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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ireland says NO, but talks on the future president continue...

In this edition:
  • Ireland shows EU establishment the red card
  • Citizens sign up to petition for Ms. Europe
  • EU Treaty: Czechs send backup Presidency plans
  • East Europeans to enter competition for top EU job
  • My over-all comment- the Treaty may have problems, but obviously the post of President is way too delicious to be forgotten so easily. Enjoy.

Ireland shows EU establishment the red card

13 June 2008 | Updated: Monday 16 June 2008

The citizens of the only EU country to hold a popular vote on the Lisbon Treaty have rebuffed the Union's entire political class with a resounding 'no' to the reform text, throwing the EU into yet another political crisis.

A total of 53.4% of Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty, with just 46.6% voting in its favour. Turnout was not as low as initially predicted with 53.1% of the electorate turning up at the urns.

With a total of 862,415 votes against, the Lisbon Treaty, which would have affected all the EU's 495 million citizens, was effectively rejected by 0.175% of the bloc's population, throwing the EU into an existential crisis.

While many are put out that the whole EU project could be stalled by such a small number, many pro-referendum campaigners argue that the opinion of the "silent majority" had not really been taken into account. They say that had referenda been held in several other EU countries, the results would probably have been largely similar.

Perhaps the biggest paradox, highlighted by Ireland's leaders, is that the vast majority of Irish citizens are not anti-European and largely acknowledge that their country has benefited hugely from EU membership.

However, after a one-month campaign marred by the resignation of former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern over corruption allegations, a majority of the Irish voted against the 'eurobabble' proffered by the 'yes' camp and an almost unreadable text, which even Ahern's successor Brian Cowen admitted he had not read.

In an apparent failure to understand the real problem behind the vote – the lack of communication between Brussels' ivory towers and Europe's citizens – EU leaders rushed to make strong statements and give advice on the best way out of the crisis.

With the Slovenian Presidency drawing to a close, it will be now mainly in the hands of the incoming French Presidency to lead the search for a way out. Ironically, it was France that threw the EU into a similar state of chaos when its own citizens rejected the now-defunct Constitution in 2005.

The intention of the French appears to be to ensure that ratification continues. In the meantime, a re-run of the referendum could take place, as happened after the Irish first rejected the EU's Nice Treaty in 2001.

Unless another, more original solution emerges…

Excluding Ireland?

One of the most radical ideas being expressed is that Ireland should leave the EU. But Jouyet has dismissed such 'fantasies', saying "we cannot take a country out of Europe that has been there for 35 years". He instead suggested that an alternative legal arrangement for "a specific type of co-operation" now had to be found, which would allow the rest of Europe to move on. If Ireland were left in the freezer while Europe advanced, it could be the makings of an "à la carte" Europe.

At the forthcoming EU summit on June 19-20, the UK, France and Germany are all expected to express their desire to continue the ratification process, as are the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden.

EU leaders are also expected to ask Ireland how it intends to proceed. That would put the pressure on Dublin to seek certain changes, opt-outs or assurances on the treaty text so that it could then put it to a second referendum. Or Ireland could find a way to allow the others to proceed with the key reforms without it.

If the EU fails to find a quick way out of the crisis, it is likely to be weakened internationally, notably in its dealings with powers such as Russia and Iran. Indeed, a key aim of the new Treaty was to lend more credibility to the EU as a political heavyweight in the international arena.

The Lisbon Treaty foresees the establishment of a permanent EU Council President and an External Action Service as well as a strengthening of the role of the EU's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy.


My comment: Now...I'm very sad from Ireland's decision, mostly because it was based on totally wrong reasons. I mean, I can understand to turn down something you don't like and present your arguments. But to turn down something you haven't read, because you hadn't have the nerve to read it is funny. Or to turn it down simply because someone said it would be a good idea for the sovereignty of Ireland. All the reasons behind that No are brutally idiotic and I can't say anything else. I kind of approve the EU decision to move forward with the ratification, because for me, something should first be created and then changed to a better working form. You can't simply create a 400 pages legal document that would read easily and will sound sensibly. As long as there aren't any OBVIOUS wrong ideas it should be accepted and then if the necessity arises, to be changed. I'm not saying we should go for a compromise, but it's one to compromise with the CONTENT of a document, and other thing to compromise with the FORM and the PR of the document. And Ireland did the second. Unfortunately. So, now, let's see how the EU will proceed.

Citizens sign up to petition for Ms. Europe

5 June 2008

In just one day, over 1,000 signatures were collected for an internet petition demanding that heads of state and government appoint at least one woman to the four top positions in the EU.

Danish Socialist MEP Christel Schaldemose launched the citizens' initiative, the 'Females in Front' websiteexternal . Her aim is to collect one million signatures from European citizens, in the hope of influencing the decision that ultimately will be taken by the heads of state and government of EU countries.

Within the next 12 months, four EU leadership positions must be filled: President of the EU Council of Ministers, President of the European Commission, President of the European Parliament and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy .

"At least one of these posts should be held by a woman," insists Ms. Schaldemose. She added that with one or more women in top positions, the EU would become far more representative of its citizens, which would also increase the legitimacy of the European Union.

One woman has frequently been pinpointed as a potential candidate for the top EU job – German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Recently Commissioner Margot Wallström published an articleexternal in the Financial Times entitled "Europe's old boys need to make way for women," which lists several other names.

According to Stanley Crossick, a veteran EU policy analyst and founding chairman of the European Policy Centre (EPC), Merkel is the only person who has "the authority and ability" to ensure the importance of the troika and would also contribute to another desirable criterion, which is gender balance (see his postexternal on Blogactiv for a full analysis). A recent opinion poll (EurActiv 07/04/08) indicated that Angela Merkel was perceived by EU citizens as the most influential leader in the Union. But so far Ms. Merkel has shown no intention whatsoever of leaving national politics to opt for the EU top job. source

My comment: Haha, absolutely cool! I mean, I agree there should be a woman, but I don't agree we should gather signatures in order to make them choose her. I think this should come naturally, not to be required. Whatever, I support.

EU Treaty: Czechs send backup Presidency plans

3 June 2008

The Czech government yesterday (2 June) sent out its programme for the EU presidency starting in January 2009 in two versions in case not all countries ratify the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year.

The Czech Republic wants to be prepared for an EU without the Lisbon Treaty due to the situation in Ireland, where its approval in a referendum on 12 June is uncertain.

The Czech Republic has yet to approve the Lisbon Treaty. On the initiative of the governing eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Senate has asked the Constitutional Court to examine whether the treaty is consistent with the constitution.

Vondra also voiced specific concerns regarding his country's EU presidency if the treaty comes into force in 2009 as planned. "There must still be a role for the prime minister of the presiding country," Vondra said, referring to the Treaty's creation of a new position of permanent president to chair EU Council meetings.

If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by all countries on time, the Czech Republic may be the first to experiment with "cohabitation" between the future permanent president of the Council and the head of state or government of the country holding the rotating EU presidency. Up till now, the division of roles and responsibilities between the two has remained unclear.

But according to Vondra, it is crucial for the Czech Republic to look for a balance between roles assigned to EU countries, existing institutions and newly created officials.

The Czech Deputy Prime Minister also voiced his views on the profile of the future 'Mr. Europe' role. "The future permanent chairman of the European Council should not be any European president," Vondra said. "If anything, he should fulfill the role of a moderator of a discussion, not of a steam roller who would crush the rest by his body or force of his ideas," Vondra said, adding that no specific names had been mentioned.

A low-profile president acting as a moderator rather than a leader is generally the preferred profile of those opposed to a more federalist EU.

Last week, the Czech Republic, France and Sweden submitted a joint 18-month programme for the EU presidency, with energy security and the climate as the top priorities. source

My comment: Well, I am kind of on their position, that the president shouldn't be that powerful. I mean, I don't like so much power in the hands of one person.

East Europeans to enter competition for top EU job

4 June 2008

The new member countries from Central and Eastern Europe will fight hard to get one of the three prominent EU jobs created by the upcoming Lisbon Treaty, according to Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a former Polish European Affairs Minister who is now chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET).

Speaking to Brussels journalists on Tuesday (3 June), Sariusz-Wolski said he expected the three top EU jobs to be distributed upon along "five axes: North-South, East-West, old-new, left-right, small-big".

Sariusz-Wolski said he did not include the President of the European Parliament in the package deal, explaining that he did not want member sates to interfere in the institutions internal affairs.

Speculation around who will be appointed to the new positions has been rife in Brussels and EU member state capitals with a number of names being floated already .

However, these plans would likely collapse altogether if the Irish reject the Lisbon Treaty in a decisive referendum on 12 June.

The Polish MEP praised French President Nicolas Sarkozy for changing his country "in the right direction", in particular for improving its relations with the US, reassessing France's role in NATO and resuscitating the "St. Malo spirit of effective defence". /could I find a good word for the Polish betrayal?, sorry, but I don't understand why Poland should be such a good US puppy/

The head of AFET said he hoped for a "better chemistry" between the EU and the USA following the US elections. He also said he hoped the EU will stop being "a payer and not a player" in world affairs. source

My comment: I don't understand how this guys can be so disgusting. I find such ambitions rather untasteful and ugly. It seems to me that Poland cares only about itself, which is wrong. And that love for the USA-ugly, very very ugly.

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