The Wisdom of the Irish

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Last
year, those loveable Eurocrats at the EU Superstate-in-waiting decided
it was time to enlarge their borders and make it that little bit
more difficult for individual member states to influence future
policy making. So, they got together and drafted a document that
was content-free as far as liberty was concerned and called it the
“Nice Treaty”. That’s “nice” as in the playboy resort on the Riviera
in the South of France, not “nice” as in pleasant – anything
but pleasant (these "servants" of the people sure pick
some dingy places to meet).

Referendum

With
dutiful obedience, government after government ratified it. Then
it was the turn of the Irish to do as they were told. However, this
government was obliged to ask their citizens about it and held a
referendum. The Irish said “No!” by 54% to 45% and, as the Americans
are wont to say, kicked Eurocrat ass all the way back to Brussels.
Quite an intelligent bunch, these Irish folk. The sweat beads are
now forming on the brows of power-seeking politicians, as the Nice
Treaty will formally lapse if all 15 EU members do not ratify it
by the end of the year. For those interested, the Nice Treaty is
designed to open up the way for enlarged membership of the European
Union and has these main points:

  • Reweighting
    votes in the Council of Ministers
  • Increasing
    the ceiling on the European Parliament from 626 to 732 in 2004

  • Capping
    the size of the European Commission at 27
  • Extending
    majority voting on some issues (but not taxation and social
    policy)
  • Allowing
    groups of eight or more countries to forge ahead with closer
    co-operation in certain areas
  • Laying
    groundwork for rapid reaction force.

The
ultimate aim is a superpower of 27 member countries, making it potentially
more powerful than the USA but more socialist and diverse in its
culture than the USA. These two important differences will be its
eventual downfall.

The
keywords to Irish voters were “veto” and “enlargement” as Slovenia,
Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Estonia waited in
the wings for membership. The Irish (and others who were not given
the choice of a referendum) saw the danger here of firstly massive
wealth redistribution towards these poorer and more economically
unstable countries still coming out of the shadow of Communism.
Secondly, extension of majority voting would deny the Irish an assured
veto on issues sensitive to their culture and economy. The argument
being that ratifying the treaty would force Ireland to participate
in the EU’s 60,000-member Rapid Reaction Force, thus infringing
on the country’s traditional neutrality. The stakes are potentially
very high.

Democracy

That
was then, but this is now. You see, “No” was the wrong answer. The
correct answer was “Yes” as far as totalitarian Eurocrats were concerned.
So, later this year, another referendum is to be held asking the
same tedious question and the Irish are expected to conform. Let
us hope the Irish stick to their guns for if they do, the European
Union is heading into uncharted waters. Referenda have rejected
EU issues before, the Danes voted against the Maastricht Treaty
in 1992 but when forced to vote again one year later with various
sweeteners and opt-outs attached, they relented. The EU is obviously
hoping the Irish will swallow their proposed concessions on neutrality
and give them their toys back.

So
much for the glories of democracy, I thought to myself. When the
Statists have made their mind up, democracy can take a back seat.
In fact, democracy is shown up for what it really is, just an impotent
rubber stamp to the aggrandisements of the neo-politburo of Europe.
The political euphemism "The will of the people has spoken!"
is not the correct sound bite on such an anti-State occasion.

Corruption

Before
the Irish reconsider their answer, they should ruminate upon some
news items that came out of the Euroland recently. In a further
proof that democracy is the poodle of oligarchy in Euroland, the
President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, stated
that any future election of his post should be decided by suffrage
of the national parliaments and the European Parliament. In other
words, EU citizens are not allowed to have a say in this potent
political positioning. I think he must have had the rebel Irish
voters in mind when he concocted this piece of political horse-trading.

A
further and more worrying item is the whistle
blowing
of former chief accountant of the European Commission,
Marta Andreasen. Enron and WorldCom can take a distant back seat
here as the sacked Andreasen claimed that the commission’s treasury
department had not been audited for ten years and was open to massive
fraud and abuse. I think the operative phrase is "subject to
massive fraud" rather than "open to massive fraud".
I say that in the light of the resignation of the entire Commission
in 1999
over the abuse of expenses and this timely warning should come as
no surprise. With an annual budget of over $95 billion, who says
it is the CEOs of multinationals that are the paragons of corruption?

Secession

So
what about secession from a federal union of European nation states?
If the corruption and unaccountability reaches nauseating levels,
what is a member state to do? When the citizens tell their leaders
that "this is another fine mess you have gotten us into",
how do they get out? In mangling the words of somebody that was
not too keen on secession, is it written in the skies of Europe
that the free shall be slaves?

As
much as I scoured the Internet, I could find no reference to secession
rights of EU member states. I can only conclude that there is none
because we have not reached a stage of European integration that
demands a treaty that finally fuses EU nation-states into a federal
union. Such a treaty would be the EU equivalent of the US Constitution.

How
would such a secession clause be worded? For example, one study
suggests that a member state should, by a qualified majority vote
of their population, be able to leave the European federal constitution
to revert back to independence. However, should the political procedures
for the secession be precisely fixed in advance with a transition
period of a considerable length of time (e. g. 5 or 10 years) implemented?
Or should the notice period be set according to factors inherent
in the Member State itself such as size and economic factors? If
an EU member state fails to reach such a qualified majority, should
the next attempt be possible after 20 years or less (assuming the
Member State doesn't descend into civil war over it)? Such parameters
are open to discussion during the initial constitutional convention.

But
whatever the fine print may say, secession must be there if we ever
approach the undesirable threshold of Superstatedom. After all,
secession, or the threat of it for tactical purposes, represents
the ultimate tool through which the encroaching powers of a European
federal government might be checked. In the absence of the secession
sanction, the federal European government may, by overstepping its
constitutionally assigned limits, extract surplus value from the
citizenry almost at will, because there would exist no effective
means of escape.

Conclusion

If
the political class currently being wooed by the EU cannot see this
due to their intoxications, then they are consigning their progeny
to economic and social slavery. For if history teaches one thing,
it is this. All political institutions decay and corrupt with time,
and to be inextricably associated with such a huge entity when the
endgame is finally played out is a prospect I would not wish even
on my enemies’ descendants.

August
10 ,
2002

Roland
Watson [send him
mail
] writes from Edinburgh, Scotland. He now runs his own Christian
libertarian blog
.

Roland
Watson Archives

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