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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The US State Department on the Lisbon Treaty

We’ve seen all the intra-European arguments about Lisbon (now in force for a full fortnight) – what we really need is some expert extra-European opinion. So ta very much to Philip H Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, for his handy overview.

Key points?

- “the role of Member States in decision-making is undiminished”

- “The treaty… allows for some EU states which are at the forefront of defense cooperation to pursue greater harmonization of their defense apparatus without the limitations of those states who do not wish to participate

- “the Lisbon Treaty represents a serious effort by our EU partners to streamline their policymaking process. We understand that, as with all efforts to reform complex institutions, this is a work in progress, and that it may take time for the new institutions to demonstrate their impact. Nevertheless, we hope that the changes brought by Lisbon will make the EU a stronger partner for the United States, and increase the role of Europe on the world’s stage. We want the EU to be that stronger partner and we certainly intend to do our part to engage closely with the new institutions, but in the end their ultimate effectiveness will be determined by the will of EU Member States to invest in them.”

Well would you look at that? The United States doesn’t seem to think that Lisbon has brought about a superstate (as some of our more hysterical anti-EU friends seem to believe), but rather that it continues to allow EU member states a great deal of individual power and flexibility. And the United States also seems to believe that – as its supporters have consistently maintained – the Lisbon Treaty is primarily aimed at streamlining the union’s working methods.

Oh, and just to add to what anyone with half a brain and the ability to read has been saying about the thing, Assistant Secretary Gordon also notes the increased powers that are going to the European Parliament – that’d be the increased democracy bit that we’ve been going on about for the last few years.

So, what’s the conspiracy that explains the US State Department echoing the EU’s own line on Lisbon – a line that’s supposedly dishonest propaganda designed to hide the true sinister intent of the treaty? Anyone?

(Sorry for the blogging silence here of late, by the way – very, very busy for the last few weeks…)

20 Comments

  1. Perhaps the US would like to sign up for it themselves?.

    Or would they prefer their ancient English rights and Liberties, the same ones being stripped from us here and being replaced by dangerous and inferior napoleonic socialist clap-trap?.

  2. To succeed, the unelected, unaccountable EUSSR ‘commisioners’ are reliant on Indoctrinated useful fools.
    —————

    Quotes From The Creators Of The Lisbon Treaty!

    white_box

    The former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, who was Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, has this to say:

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

    Former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, V.Giscard D’Estaing, has this to say:

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

    The British Labour MP who helped draft the EU Constitution, Gisela Stuart has this to say:

    “There is no longer a question of saying there are certain things that the union can’t touch. Actually the union can touch everything.” – commenting on the Lisbon Treaty, January 18th, 2008.

    http://??.sl.pt

  3. “Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly … All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”
    - Former French President V.Giscard D’Estaing, who helped to draw up the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums and which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty, Le Monde, 14 June 2007
    _______

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Might I refer you to Google, which will in turn point you to over 500 posts about the Lisbon Treaty that I’ve published on this site? And another 700+ about its predecessor, the constitution?

    They will address all your points and – if you bother to read the lot – also allay your concerns.

    But considering you used the term “EUSSR”, something tells me you’re not going to bother…

  5. One of the (the only?) useful things about the posts from Tim is that there is no room for any other europhobic to add anything. (Dangerous talk that). However, it’s nice to have views from elsewhere, as you say.

    NB Congrats on an honourable mention on Margret Wällstrom’s final blog!

  6. Ooops: spelt Margot Wallström’s name all wrong. Sorry, Margot.

  7. Tim,

    Have you noticed that all your quotes are dated before the time when the readable (consolidated) version of the Lisbon Treaty was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115)?

    Why wouldn’t the USA sign up to the Lisbon Treaty? For them, it would be a step backwards, because they agreed on a more effective Constitution in 1787, but for Europe the Lisbon Treaty is a (small) step forwards.

    Please, continue in denial mode, or – like some, hallucinate about life under EUSSR occupation – while the rest of Europe has embarked on a new journey, modest as it is.

  8. Tim

    From your response I take it that you are – albeit unwillingly – prepared to accept the idea of a federated EU – if ever such a proposal was to be made?

    The EU’s founders, and a few of those who came after, tried to build such a federalist approach but failed. Lisbon was a clear step away from any such idea. The EU is unique: there has been and there are still no comparable international organisations. It is a union of member states, nothing more.

    NB I’m not sure whether you live in the UK (?) but I read that Mr Cameron appears to be losing support, in part due to his antipathy towards the EU. UKIP for you?

  9. It’s my first post here so hello everyone.

    I have to admitt, since I just found this site, that I haven’t read over 500 posts about the Lisbon Treaty and 700 about its predecessor. I’ve read 3 articles on this blog so far. Why am I writing this? Because “I’ve covered it 1000 times before” is not a good argument against anyone’s doubts. At least paste a link to one interesting post on the discussed topic because searching them all, especially for someone who just joined, is a challenging task. I don’t need to say that ‘I’ve already written about that’ is an argument of no weight, do I?

    When we talk about the democracy.. I know that ‘a lie repeated hundreds of times becomes the truth’ so the ‘democracy is the worst form of government except all the others’ slogan repeated on every occassion makes democracy the best system ever. However, I think one has to be a little blind or very one-sided to not notice that there is very little democracy in the EU. I liked the sentence in the above post saying that giving more power to Europarliament is a sign of more democracy. Pity that you haven’t mentioned what are those new powers EUparliament received and haven’t compared them with the powers of institutions which really lead the process of integration. That would tell us more.

    Another point about democracy (of course, I’m sure you’ve already covered it somewhere) – how can it be democratic in any way to not respect the first Irish “no”? What was the logic in repeating the referendum? Will the referendum be repeated in, let’s say, a year to find out what Irish people think about the Lisbon Treaty then? And why it won’t be repeated any more? EU charges showed the total contempt towards democracy system proving that “when they vote as we want them to vote, then the democracy is good, and if they vote against, we will use all the democratic and semi-democratic methods to give them a chance to change their mind”. If the EU leaders were consequent, they would make another referendum in Ireland in a year or so.

    Why wasn’t the French and Dutch ‘no’ respected (and save me stories about a completely different Lisbon Treaty from what they voted on), why do the EU have state attributes (flag, anthem etc)?

    People who started the EU integration a few decades ago would turn in their grave if they saw the bureaucratic and centralised moloch they, accidently, gave a birth to. Those who today lead the EU are those who in 70′ were fascinated with the Soviet Union. However, they think that they understood its mistakes and can make it better. I doubt it.

    Before the Lisbon Treaty, the EU states were like ships connected loosely with ropes and heading in more less the same direction, so there was a chance that one ship could change the direction a little bit. After the LT they are tightly connected and there is no chance for any state to adjust the direction. It’s much more difficult to change ship’s head now. And the question is what is this course we are heading to? In my humble opinion, it’s a modern bureaucratic copy of the Soviet Union, with 95% of everyday life’s areas being regulated. Yous should one day make a post of which areas is the EU going to control & regulate – would be fun to read.

    D3tocqueville

  10. D3tocqueville,

    The Lisbon Treaty explicitly states that each member state can withdraw from the European Union.

    I wonder which 95 per cent of your daily life the EU regulates. Your situation must be truly exceptional, because the EU principally regulates areas relevant for the internal market and trade with the outside world.

    If you want democracy at EU level, it is not especially logical to require that 26 member states desist from reform of the common rules if about half of one per cent of the total population votes against.

    The real (as opposed to your imagined) changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty are fairly modest, so there are few objective reasons to arrange referendums with regard to this treaty, if you do not present a principled approach to all international treaties to be subject to the same procedure.

  11. Ralf Grahn,

    I am afraid that you haven’t really read the clause allowing all states to withdraw from the EU. Had you read it, you would have known that the formula makes it almost impossible to withdraw, so raising this as any kind of freedom (or similar) brought by the Lisbon Treaty is pointless. The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance also had a clause saying that each member state can withdraw but it wasn’t making it possible. The same goes about the EU.

    As to regulations, can you list for me the areas “relevant for the internal market”? I can guarantee you that they make HUGE part of your everyday’s life. These regulations are not only problematic for the producers but above all for the customers – EU wants to regulate almost every single thing you can buy – from sweets to cars and houses. That is the way in which all bureaucratic systems work – they are making every thing identical. Why? Because it’s much easier to control them that way. Bureaucracy is the biggest threat to the diversity.

    As to your third paragraph. Your perspective of viewing the Lisbon Treaty is completely different from mine. You say that only 0.5% of population voted against so it shouldn’t stop others. From my point of view 100% of all states which were actually allowed to vote, were against it. So? What would happen if more were allowed?

    Lisbon Treaty is a huge change for the EU and even if from the formal point of view it’s just another treaty, in fact it changes things completely. Having referendums on it would not mean that referendums would have to be hold on every other treaty. What are we even talking about? Lisbon Treaty was supposed to be accepted by all states – otherwise it was supposed to be invalid. And what happened? One state voted against and somehow EU leaders managed to put it through. The law in the EU is not set in stone and changes to meet the EU leaders aims – and can be changed, reversed at any time. So saying that “if we did this, we would have to do that all the time” carries no weight.

    D3tocqueville

  12. D3tocqueville – hate to be a pedant, but of the states that were allowed a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, it was 50:50. After all, only Ireland voted on the Lisbon Treaty – and it voted against, then for (with a larger margin, on a larger turnout).

    If you’re taking the Constitution into account as well, then the split was 2:1 – France and the Netherlands voted against, but Spain voted overwhelmingly for in its referendum (20th February 2005, as it seems you’ve forgotten).

    As for the rest, can you give any concrete examples of how the Lisbon Treaty “changes things completely”? I’m genuinely intrigued, as as far as I can tell it changes very little. So little, in fact, that it’s largely pointless. (Certainly far too pointless to address your other points in any detail – until you show just how and why the thing is in any way important.)

  13. D3tocqueville,

    I have not only read the treaty Article 50 TEU on withdrawal, but written about it repeatedly, as on much of the law and politics of the European Union.

    The basic decision to leave the EU is quite simple and wholly within the powers of each member state.

    But even a divorce between two individuals with children and some property can be a complicated affair before final. Is it too hard to understand that the manifold ties between a seceding country and the EU – legal, institutional, financial (including funding, budget contributions) – need to be sorted out in detail?

    You may have noticed that the accession negotiations are long processes. In a way, secession is like reverse engineering accession. To do this in an orderly fashion is in everybody’s interest, but the decision to leave the EU becomes effective in two years from notice even in the sad and messy case that no agreement is reached.

    Why don’t you use the Holiday Season to read up on European integration and the European Union using reputable sources, instead of repeating the worst distortions brandished about by ideologically driven anti-EU crusaders?

    In the end, you might still hate the EU and want your country to secede, but your arguments would be somewhat nearer to the real world.

  14. Eric B,

    even if we take the farcial second referendum in Ireland into account and those three on the previous constitution then still we have more votes against than votes for. So? What did you want to prove with that? Because certainly not that the democracy was respected in any way. Had it been respeceted, they would have been no second referendum in Ireland. However, as I previously mentioned, the EU leaders can repair their sins, be consequent and make a third referendum in Ireland to find out what they think now. This is not going to happen though, proving that the EU leaders achieved their aims when it comes to Ireland and now Irish people can shut up – no on is going to ask them about anything any more. Why no third referendum, Eric B? Elaborate.

    The Lisbon Treaty changes very little in your opinion? Well, the European leaders don’t agree but maybe you know better, who knows. If you are right and indeed it changes very little then huge determination showed by the EU charges in introducing it looks kind of weird. Why were they so determined? They ignored French and Dutch votes, renamed the constitution, didn’t respect the Irish ‘no’ and forced them to vote again, were pressing other states leaders to sign it as fast as possible. If such a determination and contempt to democracy were showed in order to “change very little” then those EU leaders are very weird people, aren’t they?

    And since you asked for some details. Do you understand what does having a legal status mean? Or are you going to deny that the Lisbon Treaty gave the EU a legal status? Ever heard of sovereignty? Ever wondered if it’s divisible? Judging from your post and ignorance towards my other points you showed, I’ll stop here and just give you a few Lisbon Treaty clauses changing a lot: page 39, 10A-c-3, page 17, 8B-4, page 12, Article 2-4, page 13, 3A-3. Just examples, use your spare time to get to know them.

    Ralf Grahn,

    I’m sorry, sir, but I hear nothing but blabla, so to speak. You just supported what I said – that withdrawing from the EU will be hell of a task to complete. Just as it was in the Warsaw Pact. Your explanations as to why it is justified to be complicated is off-topic here. Everyone knows that it is complicated but only those who read something else than everyday’s propaganda realise that in fact the level of complication of the withdrawal makes it almost impossible to complete.

    The thing is that we see the same letters, the same sentences in Lisbon Treaty but we interpret them in a completely different way. It’s quite natural because they are built in a way so that there will always be doubts. Nothing is realy solid and can be interpreted in many ways – and it wasn’t designed like that by accident. As I pointed out previously the EU charges don’t stick to the law, they use it to achieve their aims (Irish second referendum) – so it’s the best for them to make all the clauses relative to the point of ridicoulesness.

    What are your reputable sources? List them out for me? Are they only those pro-European or official EU documents? Because I could advise you to take a look at the other side of the barricade – I don’t have to do that because all of arguments I’ve heard so far here are repeated on a daily basis in most medias. Eurosceptics do know the other side well unless they turn off the TV and stop reading newspapers. The same can not be said about the euroenthiusiasts.

    Last but not least, I’m glad that we agreed that the EU is sticking its nose in everyday aspects of our lives.

    D3tocqueville

  15. D3tocqueville – So wait? It’s undemocratic to give people the chance to change their minds? One vote on an issue is enough to demonstrate the will of the people to the extent that they need not be asked again?

    That doesn’t sound a lot like democracy to me… The way I see it, the whole point of democracy is to allow the people the chance to change their minds regularly. That’s why we have elections and changes of government.

    Now, you could argue that asking Ireland to vote again a little over a year after the first vote is too soon. But that’s really just a matter of opinion. How soon is too soon? One year? Two? Three? Four? Should the second UK general election in 1974 have been discounted? Are the US midterms too soon after the US Presidential election? In my local ward, for various reasons we’ve had council elections every year for the last five years – should we not have bothered?

    In any case, to denounce a referendum in which *more* people voted than the first one as undemocratic is a bizarre definition of the word.

    You ask Eric B above why there was such determination to bring in Lisbon when it changes very little (a point with which I only partially agree)? Simple:

    1) The minor changes that it does make are small but important for the continuing functioning of the Union – and were intended to be introduced way back in 2001 with Nice, as they are mostly intended to make things less complicated and confusing for an EU of 27 rather than 15 member states.

    2) Many of the pre-Lisbon rules for the way the EU worked had a set time limit on them, and were due to run out at the end of this year – if Lisbon hadn’t passed, the EU would have been working on outdated and, as a result, arguably illegal rules.

    Personally I don’t think this would have been much of a problem, and have argued that Lisbon should have been scrapped after the first Irish referendum. But many did feel it was a major issue – that the clock was ticking.

    The changes Lisbon brings about were meant to happen 8+ years ago, and have been under discussion for over a decade. With the deadline looming, little wonder they were keen to speed things up. I agree that it looks bad – but then again, I always thought that holding referenda on either the Constitution or the Lisbon Treaty was unnecessary, as these are *international treaties* and therefore fall into the realm of diplomacy and foreign relations – the one part of the political system in which democracy should have no role.

    On your other points:

    1) “legal status” Do YOU understand what this means? The EU has had a legal status for years. That Lisbon introduces such a thing is a nonsense. It clarifies a few points, certainly, but it’s really not as big a deal as some anti-EU people have been claiming.

    2) “sovereignty” Again, do YOU understand what this means? On the “divisible” nature of sovereignty, does NATO membership mean sovereignty is divided? How about the UN? The WTO? The WHO?

    Finally, you argue for referenda, yet don’t want sovereignty to be divided?

    I’m assuming you’re British – correct me if I’m wrong. If so, you do realise that soverignty lies not with the people, but with the Crown in Parliament?

    According to the British constitution, and precisely due to the nature of sovereignty in Britain, the British government is not elected – it is appointed by the monarch (though convention – as well as the practicalities of politics – usually (but not always) leads the monarch to appoint the party with the largest number of MPs to govern). Likewise, the right to make peace and war and to sign treaties with foreign powers is technically still a royal prerogative.

    For the British government to be directly elected by the people would be a diminution of the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. Likewise, forcing the government/Crown to gain the people’s assent to make international treaties, peace and war would be a diminution of its sovereignty. (Hell – the right to make peace, war and treaties is one of the fundamental roles of government and always has been. There are very, very few countries in the world where the people have ever had a say in these matters.)

    You can argue that in Britain the people *should* be sovereign – and I’d probably agree with you. In this day and age they almost certainly should. But the fact is that they are not – and even if they were, democracy and diplomacy don’t mix. It’s incredibly dangerous to suggest either that they do or should – as you instantly undermine your country’s ability to negotiate.

    I also suggest you go to Ralf‘s site and read some of his posts on Lisbon. There are loads of them, they are very detailed indeed, and explained in more or less layman’s terms by someone with far better legal knowledge than you or I. You’ll almost certainly need to use the search box to find everything relevant, but if Ralf hasn’t already covered all your points in detail, with references to all the relevant documents and clauses, then I’d be very surprised.

  16. 3Dtocqueville,

    Your plain contradictions of statements of fact do not augur a learning attitude on your part.

    Thus, serving you with reading suggestions seems like a waste of time, but since you ask the question, I have a question in return: Which languages do you read?

  17. May I add one morsel. It is often the case in parliaments that a proposed law fails to gain the support necessary. A government which feels the law necessary then seeks to address the specific issues that are claimed to have led to opposition; the proposed law is then re-presented to parliament.

    That is what happened in the referenda on the Constitution (France and the Netherlands); and with Lisbon (Ireland and Poland). The Constitution proposed to replace all previous treaties with a single new, unifying treaty; Lisbon merely adds to, or amends, existing treaties (which remain). A subtle but important difference. (NB I live in France; the reasons for their No were purely domestic – an anti-Chirac demonstration).

    As for Ireland and Poland, they were offered guarantees which addressed their public’s main concerns. These will be fully incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty whenever the next country joins the EU.

    I agree that Lisbon fails pathetically to offer much in the way of citizen’s democracy but it has improved things a little, as Nosemonkey’s post sets out.

  18. Nosemonkey,

    as to democracy in the EU, well, you really can’t have any solid arguments for it because even europhiles admit that there is not enough democracy in the EU. I am no fan of democracy but I don’t like liers and hypocrites whose mouths are full of democracy slogans while their actioncs show total contempt towards this system.

    You want to tell me that organising second referendum in Ireland was democratic because people could speak their mind? Fine, fine, but here the question I already asked arises – why not third referendum in a year or so? Can you answer this? Why it is fine to let the people speak if their first answer was negative and it is not fine to let them speak after their answer was positive? The answer is so obvious that I’m quite ashamed to write it here since everyone who has at least a little distance to the EU and is not taught to accept everything he’s served, understands that the second Irish referendum was a farce when taking previous agreements into consideration. And, naturally, there will be NO third referendum, so people will not be asked regularly, as you would like to. You call it democracy? Please, sir.. Or do you know something I don’t and there are some plans to ask people in Europe about their feelings towards the EU via referendums? Because you don’t want to tell me that national elections or Euroelections are supposed to do so, do you?

    You said that EU leaders were in such a hurry in order to make things easier and less complicated for 27 states. Do you know what makes things less complicated in such case? The way is to centralise the power, standarize everything and make every state as similar to each other as possible – and that’s what we see. As I said previously, when the bureaucrats are in charge, they need to have everything the same everywhere because that way it’s easier to control.

    1) I think you confused something here or has little knowledge about the internationl law system. The EU has never had legal personality and the Lisbon Treaty changes it. I advise you to check what does having and not having the legal personality means in the international environment.

    2) Participation in, let’s say, NATO is a whole different story from being one of 27 districts in the European Union. In current EU your state can be told what to do in almost every area of it funcionality and your possibilities to oppose are ridiculously limited. You have to do what you’re told in the way that participatio to no other organsation can be compared with that.

    I also wonder what do you think about the EU sticking its nose in our everyday’s life and regulating everything because Ralf Grahn said that they stick their nose in internal and external markets only. However this was like shooting in his own foot because the subject of the above can be every single thing which can be bought/sold.

    And some useful sites you may check are The Bruges Group, Open Europe or Eurealist. You know, sticking to your and your friends sites, all with the same or similar approach to the EU, won’t let you broaden your mind, on which, by the way, I’m still working – that’s why I’m here.

    D3tocqueville

  19. D3tocqueville – Why not a third referendum? Simple – because Lisbon has now entered into force.

    To use an analogy that should appeal to a Eurosceptic, think of the Lisbon referendum as a vote on whether or not to jump over a cliff. Once you’ve voted to jump and gone over the edge, it’s too late to change your mind.

    For Ireland to now reject *just* Lisbon is impossible, because that would screw up the entire system for all 27 member states. (Which would hardly be democratic either.) Ireland is, however, more than welcome to pursue further concessions, or to hold a referendum on withdrawal.

    “you don’t want to tell me that national elections or Euroelections are supposed to do so, do you?”

    Erm… Well actually yes… Not national elections so much, but European elections are *explicitly* for representatives in the European Parliament. If you can’t express your opinion by voting for an anti-EU party at the European elections, then you can’t anywhere. They’re also conducted under proportional representation, allowing the smaller parties a chance of getting MEPs elected. Under the Westminster, First Past The Post system, parties like UKIP have little chance of getting in.

    I personally am opposed to referenda, for reasons I have gone into hundreds of times on this site (do a site search and you’ll see). Short version: they’re easily distorted, hugely expensive and massively impractical.

    I am also increasingly of the opinion that the EU has plenty of democracy, if you compare it to other democratic systems – and significantly more than any other supranational organisation (when did you last vote for anyone to represent you at the UN, NATO or the WTO?). We also had a lengthy discussion about the concept of the EU’s democratic deficit here last year, which should answer most of your questions (though I doubt it’ll convince you).

    “The way is to centralise the power, standarize everything and make every state as similar to each other as possible”

    Which is why Lisbon increases the power of national parliaments to hold up and change EU legislation, I suppose? And is also why there’s been an increasing trend towards deregulation under Barroso (one of the few good things he’s done)? And why the subsidiarity principle keeps gaining greater prominence (if nowhere near as much as I’d like…)?

    “your state can be told what to do in almost every area”

    A classic eurosceptic misunderstanding, this. “The EU” doesn’t tell ANY member state what to do. Because “the EU” IS those member states. If “the EU” introduces new legislation, and the UK has to adopt that legislation, this is ONLY because the UK has already agreed that this legislation is a good idea. On every substantive issue – even after Lisbon – member states retain vetoes. All major decisions are confirmed either in the European Council or the Council of the European Union – which are made up by the heads and ministers of the governments of the member states. So instead of “the EU tells”, a more honest phrase would be “the governments of the EU member states agree”.

    “what do you think about the EU sticking its nose in our everyday’s life and regulating everything”

    I think this is an exaggeration. EU legislation and regulations do, however, affect a sizable chunk of everyday life. And a good thing too – for wherever you have one bit of EU legislation or one EU regulation, that means that you are saving millions of pounds/euros/dollars across the continent – which no matter how much you think the UK economy is reliant on the EU can only be a good thing, because all savings mean the European economy will be healthier.

    Why does EU legislation = savings? Because for ANY regulation or legislation to come into force at EU level necessarily implies that ALL 27 member states have agreed that this legislation/regulation is necessary. It’s not an immense leap of logic to therefore suggest that all 27 member states may well have introduced such legislation/regulations at a national level. And this would cost money in each member state, as each government works out what it wants to do entirely independently, each civil service checks the practicalities and costs entirley independently, and each country implements the legislation/regulation entirely independently. And this would necessarily lead to subtle variations between the legislation/regulations member state to member state.

    By doing it at an EU level, the member states can pool their resources to cut down on research costs prior to passing the legislation/regulation, and also ensure harmonisation – increasing ease of trade between member states (as manufacturers don’t have to produce 27 subtly different versions of the same product to comply with 27 different national rulebooks).

    All of this leads to savings – both in terms of bureaucratic costs at a national level, and in terms of economic efficiency. So EU legislation/regulation is, as a general rule, a good thing. (There are of course examples of bad EU legislation and bad EU regulations, but as member states are generally given a good deal of flexibility on the implementation – while still having to stick to the general principle that they’ve all agreed at EU level – there are normally ways to get around it.)

    And yes, I do read the Bruges Group (an uncle of mine regularly writes for them, in fact), Open Europe, Eurealist – plus EU Referendum, EURSOC, Dan Hannan, England Expects, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ironies Too, The Tap, and even The Brussels Journal from time to time. I also occasionally go for a few pints with the Devil’s Kitchen, and have had beers with Tim Worstall before now.

    You see, the whole reason I write about the EU is that I used to be a eurosceptic. I still buy a good number of the eurosceptic arguments. I like and get on with a number of eurosceptics. I just disagree with them on a number of issues.

  20. Sorry for dumb post but I just want to check what [i]code[/i] works here. You can delete this comment, I’ll answer to your above post in this new post you published yesterday.