Archive for June, 2008

After the Irish no – where to now?

14 June 2008

My two cents:

  • As I said yesterday, the current system of institutional reform in the EU is unreasonable and unfair because it makes decision-making impossible. So let’s ditch it.
  • Before attempting to reform the Treaties again, we need to agree on a new procedure to ratify Treaty changes first.
  • My proposal would be to do this by a single, EU-wide referendum. A positive result would require reasonable majorities of the form: at least x% of all voters and at least y% of the voters in at least z% of the Member States should vote in favour, with x,y,z at 50 or more.
  • The percentage of Member States where a Yes-vote is required (z) would be somewhere between 50 and 80% of the total number.
  • In return for the EU-wide referendum, which gives every citizen a direct say, all Member States abolish (the possibility of) constitutional referendums at home for EU Treaty changes.
  • Let’s carry on with the Nice Treaty for the time being, that is: until the new ratification system is in place. As Carl Bildt also pointed out on his blog, Nice does seem to work better than expected.

Oh no, not again…

13 June 2008

A few thoughts after the Irish ‘No’:

  • National politicians and national media still have a major communication problem concerning the EU. European politicians too, of course, but they cannot solve the problem. Only those who already have the voters’ ear can do that.
  • The irony of constitutional safeguards: Current legal constraints on the powers of governments prohibit the creation of legal structures that would offer better legal constraints on the informal powers that governments already have created for themselves.
  • The democratic paradox: The smallest of Member States can veto a Treaty change supported by all other Member States. Isn’t this the dictatorship of the minority?
  • If the issue was costs to tax payers or delivering concrete results, Irish voters would have voted ‘Yes’, massively.
  • Nor can it be that the EU undermines symbols of national identity, like (in Ireland’s case) non-alignment, prohibited abortion, and low corporate taxes, as Ireland has opt-outs on the first two and tax decisions require unanimity in the Council.
  • Perception, then, is everything.
  • Today is Friday the 13th.

Update: First reactions by AFOE, Jon Worth, Nosemonkey.