Sitting in the dentist’s waiting room for an hour, there were few alternatives to reading the newspaper. The letters page included a comment on the Lisbon Treaty suggesting that it was not proper for the Government to ask people to vote on a treaty that they couldn’t read.
The Treaty is tortuous stuff, but it is readable by anyone who seeks it out on the Council of Europe site:
As a non-national and as a Christian concerned with issues of peace and justice, I do not understand why Ireland is so ready to sign up to a treaty which seems to eliminate Ireland’s neutrality and allows little scope for independent thought or action. Must Irish people now accept the policies of the nations that dominate Europe, even when these involve the invasion of countries?
The treaty appoints an EU foreign minister who will implement a common EU foreign policy:
ARTICLE 9 E
The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, shall appoint the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy . . .
. . . The High Representative shall conduct the Union’s common foreign and security policy. He shall contribute by his proposals to the development of that policy, which he shall carry out as mandated by the Council. The same shall apply to the common security and defence policy.
The strategic interests of a little country like Ireland sitting in the North Atlantic may diverge greatly from those of the countries of central and eastern Europe, but the interests of the Union as a whole will be determined by the European Council:
ARTICLE 10 B
. . . the European Council shall identify the strategic interests and objectives of the Union. Decisions of the European Council on the strategic interests and objectives of the Union shall relate to the common foreign and security policy and to other areas of the external action of the Union . . .
There is no mistaking who will be responsible for foreign and security policy:
ARTICLE 10 C
. . .the Union’s competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union’s security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence . . .
and no mistaking that the intention is to create a supranational body where individual countries develop mutual solidarity and increasing convergence.
Within the framework of the principles and objectives of its external action, the Union shall conduct, define and implement a common foreign and security policy, based on the development of mutual political solidarity among Member States, the identification of questions of general interest and the achievement of an ever-increasing degree of convergence of Member States’ actions.
On the day when the Government admits that the Department of Education has written to National Schools telling them to let teachers go because of budgetary restraints, what would Bertie Ahern, or Enda Kenny, make of the following?
THE COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY
49.3 Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy.
Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities.
Get rid of the teachers and hire more soldiers.
Is this what ordinary Irish people want?
Maybe it is, but shouldn’t the Treaty at least be printed and distributed to voters?