Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lisbon 2 – Democracy EU-Style

No Means No!The vision of a unified Europe first articulated in the Schuman Declaration of May 9th 1950, to the effect that “the pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe”, is the vision that has guided the European project since its inception. We must be under no illusion that it is the consolidation of political power in a centralized, ‘free market’ based, neo-liberal Europe that the Eurocrat establishment has as its primary objective. All European treaties throughout the last 60 years have been directed at progressing towards the achievement of this objective. Essentially this is what Lisbon 1 was about. It is what Nice 1 and 2 were about. The particulars of the ‘assurances’ or ‘guarantees’ agreed at the EU summit of June 19th notwithstanding, this is what the coming Lisbon 2 is about also.

We will be made to vote again and again if needs be until we vote ‘right’, both literally and figuratively – until we vote to accept that the economic and political future of the millions of people who inhabit the EU area is best determined by an unelected Commission and a burgeoning and ever-more powerful EU bureaucracy. Such is ‘democracy’ EU-style. It is the epitome of bourgeois democracy – replete with the illusion of substance, yet in practice inherently anti-democratic in any real sense, and directed fundamentally at securing the interests of capital and its political servants.

EU RemovalsMost of the ‘assurances’ agreed by EU heads of State at the summit relate to issues (such as conscription, abortion and taxation etc.) that never formed part of the left opposition’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Nowhere in all of the campaigning against Lisbon that éirígí was involved in were these types of issues seriously articulated by the man and woman on the street. They do not reflect the grounds upon which working class people came out comprehensively against the Treaty. The CAEUC, of which éirígí is a member, based its opposition to Lisbon primarily upon the fact that the Treaty would undermine sovereignty, was fundamentally anti-worker, promoted greed over need and increased the militarization of Europe. Many of the 862,415 Irish citizens (over 53 per cent of the 26-county electorate) who voted against the Lisbon Treaty agreed with this analysis and opted to vote against the vision of Europe that was being proposed by those who deigned to tell them what was in their best interests, having already discarded the democratic determination of the peoples of both France and the Netherlands and denied all other European peoples the right to vote one way or the other. This is democracy EU-style.

As to what will be different this time? There is absolutely nothing about the assurances ‘secured’ by Cowen et al. on June 19th that will in any way, shape or form alter the substance of the Lisbon Treaty. Not one full stop, nor comma, of the Treaty will be altered. The fundamentals of Lisbon remain the same: it codifies neo-liberalism, further deepens the democratic deficit and progresses the Eurocrat plan for an EU super-state. The ‘assurances’ given with regard to the fear of creeping EU militarism are instructive in this regard. That the assurances can state that the 26-County government may “determine the nature and volume of its defence and security expenditure and the nature of its defence capabilities” at the same time as the text of the Lisbon Treaty obliges all signatories to commit to “progressively' improving (military) capabilities” highlights the contradiction between what is being said and what must be done. The EU bureaucracy is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. What the ‘assurances’ amount to is subterfuge and scaremongering. Subterfuge in that the ‘assurances’ are intended to give the impression of a changed Treaty while doing nothing of the sort in reality. When Brian Cowen states that: “We came here (to Brussels) with two aims. Ireland (sic) wanted firm legal guarantees. We got them. We wanted a commitment to a protocol. We got that. I am confident we now have a solid basis to go to the (sic) Irish people and to ask them again for their approval for Ireland (sic) to ratify the Treaty so that Europe can move on”, he is engaging in a display of shocking cynicism. He implies that the ‘assurances’ are something other than mere legal re-statements of aspects of the existing Treaty, which they are not.

Delivering the message on Hill 16The scaremongering is to be found in the subtext to all of this, which is as follows: “if we don’t vote yes, what is an already economically disastrous situation, will be compounded and exponentially made worse”. The implication is that accepting Lisbon will help rescue Ireland from the depths of the economic recession it finds itself in. Given the fact that neo-liberal ‘free’ market economics is what caused the global meltdown in the first place and the fact that the same neo-liberal agenda is codified in Lisbon, the proponents of a Yes vote are like quack doctors whose proposed cure for a disease is more disease.

We must resist the renewed attempt to have the Lisbon Treaty forced upon us as we did when we first defeated Lisbon against all odds in June 2008. On that occasion, the people of the Twenty-Six Counties defended the democratic rights of all of the peoples of Europe. Once again we must organise to reject the anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-citizen paradigm that the Lisbon Treaty represents. We must organise to reject the notion that a neo-liberal EU super-state can deliver the people of Europe anything than a continuation of denial of democracy, capitalist crisis and periodic economic meltdown. Our position with regard to Lisbon 1 was quite simply that saying NO to Lisbon was to say yes to the possibility of a democratic Europe, to the possible realisation of an “internationalism based upon the ideal of a free federation of free peoples”. It remains our position, no matter what ‘assurances’ emanate from Brussels or any other EU bourgeois institution.


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