement is always five years into
the future!" st.
It is not true to suggest, as Brian Cowen does, that the Treaty of Nice is
legally necessary to permit the accession of the 12 Central, Eastern and
Southern European Applicants. The enlargement of the EU to take in Ireland,
Britain and Denmark in 1973 did not require the drawing-up of a special
treaty amongst the existing Six. Neither did the later accession of the
Mediterranean countrries, or the Scandinavians and Austria in 1994. The
details of admission of the Applicant States to the Union will be
negotiated in their individual Accession Treaties. This happened with us
when we joined.
5. WILL THE EU APPLICANT STATES GET A FAIR DEAL?
The EU Applicant States should get a fair deal, which their peoples can
decide on in fair and free referendums. Are they getting anything like the
deal which Ireland got when we joined the original EEC in 1973? The EU has
changed a great deal since then. The Applicant countries have to take on
board the 25,000 or so EU laws, directives and regulations that have been
adopted by the EEC/EC/EU since its foundation in 1957, amounting to some
80,000 pages of legal text, without changing one iota. The only room for
bargaining with regard to this acquis communautaire is about the length of
transition periods for particular areas. All the Applicants countries
have to agree to abolish their national currencies for ever. The Applicant
States have no legal opt-outs from the euro, comparable to what Britain
and Denmark obtained at Maastricht, and which Sweden took by staying
outside the eurozone. In the days when the East European Applicants were
allies or clients of the USSR, the Russians never insisted that they
abolish their national currencies and adopt the rouble. The EU insists
that the Applicant countries must do the equivalent.
The political elites of Eastern Europe aspire to help in "running Europe"
from Brussels, side by side with Big States like Germany and the French.
They see the added advantage that they can blame Brussels henceforth for
their countries' problems. But the ordinary citizens of these countries
tend to become more disillusioned with EU membership as they are kept
waiting, and as they discover the implications of the acquis
communautaire,, especially those aspects of it that are unsuited to their
6. PROBLEMS OF EU ENLARGEMENT: THE EXAMPLE OF POLAND
The really big problem with regard to Eastern Europe is what to do with
Poland's 2 million farmers, as many as in the rest of the EU put together.
Bringing Poland into the EU would require a fundamental change in the
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which Germany wants but France does not.
The Poles in turn are fearful of Germany buying up Polish land. Note that
the biggest gap in average income levels between any two adjacent countries
in the developed world is that between Germany and Poland. Poland has
sought an 18 years transition period before Germans are free to buy Polish
land under EU rules, while the Germany seeks delays to the
free-movement-of-labour rules for Polish workers .
Is it really good for Europe that most of Poland's 2 million farmers are
in effect run off the land for the economic benefit of Germany? There can
be no eastward enlargement unless the Polish farm problem is resolved.
Eastward enlargement will draw a new barbed wire frontier across Europe,
with the enlarged EU on one side of it and Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia
and Moldova on the other. Already the EU is insisting that Poland build
frontier towers all along its border with these countries to prevent mass
migration wastward when this becomes an EU frontier. Existing trade
relations with these countries are already being significantly disrupted.
EU Enlargement does not mean extra trade or new markets for Ireland in
Eastern Europe. We already have free access to these markets. Free trade
generally exists there. It is so free in fact that Estonia, for instance,
is being required to raise tariff barriers to EU levels as a condition of
joining the EU. Irish entrepreneurs already have a significant stake in
countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic etc. Irish firms run a variety
of businesses there, from Irish pubs to Polish banks. Economically EU
enlargement is much more about opening West European markets to Easterners
than the other way round. This is why entry dates are continually being
put off, at the behest of various interest groups in the EU countries.
7. NICE TREATY CHANGES CONSEQUENT ON ENLARGEMENT:-
(a) TREBLING THE VOTES OF THE BIG STATES WHILE DOUBLING THOSE OF THE SMALL ;
(b) ROTATING COMMISSIONERS FOR AN EU OF 27 STATES
There are two substantive changes proposed in the Treaty of Nice arising
from the prospective enlargement of the EU:-
(a) Protocol A(Article 3) changes the voting weights on the EU Council of
Ministers from l January 2005, regardless of whether there are any new EU
members then. The Big States treble their votes and the Small States double
theirs. Germany, France, Britain and Italy go from the 10 votes they have
at present to 29, while Ireland, Denmark and Finland go from 3 to 7, out of
total voting strength of 237. This clearly shifts the voting weight in the
EU towards the Big States. The voting weight of the Big States is added to
also by taking account of population size. This benefits Germany in
particular, whose 86 million people make it the largest EU country. As
Chancellor Schröder said at Nice: "Without us highlighting it, Germany's
weight has grown." These developments led former Fine Gael leader John
Bruton TD to say in the Dáil on 13 December last: "It has been truthfully
stated that one of the outcomes of Nice was to enhance the position of the
bigger states in decision-making. As Reuters put it, 'The main outcome was
to increase the weight of the four big countries, Germany, Britain, France
and Italy.' At a time when the European Union is being enlarged to take in
a lot of small countries, some of which already doubt whether they should
join, what sense does it make to increase the voting strength of the big
countries? Very little."
(b) A rotating Commission for an EU of 27 Members. Acceptance of the
principle that there will come a time when Ireland will have no EU
Commissioner is a fundamental departure from the past position of Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern. This concession led John Bruton to say on the same occasion:
"When I was Taoiseach and President of the Council of the European Union,
I made it clear to all with whom I dealt that I would not accept, in any
circumstances, the removal of Ireland's right to a European Commissioner.
That right has now been conceded by my successor. . . The Commission loss
is a serious blow because the Commission is the originator of all
legislative and other proposals. The Commission alone has the power of
initiative and initiatives, if they are to be taken in a legal area, must
be taken on the basis of a degree of political acceptance. . . It is not
realistic to think that the Germans will accept a Commission proposal in
which there is no German hand. It is not real to think that the Irish
people will accept with the same alacrity a Commission proposal in which
there is no Irish hand. . . by agreeing to a situation in which the
Commission will no longer have some countries represented there, the
Commission has been eviscerated. That is a very bad day for Europe. . ."
And it led Labour leader Ruairi Quinn to say: " It (Nice) was a disaster .
. I am confident that had the Rainbow Coalition been in Government, this
treaty would not have been accepted by us last weekend. It is an appalling
set-back . . . . As a result, not only will Ireland's interests be
damaged, but those of every small State because the concession made by the
Taoiseach and others, which he could have blocked, means that he has
irreparably damaged the role and function of the Commission. . . Therefore,
he has damaged the interest of every other country in the European Union,
big and small... "When history is written about what happened at Nice it
will be said that was the point at which the spirit of the founding fathers
during the Coal and Steel Treaty, the Treaty of Rome and the unique
creation of Schuman, Monnet and De Gasperi, was neutered in a particular
way. . ."
Of course a 27-Member EU is some time off, Until then each country will
keep its Commissioner - as is already provided for in the Enlargement
Protocol of the 1998 Treaty of Amsterdam. That provided for EU being
enlargement according to the same rules as governed Ireland's own
accession to the EEC in 1973 and the later accessions of the Mediterranean
countries, Scandinavia and Austria. .
8. FAVOURING THE BIG STATES IN ENLARGEMENT: NICE versus
The Amsterdam Treaty 1998 allowed the EU to enlarge from 15 countries to
20 without any further amendment to the Treaties. All that would be needed
was a slight adjustment to the weighting of the votes of the five biggest
EU States on the Council of Ministers, in compensation for their agreeing
to give up their second seat on the Commission to the Applicant States.
This is set out in Protocol D of the Treaty of Amsterdam. It is abolished
in the Treaty of Nice. Protocol A of Nice, "On the enlargement of the
European Union," reads: "The protocol on the Institutions with the prospect
of enlargement of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European
Union and the Treaties establishing the European Communities, is hereby
The Enlargement Protocol in Nice abolishes the existing Enlargement
Protocol, from the Treaty of Amsterdam. Instead Nice proposes that
important changes to the Treaties be put into effect, significantly
increasing the power of the Big States, before the EU can be enlarged from
15 to 16 countries.
These changes relate to new vote weighting on the Council of Ministers that
is beneficial to the Big States. The composition of the European Parliament
is also changed. This will happen regardless of whether the EU is enlarged
or not. Whatever happens, the new voting weighting will come into effect on
1 January 2005, even if not a single Applicant State has become an EU
Member by then. By contrast, in the Enlargement Protocol of the Treaty of
Amsterdam, the increased vote weighting is only to come into force after
enlargement, and when the five Big States have handed over their second
Nice removes the chances of easy and balanced EU enlargement provided for
in the Treaty of Amsterdam. Instead the Applicant countries are being given
a political promise of seats in the European Parliament and the other
institutions, and votes in the Council of Ministers. These are set out in
Declaration 20 on Enlargement. This is a political statement of the common
position of the existing Member States and is not legally binding on the
Applicants. Thus Nice removes what is, from the institutional point of
view, easy access to enlargement, which was possible under the provisions
of the Amsterdam Treaty, and replaces it with a political promise of a
number of votes and seats.
In return for the prospect of enlargement, voters in all the EU Member
States will have to accept a large number of changes to the EU rules, which
have no connection with enlargement. On previous occasions when the EU was
enlarged, the existing rules were used to allocate seats and votes. With
Nice there is a shift of power in favour of the Big States - with no
guarantee that the Union will be enlarged!
N.B. Examples of anomalies in the EU's "common position" on proposed
Euro-Parliament seats are: Hungary and Portugal have 10 million people
each. Portugal has 22 MEPs, while Hungary is being offered 20. Belgium and
the Czech Republic have similar populations. Belgium has 22 MEPs, while the
Czechs are being offered 20.
9. NICE IS MORE ABOUT "DEEPENING," DIVIDING AND CENTRALISING THE EU, THAN WIDENING IT
Nice is being presented as a treaty of enlargement, but it will be replaced
by a completely new treaty - or EU Constitution - before this enlargement
takes place. This is the "Year 2004 Treaty", indicated in Declaration 23
on "The Future of the Union." This sets out a process leading to the
settlement, in 2004, of the final status of the Charter of Fundamental
Rights. This is widely seen as part of an EU Constitution, at least for
an inner-core Federation. The "Year 2004 Treaty" or Constitution will also
delimit more precisely the powers of the Union and the Member states,
"simplify the Treaties with a view to making them clearer and better
understood without changing their meaning," and deal with "the role of
national parliaments in the European architecture."
This Constitutional Treaty, Constitution, or whatever it may come to be
called, will be adopted in 2004 before the EU is enlarged by any new
EU Enlargement is in practice no nearer with the Treaty of Nice than it was
after the Treaty of Amsterdam. Since the Berlin wall came down in 1989, we
have had a real chance to unite Europe. But in the Applicant States they
say: "Enlargement is always five years away."
Nice is a treaty for "deepening" and further centralising the EU, under
the hegemony of the Big States, rather than widening it. It does not have
the necessary flexibility for a successful enlargement involving countries
in very different positions and with different levels of economic
development. On the other hand it does include a timetable for much greater
integration. This will make enlargement even more difficult for the
Enlargement negotiations are going on with the Applicant States. But there
are no negotiations about the possibility of their being allowed to retain
one particular law, where the EU has another. The possibility of the EU
changing its rules in favour of a better idea from an Applicant State, or
simply allowing different laws, does not exist.
The purpose of all the so-called "negotiations" with the EU Applicants,
leading up to their respective Accession Treaties, is to establish when
the Applicant countries can adopt EU rules instead of their own. Not a
single permanent exception to or derogation from EU laws and regulations is
being negotiated. The only agreements are for transitional arrangements
establishing when EU laws and regulations are to come into force in the
The more rules the EU bring in, the more transitional arrangements are
needed, and the more difficult enlargement becomes in practice. The core
of the Treaty of Nice is 34 new decisions that can be taken by majority
vote on the Council of Ministers, on which countries can be voted down.
There were 11l already, plus 65 decisions requiring unanimity. Nice will
lead to more EU laws and rules on top of the 25,000 or so which the EU has
already sent to the Applicant States for adoption.
The real constitutional innovation of the Treaty of Nice is "enhanced
cooperation." These are the first-class second-class, two-tier EU
provisions, under which some countries will push ahead and form a club
within a club, with a further set of rules. When the Applicant countries
comply with the rules of the EU club, they will be allowed to join the
club. Meanwhile some other members are engaged in forming a whole new club
without their participation!
Looked at objectively, the Treaty of Nice makes it harder, not easier, to
join the EU. Nice may also be regarded as the price that has to be paid to
the Big States by the Small ones and the Applicants as the price that has
to be paid for enlargement.
10. A DIFFERENT KIND OF EU ENLARGEMENT?. . . THE ROLE OF THE EU MULTINATIONALS
Most East European countries have made huge efforts in order to join the
EU. They have cut down public expenditure and introduced a primitive market
economy without our kind of social provision for the many people who have
been given the sack.
They are still not getting what they see as the prize: promotion to the
Euroleague, becoming members of the promised EU, which they read nothing
but good about in the newspapers - which are now owned mainly by EU media
companies. It is not easy to unite countries at such different levels of
development in a common, standardised market. It requires all problems to
be put on the table and solved, before enlargement occurs. Or else it
demands a different type of enlargement negotiations from those now
underway, which have only one aim: all new EU members must have the same
laws as us.
Why must they? It is not something ordinary East Europeans have asked for.
It is not something West Europeans have asked for or demonstrated for. The
enlargement strategy is, in the main, devised by the think-tanks of the
EU's Multinational Companies, and has won support among officials and
Ministers in Brussels.
The important lobbying organisation ERT, the European Round Table of
Industrialists, composed the first EU draft enlargement plans. ERT also
drew up the first plans for the Single European Market, the Transeuropean
Net, the Maastricht Treaty and the Monetary Union.
Companies with international operations also see Eastern and Central Europe
as a cheap well-educated workforce of 150 million people and a gigantic
market for their sales. It is understandable that businesses should look
after their own interests, but politics and business interests are not the
same thing. The art of politics is to make it a tool for people, for the
EU enlargement should therefore be planned in a way that puts people before
the market; makes the market the servant instead of the master; and allows
sufficient time for the inevitable readjustments, so that it will be easier
to understand for the people living in those countries and not just for
those investing in them.
EU enlargement should also be planned within the EU countries, so that
those who lose their jobs to cheaper labour from the East are given a
chance to find other jobs and do not react by becoming xenophobic.
Western Europe must be willing to pay, if we wish to unite our continent.
Countries inside the EU are not queuing up to pay higher contributions.
Rich countries like Germany, Austria, Holland and Sweden have just demanded
a reduction in their contributions, so that they do not have to pay the
full cost of EU enlargement.
The reunification of East Germany with West Germany happened at a stroke.
Thousands of companies in the East were closed down. The West Germans were
prepared to give financial support and exchange East German marks at a huge
premium. West Germany is still paying tens of billions of D-marks each
year in subsidies to East Germany. In fact more is given to 18 million East
Germans annually than is given by the EU to over 100 million East Europeans
in pre-accession assistance .
That tells us something about the real difficulties of Eastward EU
enlargement. In the Treaty of Nice we pretend we are on the way to
admitting all 12 EU Applicant countries. If that happens on the current
terms, it will be a catastrophe. If it does not happen, it will give rise
to bitter disappointment. Different methods and aims are needed, if EU
enlargement is really to unite Europe rather than creating discord.
Applicant States should not have to adopt the whole of EU legislation, as
well as agreeing to abolish their national currencies. It should be
possible for them to make do with the minimum of rules necessary for a
common market. Does a Central or East European company which only supplies
goods to a local market, really have to conform to all EU standards? Could
the EU not allow the Applicant States to decide more for themselves in
their own countries and only make EU legislation apply to those companies
that export goods to the EU?
Must an East European town, which only has one major factory, be forced to
have it closed down because it is kept going by a subsidy which contravenes
EU competition rules? Could the EU not allow much longer transition
regulations than those normally applied to new EU members? We could start
by opening our markets to products from all the Applicant States, as long
as they meet our health and environmental standards. A realistic
enlargement strategy should include 10, 15 and 20-year transitional periods
for particular areas in which the Applicant States will have difficulty
competing with our industries.
The EU could also grant the Applicant States long-term exceptions in areas
where the strict necessity for uniform rules cannot be documented. Uniform
rules are advantageous for international companjes, but this simply is not
sufficient argument if the price of conversion is mass shut-downs for
thousands of small and medium-sized Central and East European companies
and the sacking of their workers.
Irish people with a conscience, who are concerned about really uniting our
continent, should adopt a more critical attitude to the EU's harsh
inflexibility vis-à-vis the Applicant States, and call for a different kind
11. DIVIDING THE EU INTO FIRST-CLASS AND SECOND-CLASS MEMBERS. . .THE FUNDAMENTAL BREAK WITH THE EUROPEAN IDEAL
What Germany and France most wanted politically from the Treaty of Nice was
the opening of a legal path to a first-class and second-class EU. This is
made possible by Articles 1.6, 1.9-1.14 and Article 2.1 of the Treaty.
They amount to some one-tenth of its total text. These rules are the most
important part of the Treaty of Nice, together with the possibility of
appointing the whole Commission by majority vote, opening the way to a
For the first time in the EU Treaties the Treaty of Nice would permit an
upper-tier or avant--garde led by a few Big States t0 set up a Federation
with its own Constitution, Government, President and Prime Minister if they
want to. The way would be open to them to hijack the EU institutions - the
Commission, Council, Court and Parliament for that purpose, using them, as
German Fischer Joschka Fischer proposed, to"speak with one voice" to the
rest - without having to get the agreement of all the others.
"Enhanced cooperation," the two-class EU provision, originally formed part
of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Its opponents ensured that it could only
happen if all the countries agreed. There was to be unanimity for the
implementation of enhanced cooperation. The provision was never used. The
de facto enhanced cooperation of the Schengen countries on a passport-free
area, and of the eurozone members on the EU single currency, took place
with the unanimous agreement of all 15 EU members.
With the Treaty of Nice closer cooperation by an inner group can be
adopted even if some countries vote against it. Eight countries could force
through a club within a club, even if the seven smallest countries voted
Nice makes this possible by abolishing the unanimity requirement for any
such development that was laid down in the Amsterdam Treaty. It replaces it
with qualified majority voting. A first-class second-class member EU is not
in the interests of the smaller EU countries, or of the Applicant States.
If the Nice Treaty is ratified it opens a path in EU law towards the single
EU Government, revolving around the Berlin-Paris axis, which German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer called for in his famous Berlin speech last
summer, when he said:
"The last step will then be the completion of integration in a European
Federation. . . such a group of States would conclude a new European
framework treaty, the nucleus of a constitution of the Federation. On the
basis of this treaty, the Federation would develop its own institutions,
establish a GOVERNMENT WHICH, WITHIN THE EU, WOULD SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE . .
a strong parliament and a directly elected president. Such a driving force
would have to be the avant-garde, the driving force for the completion of
political integration. . . This latest stage of European Union will depend
decisively on France and Germany." (emphasis added)
Germany's Chancellor Schröder and France's President Chirac have regularly
echoed this theme of an EU Federation since. It is what Germany insisted on
laying down a clear path towards at Nice when she insisted in having
Declaration 23, "On the Future of the Union" added to the Treaty. This
division of the EU, whereby the club divides into two, was what former
Commission President Jacques Delors was referring to when he said last
June: "We will have to create an avant-garde . . .We could have a Union
for the enlarged Europe, and a Federation for the avant-garde
Up to now the EU has been formally and legally a partnership of equals,
even if some States are bigger, richer and more powerful than others. This
equality was enshrined in the principle that no major
constitutional-legal-political departure could take place without everyone
being in agreement.
The EU has up to now been like a convoy moving at the speed of its slowest
ship. The Treaty of Nice breaks the EU "convoy" into two parts for the
first time, by permitting the original founding group of Six, plus a couple
of others, to move ahead of all the rest. It ensures that if and when the
low income East Europeans join the EU, they will find it divided into two
groups. One will be an outer- circle, second-rank membership to which they
and half of the existing EU members will be relegated. The other will be an
inner-circle, first-class membership, with Germany at its centre, and
France anxiously holding to its coattails. The key decisions will be
taken by the inner-group Federation, which will inevitably present the
rest with continual political and economic faits-accomplis.
This provision also moves the goal-posts for the Applicant countries. A
new inner EU club is being organised inside the EU club they want to join.
This is the real political response of Germany and France to EU enlargement.
The original EEC Six, plus a couple of others, are the countries that in
practice are most likely to adopt an EU Constitution, quasi-Government and
President that would, in Joschka Fischer's phrase, "speak with one voice"
to the others, The Nice Treaty provides that there must be a minimum of
The Treaty lays down conditions for enhanced cooperation.it must
i) further the objectives of the Union and Community;
ii) respect the acquis communautaire;
iii) not undermine the internal market or economic or social cohesion;
iv) be open to all Member States at any time;
v) be undertaken only as a last resort etc.
Who will decide whether these conditions are satisfied or not?
According to the voting rules enhanced cooperation in all areas can be
decided by a qualified majority in the Council of Ministers, that is:
a. 62 out of 87 votes at present;
b. 169 out of 237 votes from 2005;
c. 258 out of 345 in an EU with 27 countries.
A, In an enlarged EU, the 13 smallest countries can be voted down by the 14
B. The 14 largest countries can also introduce enhanced cooperation between
themselves, with which the smaller countries are not happy.
C. Conversely, three large countries including Germany can prevent
enhanced cooperation which might be desired by 24 other member States.
The qualified majority decides what is possible. The blocking minority can
prevent the decision. .If the opponents do not have a blocking minority of
26 out of 87 votes, and the corresponding number after 2005, the enhanced
cooperation could be established.
If Germany and France wish to form a Federation, that is, a State, they are
entitled to do so, if their own peoples give their free consent. But they
have no right to hijack the existing EU institutions for that purpose - the
Commission, Council, Court and Parliament - which up to now have existed to
serve a community of fifteen legally equal partners.
12. WHY NICE REQUIRES A CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM IN IRELAND
"Enhanced cooperation," the provisions which divide the EU into two, is the
main reason why Attorney General Michael McDowell told the Government that
it must have get the permission of the people if it wants to ratify the
Treaty of Nice. Under article 6 of the Constitution sovereignty rests with
the people and all lawful authority stems from them. Any surrender to
Brussels of sovereignty - that is, of law-making, executive or judicial
power - can only be made by the people themselves voting in a referendum.
Raymond Crotty established this basic democratic principle in his famous
1987 Supreme Court case on the Single European Act. If a new EU Treaty
comes along that entails further surrender of sovereignty, or that
significantly changes the EEC that we joined in 1973, or the EC/EU as it
has developed since under the SEA, Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties, the
permission of the Irish people must again be asked to amend Article 29 of
the Constitution. The Treaty of Nice radically changes the EU, in
particular its proposals for dividing the EU into two.
The Government memo on why a referendum on Nice is constitutionally
necessary says that there are four key reasons:
"1. because of the changes made to the general conditions under which
enhanced co-operation may be used, and their effect on the options and
discretions clause in Article 29.4.6.
"2. because of the introduction of enhanced co-operation into the Second
Pillar (i.e. the common foreign and security policy) for the first time
and its effect on the options and discretions clause in Article 29.4.6.
"3. because there has been a move to qualified majority vote(QMV) in
approximately thirty different of the Treaty. These changes arguably go
beyond the current license permitting Ireland to accept such changes as
provided for under Article 29 of the Constitution and as elaborated in the
jurisprudence of the Supreme Court.
"4. because of the need for legal certainty on matters of such importance
to the State as the Treaties establishing the Community and the Union."
Nice's provisions for a first and second class EU make a fundamental change
in the Community/Union that we joined in 1973 and that has existed since.
By opposing this division of the EU "club" into two parts, opponents of the
Nice Treaty will be championing the original concept of the EC/EU as a
partnership of equals. They are acting responsibly as good Europeans in
doing so. The supporters of the Treaty of Nice, the people who seek to
permit the Big States effectively to hijack the EU and its institutions for
their own purposes, and to split the EU into two, are the bad Europeans on
this occasion, the subverters of the better, more idealistic impulses of
the European project. As responsible Europeans Irish citizens should vote
13. OUR LAST REFERENDUM ON HOW THE UNION SHOULD DEVELOP?
If we ratify the Nice Treaty without these enhanced cooperation rules being
restored to what they were in Amsterdam, this is likely to be Ireland's
last referendum on how the EU should develop. For if in future we should
want to say "No' to some special arrangement being devised to suit an
inner-core group of Member States, for example because it has been rejected
in a referendum here, the countries that want it can simply go ahead on
their own and use the Union's institutions for a purpose that Irish voters
may have expressly rejected. With theprovisions on enhanced cooperation,
troublesome countries like Denmark, Sweden and Britain can be sidelined.
The inner-core of EU States need no longer give consideration to countries
in which plans to extend cooperation may have to get past the electorate
in a referendum.
If a country is dissatisfied with a decision on enhanced cooperation, it
can ask for the proposal to be discussed at a subsequent European summit.
But the proposal can be adopted at or after the summit by a qualified
majority, thus deciding whether the general conditions have been fulfilled.
The right of national veto is thus suspended.
Enhanced cooperation in the first, supranational, area of the
Treaties(Pillar 1), in the inter-governmental areas of Foreign and Security
Policy (Pillar 2), and in the judicial and home affairs area(Pillar 3), is
all about extending European integration for those who are willing and
able. There is no mention of the fact that a number of countries can avoid
bringing in certain EU legislation. Quite the contrary. Enhanced
cooperation is a kind of driving force, which is supposed to carry the
slower countries along with it.
Enhanced co-operation as provided for in Nice should not therefore be
confused with "flexibility," which also figures in the European debate.
That would allow countries to repatriate powers from the Union back to
the national level, rather than surrender them to the EU all the time.
Rather, the transfer of power is to remain entirely in one direction. The
way is not being opened for "variable geometry," only for variable speed.
There is no formal mention of abolishing the right of all Member States to
veto amendments to the Union Treaties, but the effect looks like being the
In practice, the two-class EU provisions of Nice will make it possible to
extend co-operation without amending the Treaties and without regard for
those who, for one reason or another, are against it - or cannot get their
populations to consent to participating in further integration. In this way
construction of the Union can continue, even though it may have been
rejected by the voters in a number of countries that do not have a blocking
minority. The qualified majority decides.
Abolishing the national veto on "enhanced cooperation" means that Member
States that might wish to repatriate policy areas such as control of
fishing waters, social policy or agriculture from the supranational level
back to the national level in the name of "subsidiarity", give up their
main practical means of achieving this. The only realistic way that they
could do it, would be to use the veto as a bargaining chip, to say in
effect that they would allow the more integrationist members to go ahead
only if, in return, the latter allowed them to take a few steps back.
Horrified by this prospect, uncritically minded EU federalists can now
welcome "enhanced cooperation" as a way to prevent this happening. Once the
Nice Treaty is ratified, individual EU States will in practice have lost
all chance of repatriating powers from Brussels/Strasbourg back to the
national State level while remaining members of the EU.
14. DIVIDING IRELAND AS WELL AS EUROPE
The Nice Treaty's departure from the concept of the EU/EC as a juridical
partnership of legal equals is a shift from egalitarian to inegalitarian
federalism. The partnership of equals concept is embodied in the principle
that no fundamental new departure or change would be made without everyone
agreeing,. The change is being pushed by Germany above all. It bodes most
ominously for smaller Member States like Ireland. And it is likely to put
us in a most difficult position in 2004, when the Constitution of this
avant-garde group of federalising States will most likely be drawn up.
If Ireland ratifies the Treaty of Nice by voting Yes and we do not insist
on its re-negotiation of this fundamental point, we are likely to find
ourselves in a very invidious position in 2004. For we shall then very
probably be faced with the option of joining Germany and France and an
inner-core EU in a Federation or quasi-Federation - in practice probably
the original EEC Six plus a couple of others.
Germany and France will want such a Federation to be run on the basis of
population weight rather than equality, as their peoples would
understandably insist. That would give us little real say within it. What
would be left of Ireland's vestigial independence inside such a
Federation? Can we imagine the federation not harmonizing taxes for
instance? Above all, we would then find ourselves cut off indefinitely
from the prospect of any political coming-together with our
fellow-countrymen and women in the North down the road. For whatever about
the UK overcoming its reluctance to abolish sterling and join the euro, it
is hard to see Britain agreeing to join a federalising inner-core EU
revolving around the Berlin-Parios axis.
Alternatively, in 2004 we would have the the choice of remaining outside
such a Federation, which would speak " with one voice:" to the rest of the
Union. That mesns we confronted thereafter by the continual political and
economic faits-accomplis which it would be able to push on everyone else,
using the EU institutional machinery.
The sensible thing is to avoid that dire dilemma now, by rejecting the
two-class EU that is provided for in Nice, for our own sakes and for the
sake of the EU too.
15. SETTING THE STAGE FOR AN EU GOVERNMENT: MAJORITY VOTING FOR THE EU COMMISSION AND ITS PRESIDENT
Introducing majority voting for appointing the President of the Commission
and his Commissioners is probably the most important change in the Treaty
of Nice, apart from the two-class Europe provisions. For it sets the stage
for an EU Government for the inner-core Federation envisaged as emerging
from the Year 2004 Treaty/Constitution.
Articles 2.22-2.24 of Nice amend Articles 214-217 of the Community Treaty
to alter fundamentally the political character of the EU Commission. All
countries will continue to have one Commissioner until the EU is enlarged
to 27 countries. But Nice makes important changes to the way the Commission
All previous Commission Presidents have been appointed by unanimous
decision between all the Member States. Some years ago John Major's
British Government vetoed a proposal to appoint the former Belgian Prime
Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene as President on the grounds that he was too
strong and too federalist. It was agreed instead to appoint the Luxembourg
Prime Minister Jacques Santer.
Under the Treaty of Nice the Commission President must first be nominated
by qualified majority vote between the Heads of State and Government. After
that he must be approved by a majority in the European Parliament. When the
President has been chosen, it is the turn of the Commissioners.
Countries recommend, say, three candidates to the President, who will
discuss them with the Prime Minister who makes the recommendation. Under
Nice, the President elect is no longer obliged to accept a Prime Minister's
preferred candidate. The list of Commissioners is to be drawn up by common
consent between the newly elected President of the Commission and a
qualified majority in the Council. The Parliament must then approve the
entire body by majority decision. After this, the Commission is appointed
by the Council by qualified majority.
This means that in an EU of 27 countries it will, in theory, be possible
for the 13 smallest countries to have their own candidates rejected by a
qualified majority of the 14 biggest countries. The use of majority voting
in appointing the President is likely to lead in practice to the
appointment of a convinced Federalist who will be especially congenial to
Germany and France. He will then be able to use his new bargaining
position vis-a-vis national Prime Ministers and Presidents to have
candidates congenial to him nominated as Commissioners rather than the
candidate who is the preferred choice of the national leader.
This new appointment procedure sows the seeds for an office of European
President or Prime Minister. Article 217 gives the designated Commission
President the right to make his own decisions on how the Commission is
organised. The President structures and allocates the areas of
responsibility. During his term of office he can alter the duties and
allocation of responsibilities, just as the Irish Taoiseach can personally
reshuffle his ministerial list. The Commission President also decides who
are to be the Vice-Presidents, and he is given the formal right to sack his
fellow Commissioners, although the dismissal of Commissioners and the
appointment of Vice-Presidents must be approved by a simple majority of the
The stage is thereby set for a European Government made up of people who
can work in cooperation with the Commission President, rather than a body
in which each Commissioner in effect represents his country.
Vice-Presidents are to work in charge of major areas such as foreign,
security and defence, monetary union and other financial matters, judicial
policy, etc. This is likely to clear the way in time for a strong
European Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Minister for Justice etc.
These majority voting provisions of the Treaty of Nice will fundamentally
alter the political dynamics of the Commission. The move to majority voting
in appointing Commissioners only emerged in public on the last day of the
Nice summit. Most commentators have so far left its long-term implications
go virtually unnoticed. This contrasts with the attention that has been
paid to the rotating Commission for an EU of 27 States
16. ABOLISHING THE NATIONAL VETO IN 30 NEW AREAS
The Treaty of Nice proposes the abolition of the national veto in some 30
policy areas, some of them quite significant for Ireland. Some of the more
important areas are listed here.
They include the rules of the EU Structural Funds, after 2007, which
Ireland has always considered an important national interest; actions for
economic and social cohesion outside the Structural Funds; the funding of
EU-wide political parties; implementation of agreed foreign policy joint
actions and common positions; international agreements on trade in
services, investments and intellectual property; industrial policy and
state aids to industry; the appointment of the Foreign Policy supremo;
external representation of EMU; the rapid introduction of the euro; the
EU Budget; implementing rules on visas, asylum, refugees, illegal
immigration and measures of co-operation in justice and home affairs; the
rules of the European Court of Justice; emergency financial assistance to
Member States in economic crisis; decisions on "social exclusion" and the
"modernisation of social security systems."
Abolishing the national veto and moving over to qualified majority
voting(QMV) means more Brussels rule in all these areas. The national
Parliaments of the Member States will lose their legislative powers to EU
civil servants and Ministers. So the treaty of Nice means less democracy,
in the same way as the Maastricht Treaty and the Treaty of Amsterdam. It
means that even if a Member State is opposed to some EU measure, and its
people, Parliament, Government and Minister on the EU Council are against
it, and vote against it, it can still become law against their will and be
binding on them.
The implications of moving from unanimity to majority voting in some of
these areas will be outlined in a later edition of this Critical Briefing
17. MILITARIZING THE EU THROUGH THE TREATY OF NICE
There are three main provisions in the Treaty of Nice that relate to the
militarization of the EU, and two ancillary foreign policy provision, as
(a) THE EU ITSELF TAKES OVER FROM THE WEU: Article J4 of the Amsterdam
Treaty 1998 provided that the Western European Union(WEU) was 'an integral
part of the development of the Union providing the Union with access to an
operational capacity.' Article 1.2 of the Treaty of Nice sweeps all
reference to the WEU aside, so that the EU itself can directly take on a
military function. Removing the sections on the Western Europan Union
automatically ensures that defence is integrated within the EU, without any
new sections having to be adopted on the matter. This is to be done through
its own army, the 60,000-soldier 'Rapid Reaction Force' already agreed, and
the elaborate supporting military-bureaucratic structures which are set out
in Annexes 1-7 of the Presidency Report on European Security and Defence
Policy. This is referred to in Declaration No.1 of the Treaty of Nice. The
WEU itself fades into the background. Its mutual defence commitment and a
small secretariat are now all that are now left of Western European Union.
Its satellite centre, staff and equipment are being transferred to the EU.
The Rapid Reaction Force is to be capable of operating up to 4000 kms. From
Brussels, in Africa, the Middle East and areas close to Russia. When fully
established it can function independently of NATO, the OSCE and the United
(b) POLITICAL CONTROL OF MILITARY OPERATIONS THROUGH A NEW EU BODY, "THE
POLITICAL AND SECURITY COMMITTEE,"
.A 'Political Committee' already exists, to monitor the international
situation in the areas covered by the EU's common foreign and security
policy. Now Article 1.5 of Nice amends Article 25 of the Treaty on European
Union to change its name to the "Political and Security Committee." It
takesd on military tasks under the responsibility of the Council of
Ministers, expressed as follows: "To exercise, under the responsibility of
the Council, political control and strategic direction of crisis management
operations. The Council may authorise the Committee, for the purpose and
for the duration of a crisis management operation, as determined by the
Council, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control
and strategic direction of the operationŠ"
In plain language, this means that the new Committee may be given the task
of directing military intervention during a crisis. In other words the
Committee can wage war, even though the intention may still be to bring
about peace. This is referred to as "peacemaking" in the Treaty.
Annex 3 to the French Presidency Report to the Nice Council gives two pages
of detail on the Political and Security Committee. Among its functions set
out there, it will 'send guidelines to the Military Committee; receive the
opinions and recommendations of the Military Committee. The Chairman of the
Military Committee(EUMC), who liaises with the European Union Military
Staff(EUMC), takes part, where necessary, in PSC meetings.' The Military
Committee is in turn defined, in Annex 4, as 'the highest military body
established within the Council.' This Article 1.5 of the Treaty of Nice
is the principal legal bridge to the EU military structures that were
established following the Helsinki Council summit in 1999. These are set
out in detail in the seven Annexes to the Nice Presidency Report, and are
now given an explicit legal base in the European Union Treaties by the
Treaty of Nice.
Decisions authorising specific military interventions will continue to be
taken unanimously. No special "enhanced cooperation" under EU auspices
between some Member States in the defence and mjlitary area can be launched
unless all countries give their consent.
Both the Nice and Amsterdam Treaties make provision for defence to be
extended at a new Intergovernmental Conference by a subsequent Treaty
amendment. This is a "promissory clause." France is said to be aiming to
secure the adoption of a Treaty amendment which would bring the mutual
defence guarantee of the WEU into the EU Treaties at the Laeken/Brussels
summit in December 2001. Such an amendment could take the form of an EU
Treaty Protocol, which the Member States could then sign at their own
If the Treaty of Nice is ratified, this has the constitutional effect of
making the Political and Security Committee(PSC), and its related military
structures and the policy they embody, part of the Irish Constitution under
Article 29 thereof.
Note that nowhere in the Treaty of Nice is there any provision for, or
reference to, parliamentary control of EU military policy, whether at
national or Euro-parliament level.
c) SPEEDY IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY BECOMES ONE OF THE OBJECTIVES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.
The Nice Treaty's Declaration No.1 on the European Security and Defence Policy provides: 'In accordance with the texts approved by the European Council in Nice
concerning the European security and defence policy (Presidency report and
Annexes), the objective for the European Union is for that policy to become
operational quickly. A decision to that end will be taken by the European
Council as soon as possible in 2001 and no later than at its meeting in
Laeken/Brussels, on the basis of the existing provisions of the Treaty on
European Union. Consequently, the entry into force of the Treaty of Nice
does not constitute a precondition.'
The first sentence of this Declaration is a further bridge between the
Treaty of Nice and the elaborate military-bureaucratic structures
surrounding the Rapid Reaction Force that is currently being established.
Details of these structures are contained in the 33 pages of the French
"Presidency Report on European Security and Defence Policy" that was
presented to at the Nice European Council, and its seven Annexes. The
latter are not formally included in the Nice Treaty, but legally they are
effectively made part of it by Article 1.5 mentioned. This is strengthened
further by the unanimous Declaration that the military-bureaucratic
apparatus and the policy it implements constitute an "objective" of the
Union, and that the objective is that the policy should become 'operational
Declaring that the rapid implementation of the policy embodied in these
military-bureacuratic structures is one of the objectives of the Union is
legally and politically important. EU law interprets treaties and the legal
obligations they give rise to in terms of objectives - this being the
tradition of continental law, rather than the Anglo-Saxon tradition which
interprets the legality of treaty provisions in terms of what the actual
words of the text explicitly say. However, the second sentence of the
Declaration provides that the Rapid Reaction Force and its
military-bureaucratic structures continue to be developed on the basis of
the Maastricht Treaty on European Union, even if the Treaty of Nice is not
ratified. The Maastricht Treaty did not declare the Union's speedy
militarization to be a Union objective, whereas the Treaty of Nice does.
The seven Annexes to the Presidency Report at Nice containing this
military detail are hard to get. These deal with such military/political
(a) 'The development of military capabilities';
(b) 'The establishment of permanent political and military structures';
(c) 'Permanent arrangements for EU-NATO consultation and cooperation';
(d) 'Inclusion in the EU of the appropriate functions of the WEU';
(e) 'A declaration on military capabilities commitment';
(f) 'Capabilities for civilian aspects of crisis management';
(g) The Political and Security Committee(PSC);
(h) The European Union Military Staff Organisation(EUMS);
(i) The European Union Military Committee(EUMC).
Two ancillary foreign policy provisions are the following:-
a)MAJORITY VOTING REPLACES UNANIMITY FOR IMPLEMENTING JOINT ACTIONS AND COMMON POSITIONS WITH THIRD COUNTRIES OR INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS IN RELATION TO COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY. This is provided for in
Article 1.4 of Nice, which amends Article 24 of the Consolidated EU
Treaties. This provision could, for example, influence the ability of
national States to veto EU positions in relation to the UN and NATO. It
could open the way for an EU innner-core Federation
b) ENHANCED COOPERATION BETWEEN A SUB-GROUP OF EU MEMBER STATES AS REGARDS THE COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY, IS PERMITTED BY ARTICLE 1.6 OF THE
NICE TREATY, SO LONG AS IT DOES NOT RELATE TO "MATTERS HAVING MILITARY OR DEFENCE IMPLICATIONS."
All Members of the Union are already committed to
the latter. Such special arrangements, for which the unanimity requirement
stipulated in the Treaty of Amsterdam is abolished by the Treaty of Nice,
may be undertaken by a sub-group of Members of the Union, so long as they
are aimed at 'asserting its identity as a coherent force on the
international scene' This provision could, for example, be used to permit
an inner-core Federation to adopt common positions on the UN Security
Council, as long as these did not have military implications.
18. NO PROTOCOL IN NICE TO PROTECT NEUTRALITY AND FOREIGN POLICY INDEPENDENCE,
What Ireland really needs to protect its independence in the defence-
foreign policy area is a special Protocol comparable to that which Denmark
negotiated at Maastricht, and which The Peace and neutrality
Alliance(PANA), AfRI and others urged Ireland's negotiators to insist on
for the Nice Treaty. But they did not. Such a Protocol, which the other
EU Member States could easily have accommodated, would have given us full
legal entitlement to opt out of EU foreign policy, security and military
involvements,. It would have underpinned a meaningful neutrality vis-a-vis
military alliances. Instead the Nice summit conclusions contain detailed
plans for the 60,000-man Rapid Reaction Force, which is anything but a Red
Cross operation, to which the Government is committing Irish soldiers and
19. PREPARING TO PUT THE EU IN CHARGE OF OUR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
It is a democratic scandal that a group of politicians at Nice should
presume to foist on the 300 million people of the EU a so-called "Charter
of Fundamental Rights" that has not been considered or discussed in any
national parliament or the European Parliament.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was adopted politically at Nice by the
Prime Ministers and Presidents. Some EU Members resisted putting it into
the Treaties at this stage. But Declaration 23 of the Treaty of Nice on the
future of the Union gives a clear signal that it is likely to become EU
law, at least for an inner-core Federation of Member States, in the
proposed Year 2004 Treaty/ Constitution. The Declaration says that the
status of the Charter will be decided then. As Germany's Chancellor
Schröder has remarked: "There is good reason to accept this text as the
basis for an eventual European Constitution."
The Fundamental Rights Charter is a mixture of human rights that are
already fully guaranteed by existing national Constitutions, as well as by
the Convention and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and a mish-mash of
rights arising from positive law that are mostly already established under
the existing EU treaties. The real object of the Charter is to provide a
basis for the extension of EU law into the most intimate areas of our lives
- for human rights arise everywhere - by making human rights justiciable
before the EU Court of Justice. The difference between an incorporation of
the Charter now compared to later is not real. There will be no new content
Human rights cover virtually every field of human life, for example the
right to free assembly and activity, to property, religious practice,
family life, marriage, children, inheritance, drugs etc. While there is
widespread consensus as to what constitutes people's core human rights,
there is no agreement in some highly sensitive areas. For example everyone
agrees that people have a right to life. But when does life begin, when
does it end? People disagree fiercely over abortion and euthanasia, which
relate to the beginning and the end of life. There are significant
differences in national positions. Should ultimate decision on such
matters for 300 million Europeans lie with the EU Court of Justice in
The Charter of Fundamental Rights has more to do with power than with
rights. The only reason for seeking to give the EU a human rights
competence is the desire to build up the Union further as a centralised
quasi-Superstate, now that it has acquired its own currency in the euro,
and will have its own army from 2003. This is because the historical
experience of both national and multi-national federations has been that
common human rights standards, enforced by a central legislative body and a
federal Supreme Court, can be a powerful weapon in subordinating national
and local Courts and Constitutions to central rule. The Charter does not
strengthen the human rights or human rights protections of European
citizens one whit. Rather it diminishes them by seeking to make the EU and
its Court of Justice supreme over national Constitutions and Higher Courts
in relation to a vast area of human life and society, supreme too over the
Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which interprets the European
Convention on Human Rights.
The limitations of the Fundamental Rights Charter are shown by the fact the
rights it sets out are not so fundamental after all. For example Article 52
says that they may be limited in the interest of the objectives of the EU.
And while the Charter asserts a right to marry and found a family, it says
nothing about a right to legal separation, although such a right has been
recognised in the laws of the all EU Member States for over a century. And
it does not mention divorce.
If the EU is genuinely concerned about strengthening human rights, why does
it not sign up to the European Convention and Court of Human Rights? But
that would subordinate it to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and
would defeat the political purpose of the Charter.
20. DEALING WITH DISCRIMINATION
(to be included in a later edition of this Critical Briefing)
21. "EUROJUST" - A NEW EU INSTITUTION
(to be included in a later edition of this Critical Briefing)
22. "LEX AUSTRIA": PUNISHING DELINQUENT EU STATES
(to be included in a later edition of this Critical Briefing)
23. WHAT IF IRELAND VOTES NO IN THE NICE REFERENDUM?
The Nice Treaty has generated hostility all over the EU. It has been
criticised by Commission President Prodi and the bulk of the European
Parliament for not going far enough, and by others for going too far.
Everywhere there is resentment at the way Germany and France are attempting
through this Treaty to hijack the EU for their own purposes. There would be
cheers from all across the EU, including some from unexpected quarters, if
the Irish people vote No to Nice in the 31 May referendum.
If the Irish vote No the EU Member Governments will have to go back to the
drawing board and come up with something better - something that does not
require them to stay awake for three successive nights until 4 a.m. to
cobble together a very unsatisfactory treaty! They will have to
re-negotiate a better Treaty for Europe. No other Member State has ratified
the Treaty yet. The Heads of Government have agreed there is until December
2002 to ratify it. Voting No to Nice does not mean that we leave the EU or
the eurozone. It just means that the Treaty does not come into force. It
will have to be renegotiated and become the Treaty of Gothenburg or
Laeken/Brussels instead. The EU will continue as it is now, with its
current institutions and treaties fully in existence, and our rights and
obligations under them. There is no way we can be expelled from the EU for
voting No, although the Yes-side people may well threaten this.
24. HAVE WE THE COURAGE TO DO WHAT THE DANES DID LAST SEPTEMBER?
In the Nice referendum we should do what the Danes did when they said No to
the euro last September, rejecting thereby the threats and promises of
their Government and many of their elite groups. The Danes said No and are
still full members of the EU. They were threatened with dire penalties if
they voted No in that referendum, but in fact things have gone on much as
before. But the Danes exercised their freedom of rejecting something they
did not like, and which they decided did not suit them.
Will the Irish emulate the courage, intelligence and sense of self-respect
of the Danes, and vote No on 31 May for a better Europe, a better Ireland
and a better deal for the EU Applicants?
25. OUR EUROPEAN HOUSE
Those who recommend voters to agree to the changes in the Nice Treaty.,
which mean more union and less democracy, always call themselves Europeans.
Those who want to keep as much democracy as possible and who want a Europe
for all European countries, are called "anti-Europeans."
What is European about wanting to reduce the influence of voters in favour
of civil servants, Ministers and the Multinational companies in the global
marketplace, which are all given a greater say through the Treaty of Nice?
Why is it anti-European to support the idea that the voters should have the
last word on European issues too?
Critics of the EU are just as much Europeans as the supporters of the
Union. We do not support the USA, China or Japan. We are not Americans or
Asians. Being critical of the display of force and over-intrusive
government from Brussels does not have to mean you are xenophobic. It
simply means you are an ordinary democrat, who does not see diversity as a
problem. Most Europeans see diversity as the richness of Europe. We should
defend our right to be different, particularly when it does not interfere
with other Europeans' right to choose for themselves.
Freedom also entails responsibility for those who cannot look after
themselves, and a duty to help those who are worse off than we are.
Freedom presupposes a certain degree of equality, otherwise it becomes
freedom for the few and lack of freedom for the many.
We cannot have a well-ordered European household if many are living in the
utmost poverty and are so despairing of the economy that they prefer to
leave home and become illegal immigrants in our countries. It is not a
lasting solution merely to protect the rich nations' club by reinforcing
frontier police at the common external borders of the EU and to have
increased internal controls on discotheques and motorways, instead of the
old frontiers between the EU Member States.
True Europeans want to bring together the whole of Europe, not under
centralised government by civil servants and Ministers, but in freedom and
co-operation and mutual respect for diversity.
31 March 2001
Supplied by National Platform
Monday 7 May 2001IRISH SENATE PASSES THE NICE TREATY - BY ONE VOTE
(statement from The National Platform, Ireland)
Another milestone in Irish politics was passed last Friday,4 May
The Seanad (Irish Senate) passed the Bill to put the Nice Treaty referendum before the Irish people on June 7.
Few people will be aware of this. Neither, it seems, was most of the Seanad. A total of thirteen out of thirty Senators were present to debate this matter. Less than half could be bothered to show up to debate the future of Europe.
It was not a stormy passage. Fine Gael, who denounced the Treaty last December as "one of the weakest negotiating outcomes achieved by an Irish Government in the European forum since Ireland joined the Union"( Mr John Bruton TD, then Fine Gael leader) and then supported it in April, proposed a last-minute change.
They were worried that the Amendment to the Constitution had the wrong number on it. With the number of referendums on 7 June now down from four to three, the Nice Treaty Amendment should be the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and not the 24th Amendment. This was the only controversial matter in what was a non-debate.
Speaking in the Seanad, Fine Gael ME, Avril Doyle, revealed a deeper concern. She said "I feel we're at risk of encouraging challenge and I don't want any groundswell of opinion to grow about that."
Our domestic political elite is growing paranoid about this referendum. Rather than discuss what's actually in the Nice Treaty, tthey want to head off any opposition to it. THE BILL WENT THROUGH THE SEANAD BY SEVEN VOTES
TO SIX - another example of how Irish democracy is in safe hands.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL PLATFORM
- for a Europe of independent democratic cooperating states
24 Crawford Avenue,
Secretary: Anthony Coughlan (Tels.: Dublin 8305792 / 6081898)
For a free daily news service of critical information on EU affairs,visit EUobserver.com on the web
7 May 2001
Thursday 22 March 2001
MINISTER ANNOUNCES REFERENDUM ON NICE
IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER BRIAN COWEN ANNOUNCED THIS AFTERNOON THAT THE IRISH REFERENDUM ON THE TREATY OF NICE WULL BE HELD THIS SUMMER, PROBABLY AT THE
END OF MAY OR IN EARLY JUNE.
GOVERNMENT TOLD BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THAT A REFERENDUM IS LEGALLY REQUIRED BECAUSE OF THE EFFECTS OF THE NICE TREATY ON THE IRISH CONSTITUTION
THE IRISH REFERENDUM ON THE NICE TREATY WILL COUPLED WITH THREE OTHER REFERENDUM ISSUES -1. The International Criminal Court,
2. The death penalty, and,
3. Tribunal to deal with complaints against the judiciary.
OPPOSITION PARTIES IN THE IRISH DAIL CLAIM THAT THIS IS AN ATEMPT TO "MUDDY THE WATERS" AND TO PREVENT A PROPER DEBATE ON THE ISSUES OF THE TREATY OF NICE
Thursday 4 January 2001
BERTIE AHERN AND ANTHONY COUGHLAN GO TO MALTA
PRESS STATEMENT FROM
The National Platform
24 Crawford Avenue
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be in Malta from Sunday to Tuesday next on an
official visit that has the central objective of telling the Maltese that
if only they join the EU, they will have an economic boom like Ireland's.
Irish eurocritic Anthony Coughlan will be in Malta at the same time, having
been invited by the Maltese Campaign for National Independence and its
president, former Maltese Premier Bonnici, to go there to counter Mr
Ahern's euro-propaganda, and specifically to tell them that Ireland's
current economic boom has little or nothing to do with the EU. Mr
Coughlan will be speaking at a conference on the EU in Malta on Thursday
of next week, and he will have a number of meetings with local business,
trade union and civic leaders that are being arranged by his Maltese hosts.
He will also be covering the Taoiseach's visit up to Tuesday on behalf of
Ireland's "Phoenix Magazine" and will be attending the Taoiseach's press
conference in that capacity, to hear what Mr Ahern will be telling the
Maltese media and to interact with the local journalists who will be
meeting Mr Ahern.
This visit by Mr Ahern to Malta is the latest by the Taoiseach to some of
the smaller EU applicant countries. During the past year the Taoiseach has
gone on official visits to Slovenia, Hungary and Poland, in each of which
he has given the same implicit message: Join the EU and you will have an
economic boom like Ireland's. President Mary McAleese has been sent to say
the same thing in the Czech Republic. There can be little doubt - although
of course it will be officially denied - that these visits are ultimately
inspired by the EU Commission's propaganda office and the European Movement.
It is quite shameful that Irish "republican" political leaders should be
telling the people of small countries such as Malta that if only they
give up their democracy and independence, agree in principle to abolish
their national currencies, and take on board the 20,000 EU directives and
regulations that have been passed since 1957 - amounting to some 100,000
pages of legal text - without changing a jot or tittle, an economic boom
like Ireland's will come to them.
Mr Coughlan, who also happens to be a constituent of the Taoiseach's in
Drumcondra, will inform the Maltese that the most important single factor
responsible for the doubling of Ireland's growth rate since 1993, compared
to the previous two decades, is the fact that the years 1993-1999 were
the only period in the history of the Irish State when it effectively
followed an independent exchange rate policy, which gave it a highly
competitive currency. The resulting competitiveness has been added to
since 1999 by the weakness of the euro, as it is is now threatened by the
euro's current rise. Mr Coughlan will also inform the Maltese that in
the 1980s, a decade after Ireland joined the EEC, the Republic suffered the
emigration of one-sixth of its labour force and the unemployment of another
sixth. He will also tell them that it is now being gradually realised in
Ireland that the decision of Mr Bertie Ahern's Government to abolish the
Irish pound and adopt the euro is a ghastly mistake, not least because
the Irish State does two-thirds of its trade outside the eurozone - 80% of
its imports and two-thirds of its exports - and because the UK's agreeing
to abolish the pound sterling looks now increasingly unlikely. The
Republic's joining the eurozone, while Northern Ireland remains with
Britain outside it , will add a new dimension to the partition of
Malta is building up to a referendum on EU membership, which is the context
in which the Irish Taoiseach's visit is being made. A previous
Conservative (Nationalist) government in Malta applied to join the EU. Then
a Labour Government withdrew the application. Then a Conservative
Government renewed it. The Maltese Campaign for National Independence,
which has invited Mr Coughlan, is supported by people who belong to both
Labour and Convervative/Nationalist sides of the Maltese political
Enquiries: Tels. Dublin 6081898 / 8305792
Tuesday 12 December 2000
A PRELIMINARY CRITICISM OF THE TREATY OF NICE
from Anthony Coughlan
May I enclose for your information a preliminary criticism of the Treaty of
Nice which I have been asked to draft by the Board of the European
Anti-Maastricht Alliance (TEAM), of which I am a member.
TEAM links together some 40 eurocritical organisations on the political
centre,left and right across Europe,inside and outside the EU. The National
Platform organisation of which I am secretary, is affiliated to it, as is
the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). The views on the Treaty of Nice
expressed below may also be taken to express the position of the National
You may care to take note of the free daily news service mentioned in the
accompanying note - EUobserver.com - which, if you care to use it, I am
confident you will find to be a valuable source of information on EU
affairs from a critical perspective. It is based in Brussels and its
managing editor is Lisbeth Kirk from Denmark.
The National Platform (Tels: 6081898 / 8305792)
Tuesday 12 December 2000
SOME PRELIMINARY CRITICISMS OF THE TREATY OF NICE
THE EUROPEAN ANTI-MAASTRICHT ALLIANCE (TEAM)
This preliminary critical briefing on the Treaty of Nice has been drafted
by a member of the TEAM Board on the basis of agency reports on the Nice EU
summit, as the definitive final text of the Treaty is not expected to be
ready until January. The views expressed in the briefing are those of its
author and are not necessarily those of the TEAM Board as a whole, or of
the organisations affiliated to TEAM. However, it is being sent to you for
your information and in the hope that it contains points you may find
useful. Please feel free to use it or quote from it in whole or in part in
any form, without any requirement to acknowledge its source. The European
anti-Maastricht Alliance links together in a fraternal information exchange
some 40 parties and organisations on the political centre,left and right
across Europe, inside and outside the EU, that are opposed on democratic
grounds to further EU centralisation. Enquiries regarding it should be
sent to TEAM, European Parliament, LEO 2H251, B-1047 Brussels, Belgium;
Tel.+32.2.284.4579; Fax +32.2.284.9144; Web-site
http://www.team-alliance.org Please note also that an excellent free
news-service which gives critical and constructive information on EU
developments on a daily basis, is available on the internet at
http://www.Euobserver.com , The TEAM Board recommends that you and your
organisation should use and publicise this service.)
MORE EU CENTRALISATION IMMEDIATELY, BUT NO FIXED DATE SET FOR THE ADMISSION OF ANY APPLICANT STATES
The Treaty of Nice means immediate further centralisation of power and
decision-making in the EU. It means further diminution in the national
democracy and independence of the Member States, less control of government
decision-making by the EU's peoples. Together with the replacement of
national currencies by the euro in 2002 and the establishment of the EU
Rapid Reaction Force from 2003,it is a further step towards the EU Single
State. The supposed reason for the Nice Treaty is to make it easier for 12
EU Applicant States to join the Union. But Brussels gets the extra powers
immediately the Treaty is ratified, while no definite date hads been fixed
for admitting any of the EU Applicants.So far as they are concerned all the
key issues, above all agriculture, remain unresolved. The possibility of EU
enlargement tomorrow is thus being made the excuse for more EU
ANOTHER EU TREATY IN 2004 . . . THE PERMANENT EU CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION
The Intergovernmental Conference to draw up the Treaty of Nice was
established just months after the ratification of the 1998 Treaty of
Amsterdam. At Nice it has been agreed to hold another conference in 2004 to
draw up another EU Treaty. This initiative came from Germany, which
proposed that this next treaty-drafting conference "should consider the
further development of the process of European integration." Germany
envisages this conference producing a federal-type Constitution for the EU
as a whole or for its inner-core. This 2004 conference is just two years
after national currencies have been abolished in 2002,and just one year
after the EU Rapid Reaction Force(Army) has been established in 2003. So
the EU's permanent constitutional revolution continues: the relentless push
to transfer ever more power to Brussels and to Frankfort, in the name of
"the ever-closer union of the European peoples", mentioned in the preamble
to the 1957 Treaty of Rome - a union that is fast becoming a prison-house
of nations. In practice this 2004 new treaty-making conference will almost
certainly become a further barrier to the admission of the EU Applicant
The Declaration from the Nice EU summit indicated that this 2004
treaty-drafting conference would consider a division of the consolidated
EU Treaties into two
parts - a permanent part and a changing part. The former would include the
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as an element of an easily understood
European Constitution. The Member State governments would only be able to
change this unanimously. The other part would be on individual EU policies
like agriculture policy and social policy. This part could be changed
without any new treaty ratification, that is without the approval of
national Parliaments. The result of this division of the treaties into two
parts, which Germany in particular pressed for at Nice, would be a
continuation of EU integration under German-French hegemony, but without
the need for approval from national parliaments and voters in EU-sceptical
member states like Denmark. Thus the Nice Treaty could prove to be the last
Treaty that needs democratic approval in the traditional manner.
MORE VOTING POWER FOR THE BIG STATES VIS-A-VIS THE SMALL ON THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS THAT MAKES EU LAWS
The Nice Treaty increases the weight of the big States as against the
small. Germany, France, Britain and Italy will have their present voting
strength trebled in an EU of 27, while small states like Denmark,Ireland,
Finland will only have theirs doubled. This clearly means a diminution of
the latter's relative voting weight. As voting decisions by qualified
majority will also in future have to reflect a majority of the EU's
population, this further strengthens the weight of the big States, in
particular Germany, whose 80 million people make it the largest EU State.
"Without us highlighting it, Germany's weight has grown", said Chancellor
Schröder after Nice.
Provisional information gives the breakdown of weighted votes in an
enlarged EU of 27 States as follows: Total votes 344; qualified majority
255; blocking minority 90. National votes allocated as follows: Germany
29, France 29, UK 29, Italy, 29 Spain 27, Netherlands 13, Belgium 12,
Greece 12, Portugal 12, Sweden 10, Austria 10, Denmark 7, Finland 7,
Ireland 7, Luxembourg 4;
And for the Applicant States: Poland 27, Romania 13, Czech Republic 12,
Hungary 12, Bulgaria 10, Slovakia 7, Lithuania 7, Latvia 4, Slovenia 4,
Estonia 4, Cyprus 4, Malta 3.
ABOLISHING THE NATIONAL VETO IN SOME 30 POLICY AREAS . . . FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN NATIONAL DEMOCRACY AND SOVEREIGNTY
Below are some of the policy areas where the Treaty of Nice proposes that
unanimity among EU States should be replaced by qualified majority
voting(QMV). Outlining detailed possibilities for EU decisions and
legislation in these areas will have to wait until the agreed text of the
Treaty becomes available in January:-
- agreement on foreign policy, justice and home affairs issues
- regulation and financing of European political parties
-international agreements on trade in services and intellectual property
- EU Cohesion Fund, Structural Fund rules and actions for social-economic
cohesion outside the Structural Funds
- industrial policy
- appointment of the EU Commission President and the High Representative of
the EU Foreign and Security Policy
- implementing basic rules on asylum, the treatment of refugees, illegal
immigration measures and measures of co-operation in justice and home
affairs(The UK and Ireland may at present opt out of applying such rules)
- regulations of the EU Budget
- measures enabling freer movement within the EU
- emergency financial assistance to Member States
-rules of procedure of the European Court of Justice and Court of First
- members of the Social and Economic Committee. the Committee of the
Regions and the EU Court of Auditors
The Treaty's proposal to abolish the national veto in these policy areas
where the principle of unanimity was hitherto considered essential, is a
further erosion of national democracy and the fundamental democratic
principle that laws should be made with the consent of the governed. It
means the end of national democratic control over these areas. It means
that even if the people of a particular country does not want something in
the area concerned, even if its Parliament does not want it and its
Government does not want it,and even if the Minister from that country on
the EU Council of Ministers votes against it, it can still go through and
become an EU law that binds the country in question if a majority of other
EU governments vote it through. In other words, it means consenting to rule
by foreigners in the policy areas concerned.It means that the citizens of
any EU country, and its Government, cannot on their own make or change a
single EU law or policy in such areas.
The defenders of more EU majority voting say that people should welcome
this step because it gives each EU Member State the right to join in
imposing something on other EU States and peoples against their will, in
return for accepting that they in turn have the power to impose on the
first State what it and its people do not want. This cynical principle that
the exchange of two evils makes a good, should be rejected. It is not a
basis for stable good relations between States and peoples. Making laws in
this supranational way is fundamentally undemocratic and lacks popular
legitimacy. It tends to be attractive to Ministers who are members of
national governments, because it turns political executive who in their own
countries are accountable to national parliaments and electorates, into
law-makers for the 350 million people of the EU, operating behind closed
doors, and answerable collectively to nobody. It frees Ministers from the
control of national parliaments and voters and gives them a huge increase
in personal power. This prospect appeals particularly to politicians from
small countries. Politicians from large States on the other hand can look
with relative equanimity on the surrender of the national veto in the EU
because they know that, whatever about treaty provisions, their countries
are in reality too powerful to have their vital national interests
A TWO-TIER EUROPE INSTEAD OF A PARTNERSHIP OF EQUALS . . .THE REAL CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF THE NICE TREATY: OPENING THE WAY FOR THE BIG STATES TO HIJACK THE EU INSTITUTIONS FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES
Perhaps the most politically important aspect of the Treaty of Nice has
been to open a path to a two-tier EU, an avant-garde versus rearguard EU,
an outer-circle versus inner-circle EU, a core versus periphery EU. Up to
now the EU has formally been a partnership of equals, with all
States,large and small, moving together like in a convoy. Any fundamental
change has to have the consent of all. But now the Treaty of Nice abolishes
the unanimity requirement for any such two-tier development that was set
out in the Amsterdam Treaty only three years ago. This is the real
political response of Germany and France to the prospect of EU enlargement
- to move the goal-posts for the Applicant States. If the latter ever
succeed in joining the EU, they will find that the "convoy" has split up,
with the "big-ship" countries going ahead on their own. The EU will have
mutated into an inner circle and an outer, with the poorer East Europeans
in the latter. This profound change in the legal-political character of
the EU which is provided for in this Treaty, will allow a group of States
based on the German-French axis to confront the EU members outside this
group with continual political and economic faits-accomplis. It will enable
the upper-tier or inner-circle States effectively to hijack for their own
purposes the EU institutions - the Council of Ministers, Commission, Court
and Parliament - which up to now have formally existed to serve the
interests of all as equals. As former EU Commission President Jacques
Delors admitted last June: "We will have to create an avant-garde...We
could have a union for the enlarged Europe, and a Federation for the
avant-garde." If Germany, France and others wish to form a Federal State
amongst themselves, that is their right if their peoples give their
consent. But they have no right to hijack the EU treaties and institutions
to serve their own purposes, on the plausible-sounding grounds of
"enhanced cooperation" and "flexibility."
Abolishing the national veto on "enhanced cooperation" means that Member
States that wish to repatriate policy areas such as control of fishing
waters, social policy or argiculture from the supranational level back to
the national level in the name of "subsidiarity", give up their main
practical means of achieving this. The only realistic way they could do
this would be to use the veto as a bargaining chip, to say in effect that
they would allow the more integrationist members to go ahead only if, in
return, the latter allowed them to take a few steps back. Horrified by this
prospect, the EU federalists thought up "enhanced cooperation" to prevent
this happening. Once the Nice Treaty is ratified, individual EU States will
in practice have lost all chance of repatriating powers while remaining
members of the EU.
ADOPTING AN EU CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS THAT HAS NOT BEEN DISCUSSED IN
ANY NATIONAL PARLIAMENT . . . ASSERTING A RIGHT TO MARRY, BUT NO RIGHT TO
It is a democratic scandal that a group of politicians at Nice should
arrogantly presume to foist on the 350 million people of the EU a so-called
"Charter of Fundamental Rights" that has not been considered or discussed
in the national parliament of any Member State. This Charter is a mixture
of human rights that are already fully guaranteed by existing national
Constitutions, as well as by the Convention and Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg,and a mish-mash of rights arising from positive law that are
mostly already established under the existing EU treaties. This Charter is
more about power than about rights. Its real object is to provide a basis
for the extension of EU law into the most intimate areas of our lives - for
human rights arise everywhere - by making human rights justiciable before
the EU Court of Justice. At Nice it was clearly signalled that the Charter
would become EU law in the proposed year 2004 Treaty, which is envisaged as
the Constitution of the EU Single State. As Germany's Chancellor Schröder
said last October: "There is good reason to accept this text as the basis
for an eventual European Constitution." Even if the Charter is not yet
incorporated into an EU Treaty, its adoption as a political declaration
will still enable the EU Court of Justice - that "court with a mission" as
one of its judges once called it, the "mission" being to expand to the
maximum the power and competence of the EU - to refer to it as a legal
standard and use it to justify extending the scope of its judgements into
wider and wider areas.
The difference between an incorporation of the Charter now compared to
later is not real. There will be no new content in 2004. The contents of
the Charter is on the table now and that is why it is now in connection
with the Nice Treaty that the battle on this aspect of the future Treaty of
2004 takes place.
The limitations of the Fundamental Rights Charter are shown by the fact the
rights it sets out are not so fundamental after all. For example Article 52
says that they may be limited in the interest of the objectives of the EU.
And while the Charter asserts a right to marry and found a family, it says
nothing about a right to legal separation, although the right to legal
separation in an unhappy marriage has been recognised in the laws of the
all EU Member States for over a century. And it does not mention divorce.
If the EU is genuinely concerned about strengthening human rights, why does
it not sign up to the European Convention and Court of Human Rights? But
that would subordinate it to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and
would defeat the political purpose of the Charter.
EU ENLARGEMENT IS GOOD FOR NEITHER THE EAST EUROPEANS NOR FOR EXISTING EU MEMBERS
EU membership is bad for the East Europeans because it deprives the
citizens of these Applicant States of much of their recent hard-won
national democracy and independence. Before joining the EU they must
incorporate into their laws some 20,000 EU directives and regulations,
amounting to over 100,000 pages of legal text, without being permitted to
change a jot or tittle. They must accept the changes agreed at Nice, which
they had no part in making, plus whatever changes may be agreed in the
planned 2004 EU treaty. They must commit themselves in principle to
abolishing their national currencies, so that the European Central Bank,
whose policies are geared mainly to the interests of Germany and France,
will exercise unfettered economic dominion over them. In effect they must
agree to become an economic colony for West European transnational
business, with German and other EU interests being legally entitled to buy
up their land and assets at knockdown prices; for EU law forbids the
retention of national controls in these areas. They must co-operate in
drawing a new frontier across Europe,against Russia,the Ukraine,
Byelorussia and other countries. At the EU's insistence Poland is at
present constructing a new EU frontier of watch-towers and barbed wire
along its frontier with Byelorussia and Ukraine, countries it has
interacted with for centuries. "The Guardian" newspaper, London, recently
reported that there have been suggestions that German policemen should
advise on this, so that the EU will be assured that the Poles will police
the EU's new eastern frontier thoroughly, and not allow in hordes of poor
Ukrainians or Russians. If the Czech Republic should join the EU before
Slovakia, the Czechs will be expected to to do the same vis-a-vis the
Slovaks. Is not all this a more profound economic and political servitude
for the East European countries than any they had to endure as clients of
the former USSR? Russia, after all, never insisted that they adopt the
rouble as their currency! Instead of hoping for magic solutions for their
problems by joining the EU, the East European countries would sureky be
better advised to hold on to their national democracy and independence,
develop closeer economic links among themselves - which mnakes every sense
for economies at broadly similar levels of development - and above all hold
on to their own currencies, and the influence that gives them on their
exchange rates and interest rates.
The East European governing elites who have made such a mess of running
their own economies since 1989, tend to see the EU as a "deus ex machina."
They like to imagine themselves happily helping to run an enlarged EU,
alongside the governing elites of Western Europe, while they can blame
their domestic problems on Brussels in future. Meanwhile their populations
grow ever more disillusioned, as they begin to realise how EU membership
will destroy their national democracy and independence. Recent opinion
polls show most Poles and Estonians are now opposed to joining the EU.
EU enlargement is impossible without tackling the problem of the EU's
Common Agricultural Policy(CAP). Poland alone has 2 million farmers, as
many as in the rest of the EU put together. What is to be their future?
Present EU enlargement plans envisages most of them in time disappearing
from the land. With enlargement, moreover,whatever EU Structural Funds are
available for the poorer existing Member States will have to be diverted to
the poorer among the new ones, or spread more thinly over more people.
Politically, EU enlargement must reduces further the influence of the
present smaller EU members. As Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said in
November: "An increase in the size of the EU will undoubtedly reduce the
direct influence of each individual member-State by itself. That is
inevitable." How can it be in the interest of the smaller EU countries to
have their voting weight permanently reduced on the EU Council of
Ministers, which makes EU laws, in order to give greater voting weight to
Grermany, France and the larger member-States,as is proposed in the Treaty
DEPRIVING MEMBER STATES OF THEIR RIGHTS WITHOUT JUDICIAL PROCESS
Article 7 of the Nice Treaty proposes to strengthen the provision of the
Treaty of Amsterdam (1998) wherby any Member State found by the others to be
in breach of human rights may have its voting rights on the EU Council of
Ministers suspended. Such drastic action is not to be taken by any judicial
body, but by the offending State's fellow Members on the Council. The
potential for abuse of this provision in bringing pressure by the big
States on the small in relation to matters that have little to do with
human rights, should be obvious.
MiLITARIZATION OF THE EU . . . THE EU'S RAPID REACTION FORCE
The Nice summit made clear that it is intended to press ahead rapidly with
the EU Rapid Reaction Force(Army), which was originally intended to come
formally into being in 2003. The implications of Nice for the
militarization of the EU will be dealt with in a revised version of this
preliminary briefing later.
Monday 11 December 2000
REASONS FOR A REFERENDUM ON THE TREATY OF NICE
Statement from Anthony Coughlan, Secretary, the National Platform
A referendum on the Treaty of Nice is undoubtedly constitutionally
necessary, for only the Irish people - who under our Constitution are the
sole repositories of sovereignty - can make the surrender of sovereignty
involved in this latest EU treaty, says Anthony Coughlan, secretary of the
The Government will surely not want to have a repetition of the debacle of
the 1987 Crotty case, when the Supreme Court found it to have acted
unconstitutionally by purporting to ratify the Single European Act by
majority vote of the Dáil, instead of letting the people decide by
The license conferred on the State in previous European referendums to join
the EEC, then the EC, and then the EU, does not extend to the European
Union as it will become when and if the Treaty of Nice is ratified.
If today's report in the Irish Times is correct, the Government has agreed
to abolish the national veto in over 40 policy areas where it has been
considered essential up to now. The Taoiseach is said to have battled hard
to retain the veto on taxation policy as an essential part of national
sovereignty. The Government now needs to spell out for the people the
implications of EU law-making by Qualified Majority vote in the 40 other
areas in which the Taoiseach has agreed to surrender it.
Acceptance that Ireland will not have an EU Commissioner for certain
periods in the future is a significant change in the institutional
structure of the founding EU treaty, the Treaty of Rome, which has so far
gone unchanged in all subsequent EU treaties. So is the proposal that the
Commission President should allocate portfolios to Commissioners and be
able to demand their resignations. EU institutional changes like this also
require a referendum in Ireland.
Abolition of the national veto on "enhanced cooperation" amounts to a
constitutional revolution in the EU system. It opens a legal/political
path to a two-tier EU, an avant-garde versus rearguard EU, a core versus
periphery EU. Up to now the EU has formally been a partnership of equals,
with all States,large and small, moving together like in a convoy. Now the
"convoy" may be split into two parts, with the "big ship" States steaming
ahead, without everyone's consent being required. This is Germany and
France's political response to the prospect of EU enlargement - to move the
goal-posts for the Applicant States. As former EU Commission President
Jacques Delors put it last June: "We will have to create an
avant-garde...We could have a union for the enlarged Europe, and a
Federation for the avant-garde." "Enhanced cooperation" is the way to that.
A proposed doubling of the membership of the EU from the present 15 States
to 27, 30 or more is not just a quantitative change, but a qualitative one.
As the Taoiseach himself said in a speech to the European Movement some
time ago,"An increase in the size of the EU will undoubtedly reduce the
direct influence of each individual member-State. That is inevitable."
The fact that Ireland did not have a constitutional referendum on the
occasion of previous EU enlargements, is no justification for not letting
the people decide on this. There is a sound body of legal opinion that we
should in fact have had referendums on the these previous occasions, all of
which had the effect of diminishing Ireland's influence in the EU, as the
Taoiseach admits. But the matter has never been tested in the courts.
However, the Treaty of Nice contains provisions - some mentioned above -
that go well beyond anything that is legally necessary to admit more EU
It is essential that the Government does not hold the necessary referendum
on the same day as an abortion referendum - so repeating the cynical
coupling of two totally different referendum issues, the Good Friday
Agreement and the Amsterdam Treaty, as happened in April 1998.
The proper course for the Government now is to produce a White Paper on
the Treaty of Nice (Mr Noel Dorr is still around to draft it), send a
summary of it to every household - as was done with the Treaty of Amsterdam
- make sure the people have plenty time to digest it and comprehend it,
and when the Government decides the referendum date, give the Referendum
Commissison sufficient resources to inform the Irish people what they are
being asked to do, and enable it to set out the arguments fairly for and
against their doing it.
Enquiries: Anthony Coughlan - Phone 6081898 / 8305792
Wednesday 15 November 2000
The National Platform sends you some recent excerpts from the Agence Europe
news service, to inform you of issues arising in the lead-up to the Treaty
of Nice. The Irish Government is expected to sign this Treaty on 9
NOEL DORR ON THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE TREATY OF NICE
(EU) EU/INSTITUTIONAL REFORM/IRELAND:. . .
Brussels, 20/10/2000 (Agence Europe) - Noel Dorr, Ireland's personal
representative in the IGC Preparatory Group, this week set out his
country's stance on the EU's ongoing institutional reform before the
European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs, noting in
particular that, so far, the "yes" had easily won the day in each referenda
organised in Ireland on European issues, but that the situation could be
more complicated in future. Throughout his exposé, Noel Dorr stressed that
the "small" countries needed European institutions, and in particular a
strong Commission, to protect their interests. And, citing the latest
speech by Romano Prodi to the European Parliament, said: we need a strong
Commission, legitimate and effective, in which everyone can see themselves.
Ireland, therefore, obviously does not want to give up its Commissioner.
Stressing that the debate on the future of Europe should not jeopardize the
present, Mr. Dorr said he was concerned at seeing that so far those
speaking in the debate had hardly ever placed emphasis on the important
role the Commission played.
As for Qualified majority voting, Mr. Dorr said that Ireland could
agree to its extension to a further 17 articles, but not, in particular, to
issues like asylum, taxation (except in combating fraud) and the social
model. Eight other Member States even more against moving from unanimity to
a qualified majority than is Ireland, he also pointed out. In answer to
British Liberal-Democrat Andrew Duff who asked whether today we were not
seeing a kind of "British contagion" in Ireland, Mr. Dorr replied: no,
there is no contagion, and we are not in favour of the primacy of the
intergovernmental method, precisely because the Community method is
essential for small countries. Ireland has an open attitude in discussions
over enhanced cooperation, but believes that a majority of Member States
should participate; in addition, it warns against the danger of
fragmentation and a lack of cohesion within the Union.
Asked about the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Mr. Dorr recognised that
his country would have problems in giving it a legal character and, in
answer to the possibility of a reference to the Charter in Article 6 of the
Treaty, he said he feared that would lead to the necessity of convening
another referendum in Ireland.
GARRY COLLINS MEP SAYS LARGE EU STATES ARE TRYING TO BULLY THE SMALL ONES
Strasbourg, 24/10/2000 (Agence Europe)
The aim of the Charter is to remove from national democracies the ability
of defining for themselves what the rights and duties of their citizens
are, said Mr Berthu, from the group for a Union of a Europe of Nations,
who, moreover, warned against the "ultrafederalist" supporters, he said, of
a "hard core", who were apparently encouraged by the Danish "no" in the
referendum on the euro. If they continue along this road, not only will
they cut Europe in two but they will also cut themselves still more from
their own population, he said. Mr Dupuis. . . for his part fears that
Europe is busy moving towards a situation where Member States "no longer
have any say", with "more Brussels, more centralisation, and less
The large Member States are trying to bully the small ones, exclaimed Mr.
Collins (Irish, Union for a Europe of Nations), adding: to ratify the
review of the Treaty, countries like Ireland, Portugal and Denmark must
organise referenda, and it will certainly be difficult for them to secure
majorities if the new Treaty "dilutes State representation". The Swedes,
Ms. Schorling (Green Group) and Sjostedt (United Left) and Finland's Mr.
Suominen (EPP) also spoke out against any "hard core", and Dutch
Christian-Democrat Ms. Maij-Weggen placed emphasis on extending
co-decision. Finally, the French Socialist, Ms. Beres said that the Nice
Summit had to make a reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights in
Article 6 of the Treaty so as to avoid the discrepancy, pointed out by
Mendez de Vigo too, that would exist if that Article only referred the
European Convention on Human Rights (to which the EU as such does not
ABOLISHING THE NATIONAL VETO
(EU) EU/INSTITUTIONAL REFORM: PROGRESS ON MAJORITY VOTING . . .
Among the subjects that may move towards qualified majority voting, on
Monday the following were mentioned: measures against discrimination,
social policy, tax, economic and social cohesion and the environment. For
each of them, it is not a question of moving in a single go from unanimity
to a majority, but of ring-fencing certain aspects on which decisions could
be taken more easily. "Ten States agree to move to qualified majority
voting for Article 13 (anti-discrimination measures)", said a spokesperson
for the French presidency. Majorities were also observed on other articles
but they are all still the subject of important reservations on the part of
certain delegations (among them, Denmark for social affairs, Greece,
Portugal and Spain on economic and social cohesion, etc.). Adjustments are
still required in all areas. Other difficult subjects (trade policy and
provisions regarding visas, asylum and immigration) will be broached at the
Group's next meeting, on 30 October. The Presidency will then present a
summary report on 4 and 5 November, at the informal meeting of the Vimont
Group in Paris.
Discussions over the revision of Article 7, moreover, demonstrated on
Monday that a majority of delegations would like a warning mechanism
allowing for the existence of a risk of violations of the fundamental
values of the European Union to be detected, even though Denmark is still
very reluctant. They are in favour of the establishment of light and
sufficiently flexible procedures to give the Council a certain margin of
manoeuvre when need be, while affirming the right of the country concerned
to defend itself. The debate on enhanced cooperation was adjourned until
On the fringe of the meeting of the Vimont Group, the Portuguese Minister
for European Affairs, Francesco Seixas da Costa, said that he was not all
that optimistic regarding developments in negotiations. "The Biarritz
Summit did not contribute in moving things forward. It worsened the
mistrust of the small and medium-sized countries and rendered the debate
more rigid", he told the press. For him, the attempt by the more populated
countries to strengthen their power in the Council before enlargement, is
aimed at rendering the small countries "unnecessary" in the decision-making
process . . .
A CONSTITUTON FOR THE EU SUPERSTATE IN THE MAKING
Strasbourg, 25/10/2000 (Agence Europe) - On Wednesday, the European
Parliament adopted two reports, tabled by French Socialist Olivier Duhamel
and the member of the Partido Popular, Jose Maria Gil-Robles, in which they
set out under what conditions they see the development of a
"constitutionalisation" process of the treaties, and easier terms for
"enhanced cooperation". Here are the main contents of the texts approved:
- "Constitutionalisation". With 395 in favour, 105 against and 42
abstentions, the European Parliament approved the path suggested by Olivier
Duhamel, which is: - a) initiation of a constitutional process (beginning
with reorganisation of treaties) uring the Nice Summit, with the adoption
of a declaration annexed to the Treaty laying down a mandate, procedures
and a timetable for the commencement of the drafting of a Constitution for
Europe; b) the unfolding of the process (during which the constitutional
committee will dialogue with the Convention, attended by candidate
countries) so that the Constitution may be finalised before the European
elections in 2004, and then result, after assent from the European
Parliament, in popular referendum (which would take place the same day in
all Member States: amendment by Green members Monica Frassoni, Gérard
Onesta and Johannes Voggenhuber adopted by 287 to 244 and 11 abstentions).
- Enhanced cooperation. With 408 votes in favour, 63 against and 57
abstentions, the Parliament approved the report by José Maria Gil-Robles
practically without amendment (only adopting an amendment by British Labour
member Richard Corbett specifying that the conditions to which enhanced
cooperation is subject must be relaxed without endangering solidarity
between Member States). The Parliament mainly states that: - reinforced
cooperation must also cover CFSP and exclude the possibility of being
employed in the areas where the Treaties provide for decision by majority
vote; - at least one third of Member States must take part in strengthened
cooperation; - the right of veto must be abolished; - the institutional
unity of the EP and of the Commission cannot under any circumstances be
challenged during the activation or the implementation of enhanced
Olivier Duhamel pleads in favour of a European Constitution through a
"Thank-you...thank-you Jacques, first...Jacques Delors. Thank-you
Altiero Spinelli and Fernand Herman, thank-you all, from Vaclav Havel to
Carlo Ciampi, from Joschka Fischer to Jacques Chirac, from Michel Barnier
to Pierre Moscovici, Chris Patten to Costas Simitis, and passing over a
multitude of current MEPs who, since 1999, have taken over the banner for a
European Constitution. Thanks to all of you, a new idea is making headway
on the European continent, that of a European Constitution". This is how
Olivier Duhamel opened his speech in the debate on his report, stating:
"Democracy is faring better in Europe, but, for its part, European
democracy is sick. One European citizen in two did not vote in the June
1999 elections. One in two of my students do not know who Romano Prodi is,
whereas they almost all know of Michael Schumacher and Monica Lewinski!".
Today, we have "seven treaties", "hundreds of articles", "an inextricable
muddle of standards and desires", noted Duhamel, adding: "the European
constitution exists. I have never come across it. It exists: the
institutions have been created; relations between them fixed; Nobody has
ever come across it. No text is called European Constitution. Our
Constitution is invisible, unreadable, unintelligible. In that sense,
Europe still has no Constitution". Today, we must agree on an objective, on
the "urgency of a European Constitution", without discussing its contents,
said the rapporteur, suggesting "two stages, one rapid, the re-organisation
of the treaties, the other gradual, the adoption of the Constitution".
These two stages need launching in Nice, according to Duhamel,
stipulating: a) the re-organisation of the Treaties must be decided in
Nice; that the Commission and Parliament tackle it from January 2001
already, that the Court issues its opinion in the spring, that the Council
formally adopt the treaty in the summer, and that national parliaments
adopt it; b) the second "stop-over" of the Constitution: the process must
begin in Nice, "the European Parliament and Commission are available", a
"renewed Convention could follow", and, when the process is completed, may
the people have their say". "I dream of a European referendum where
electors of all Member States debate the same goal: their Constitution (*)
In 2004 at the latest, the European constitution could be adopted", Duhamel
concluded, asking his audience not to nip this dream in the bud.
EUROPEAN BISHOPS CRITICISE CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE EU CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL
Louvain, 25/10/2000 (Agence Europe) - The annual General Assembly of
the Council of the European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) took place in
Leuven last week under the chairmanship of Cardinal Miloslav Vlk from
Prague. It allowed the presidents of the 34 Catholic Bishops' Conferences
of Europe to meet representatives of the European institutions and to
discuss, above all, the EU enlargement process and initiatives to promote
"reconciliation and the development of democracy in the countries of South
Eastern Europe", reads a press release. In addition, the press release
specifies that the General Assembly hoped for closer cooperation with
COMECE (the Commission of the Bishop's Conferences of the European
Community), which is based in Brussels.
The Assembly adopted, moreover, a declaration in which it welcomes the
adoption of the draft European Charter of Fundamental Rights, mainly
appreciating the reference to certain socio-ethical principles such as
subsidiarity, solidarity and the respect of national identity. The bishops,
however, find some of the formulation used in the Charter incomplete or
unacceptable, and apart from the lack of any reference to God, they cite
the prohibition of cloning of human life (limited to reproductive cloning),
and the distinction between the right of marriage and the right to a
family, which seem to indicate that one is seeking to recognise
relationships that are different from marriage and to call them families. .
EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT PRODI REGARDS THE NATIONAL VETO AS "A BALL AND CHAIN"!
Brussels, 31/10/2000 (Agence Europe) - On Tuesday 31 October, the European
Commission had a discussion on the Intergovernmental Conference on
institutional reform in the EU, at the end of which Commission President
Romano Prodi and the Commissioner for institutional issues, Michel Barnier
came to speak to the press on the state of negotiations, both assuring
journalists that, right up to Nice, the Commission would endeavour to
preserve the Community model and secure as large an extension of qualified
majority voting as possible.
The real test of the success of this IGC will be the extension of qualified
majority voting, Romano Prodi reaffirmed, adding: it is a question of
abolishing as far as possible the right of veto, which is a "ball and
chain" for European construction today, and will be even more so tomorrow.
In Biarritz, we had encouraging results on this subject, but "national
administrations now seem to be back-stepping", and there is "an ebb" on
this issue, said Prodi, recalling that, for the Commission, it was
"crucial" that qualified majority voting was enlarged to three sectors:
trade policy (unanimity on services and intellectual property places the
Commission is a position of weakness in international negotiations), social
policy (social security schemes remain national, but account must be taken,
for example, of border problems, that risk either not being "covered", or
taxed twice), asylum and immigration (the programme of Tampere "cannot be
achieved through unanimity"), certain tax matters (it is a question of
"updating" certain texts that go back ten years or more, said Mr. Prodi,
citing VAT and excises), cohesion policy. After 2006, "it seems to me that
it will be impossible to carry this policy through with unanimity", Prodi
told the press. As for Mr. Barnier, he noted: I believe that we are moving
towards an "agreement" on qualified majority voting for cohesion policy, as
one can well imagine what would happen if, in an EU of 25, the veto should
remain for a policy as fundamental as solidarity within the EU (were we to
keep unanimity; either we do not move forward, or we nationalise, or we
sprinkle, he said). On qualified majority voting, "as we stand, we are
making no progress, and there is even a risk of back-treading in relation
to the spirit of Biarritz", said Michel Barnier.
ENQUIRIES TO ANTHONY COUGHLAN, SECRETARY, THE NATIONAL PLATFORM, 24
CRAWFORD AVE., DUBLIN 9 (Tel.830 5792)
From Mr Anthony Coughlan:
DANGERS OF EU ENLARGEMENT
Sir, - Enlarging the European Union to incorporate several East
European states is a good thing, the Taoiseach said in his
recent address to the European Movement (The Irish Times,
November 7th). I suggest it is a bad thing, both for them and
for us, for the following reasons:
It is bad for the East Europeans because it it deprives the
citizens of these applicant states of their hard-won national
democracy and independence. Before joining the EU they must
adopt some 20,000 EU directives and regulations, amounting
to around 100,000 pages of legal text, without changing a jot
or tittle. They must also commit themselves in principle to
abolishing their national currencies, so that the European
Central Bank, whose policies are geared mainly to suit
Germany and France, will exercise unfettered economic
dominion over them. Is this not an economic and political
servitude more drastic than anything they had to endure when
they were clients of the former USSR and members of
The East European governing élites, who have made such a
mess of running their own economies since 1989, see the EU
as a deus ex machina. They picture themselves as happily
helping to run an enlarged EU, alongside Ireland's governing
élite and that of the other West European members, while in
future they can blame their domestic problems on Brussels.
Meanwhile their populations grow ever more disillusioned, as
they begin to realise how EU membership will erode their
national democracy and independence. Opinion polls show
most Poles and Estonians to be now opposed to joining the
There is no significant economic gain for Ireland in
enlargement. Poland has 2 million farmers, almost as many as
in the whole of the EU. Absorbing them must wreck what is
left of the Common Agricultural Policy, which was the principal
economic attraction for this country of the original EEC. With
enlargement, whatever EU Structural Funds are available will
have to be spread more thinly. Irish taxpayers will soon have to
pay more money to Brussels than it pays to us.
But the more fundamental reason why EU enlargement is not in
our interest is that, as the Taoiseach himself acknowledged in
his speech: "An increase in the size of the EU will undoubtedly
reduce the direct influence of each individual member-state by
itself. That is inevitable."
How can it be in Ireland's interest to have our voting weight
reduced on the Council of Ministers, which makes EU laws, in
order to give greater voting weight to Germany, France and the
larger member-states, as is proposed in the forthcoming Treaty
of Nice? How can it be in our interest to abolish the national
veto in some 30 policy areas hitherto requiring unanimity? This
means the end of any national democratic control over those
areas. It means that even if the Irish people do not want
something, even if the Dáil does not want it, and the
Government does not want it, and even if the Irish Minister on
the EU Council of Minister votes against it, it can still go
through and become an EU law that is binding on Ireland and
Irish citizens because a majority of other EU governments have
voted for it. In other words, it means agreeing to rule by
foreigners in the policy areas concerned.
May I suggest that it manifestly is not in Ireland's interest to
abolish the national veto in order to permit the Germans,
French and some others to establish an avant-garde or
inner-core quasifederal EU superstate among themselves, so as
to be able to confront those unwilling to go that far with an
endless series of political and economic faits- accomplis? By
abolishing the present unanimity requirement for any such
move, the proposed Treaty of Nice would effectively open a
path to the transformation of the EU from what is - in form at
least - a partnership of equals, into a two-tier union. It would in
effect permit Germany and France to hijack the EU treaties
and institutions - the Commission, Council, Court and
Parliament - to facilitate them in their EU superstate-building
plans, instead of their forming a quasi-federation outside the
EU treaties, if that is what they really want to do. -
ANTHONY COUGHLAN, The National Platform,Yours, etc.,
(Letter as appearing in Irish Times, Friday, 17 November 2000. Emphasis added)