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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A thoughtful Irish take on the EU Fiscal Treaty on referendum day

Conor Slowey is one of the most interesting EU bloggers out there, and I agree with his take on things more often than not. He’s also Irish, which means he’s had to form a solid yes/no take on the EU’s Fiscal Stability Treaty ahead of today’s Irish referendum on the damned thing.

Rather him than me. It’s a complex, confusing compromise that no one’s really happy with, and it’s near impossible to tell if it’s better than the alternative. Largely because no one knows what the alternative is.

After several months of hard thought, he finally worked out his position just a couple of days ago.

Yep – someone who’s been blogging about the EU regularly for three years, and who knows infinitely more than your average punter about how these things work, has taken several months to work out their position. Little wonder that early reports suggest that turnout could be under 10%. Yes, really – under ten per cent.

Which all makes Conor’s reasoning all the more interesting:

“I really don’t like this treaty. It’s clear that it will neither have prevented the crisis… nor will it do anything to solve it. As I’ve pointed out before, the Treaty is 90% existing EU law, since the European Parliament has passed the “six-pack” of legislation last year. It’s already mostly in force – it has caused political complaints in Belgium, and was part of the reason for the collapse of the Dutch government this year.

“For these reasons I originally wanted a No vote as a political message against austerity and to promote a more balanced approach at the European level. I don’t oppose some level of collective budget discipline nationally if it leads to a positive reform of the Eurozone: Eurobonds, the ECB becoming the lender of last resort, a banking union so that banking problems will not be localised and made the problem of one or two Member States, etc. But it should come as part of a grand bargain where it’s not simply about the core and the periphery, but about building a working Euro-system. Suggestions that ratifying the FST would give Germany enough confidence in the Eurozone to sign up to Eurobonds “sometime in the future” did not comfort me.

“So why have I moved towards a Yes?”

Well worth a read. If it were me voting today, I have to say I have no idea what I’d opt for…

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