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Magda Hassan
08-02-2009, 09:33 AM
This election will be interesting to watch. I used to think the idea EU was a good thing but I am not so sure any more. It does seem very technocratic and undemocratic.

The triumph of technocracy
Against the Lisbon Treaty
On 2 October 2009, Ireland will vote in its second referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty), which is set to change the workings of the European Union (EU). There is an idea abroad, especially in North America, that the European Union represents a progressive alternative to U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism. This argument can be found in numerous books and has even been echoed in numerous left-leaning journals. However, according to this expert in international relations and diplomacy, nothing could be further from the truth and he tells us why.

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http://www.voltairenet.org/elements/transpix.gif http://www.voltairenet.org/local/cache-vignettes/L400xH286/LisbonBarroso-d0342.jpg (http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/jpg/LisbonBarroso.jpg)Josť Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission By Steve McGiffen
At the behest of the European Commission, the EUís powerful unelected executive, member state governments are busy dismantling welfare states, enhancing their military forces, enacting illiberal political measures and neoliberal economic policies, and expressing undisguised contempt for anyone who disagrees with them. The dissenters include the peoples of France, the Netherlands, and Ireland, all of whom have had the nerve to vote against the neoliberal version of European integration.
The Irish, given a second chance to get the answer right in a referendum scheduled for October 2, are currently being subjected to a tidal wave of pro-Lisbon Treaty propaganda financed from their own taxes. Not a word of the treaty has been changed as a result of their rejection of it. According to the EUís own rules, this refusal to amend the original should have killed the proposal. But the Commission has merely appended a number of non-legally binding interpretative declarations. The protocol containing these declarations openly states [1 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nb1)] that these declarations "will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon." The people of France and the Netherlands have been given no second chance, though the Lisbon Treaty is almost identical to the European Constitutional Treaty they rejected at the ballot box, in the Dutch case by a landslide.
The EUís much-vaunted successes are open to question, to say the least. Europe has indeed gone more than six decades without a major war, but whether or not this is a result of the European Union is impossible to say. A degree of economic integration, beginning in the 1950s with the European Coal and Steel Community, can almost certainly claim some of the credit. But building on the back of this integration a permanent, unquestionable, constitutionally established neoliberal economy is another matter. Like so many aspects of EU-style integration, the institutionalization of the misleadingly-named free market takes advantage of peopleís natural desire for peace and prosperity to build what is rapidly becoming a capitalist dystopia.
Undermining Social Ownership
The 2005 Directive on Services in the Internal Market, for example, has exposed almost all services to market-based competition. Despite assurances to the contrary, the EU is applying the directive across the board, making it increasingly difficult for local or national public authorities to provide services designed for people, rather than profit. Covering everything except transportation, financial services, certain services provided free of charge by the state, and those already covered by other directives, the Services Directive forbids member states from blocking operators if theyíve been authorized in any other member states. Despite claims from social democrats in the European Parliament, the Country of Origin Principle (COP) introduced by the Services Directive remains, in all its essentials, intact. The COP means that a company may register in one member state, operate in another, and follow the labor and environmental protection laws prevailing in its state of registration. A series of European Court of Justice rulings [2 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nb2)] have declared that the right to establish or operate a business takes precedence over the rights of labor unions or national governments to negotiate or fix rates of pay per trade, for example. In addition to undermining workersí rights, the Services Directive makes it illegal for governmental authorities at any level to favor local businesses, which makes any effective regional development plan impossible.
In the last decade the EU has used competition policy to undermine social ownership in sector after sector. Fully aware of the extent of public opposition to privatization of essential services, the European Commission claims neutrality on ownership structures yet passes measure after measure forcing socially-owned enterprises to compete in the capitalist market. This enables private corporations to cherry-pick profitable elements of sectors such as postal services, water, energy, and health care. The shareholders of these corporations then pick up the profits, while the taxpayer picks up the tab for essential but unprofitable services.
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The EUís malign policies are not limited to undermining both individual and social wages. The Common Agricultural Policy has ravaged Europeís countryside and handed agriculture en masse to corporate farmers. The Common Fisheries Policy has emptied the seas of fish, throwing families that in many cases have relied on the seaís bounty for generations of employment out of work. Trade and development policies have benefited EU-based corporations, with no thought given to the social, economic, and environmental consequences for developing countries.
Irish voters are also particularly concerned by the Lisbon Treatyís threat to the countryís neutrality since the treaty effectively would bring Ireland into a military alliance. EU defence policy, the institutional and constitutional basis of which will be hugely enhanced by the Lisbon Treaty, is based not on the real security needs of Europeís peoples, but on the interests of the biggest, most powerful member states and their corporations. The treaty will boost defense spending by all 27 member countries and will encourage the consolidation of European arms manufacturers so that they become more powerful and competitive global actors.
Not Popular, Not International
There has never been a single popular demonstration in favor of European integration. In what Gramsci (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci) called a "passive revolution," an elite, lacking popular support, is using legalistic devices to enforce its will. The "Lisbon Strategy" [3 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nb3)], with its absurd ambition to make the EUís economy the most competitive in the world by 2010, comes closest to admitting this. In this case, competitiveness equals efficiency, which equals profitability, with the final element serving as a justification for all manner of ills.
The EU is not an internationalist project at all. Internationalism is, as the name suggests, about cooperation among nations and peoples. The EU is, instead, a universalist project which seeks to impose universal values and universalized structures on a large group of countries with very different economies, histories, traditions, and constitutions. The values that underlie this instance of universalism are those of a hegemonic elite, an elite that has decided that the misnamed free market is a cornerstone of democracy, undermining the latter by transferring powers from elected to unelected institutions and drastically narrowing the policy space available to parliaments and national governments.
The Lisbon Treaty represents a further deepening of this corporate project. It would massively increase the voting power of big member states, more than doubling Germanyís to 17% while halving Irelandís to below one percent. It would give the EU the power, for the first time, to harmonize indirect taxes. It would remove the Irish governmentís right to propose and approve an EU commissioner. It would underline and enhance the precedence of EU law over national legislation, including national constitutions. It would abolish the national veto in 32 new policy areas and thus all but eliminate the power of national parliaments and any possibility of popular influence on decision-making. It would permit heads of state and government to add to the list of areas where policies can be adopted without unanimous approval, with no need for a new treaty. It would create a powerful new office of EU President, an office over which the electorates of the 27 member states would have no influence. And it would require [4 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nb4)] member states, including neutral Ireland, "progressively to improve their military capabilities" and to aid and assist other member states experiencing armed attack "by all the means in their power" [5 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nb5)].
If the Irish reject the Lisbon Treaty a second time, they will not be rejecting cooperation between European nations, but rather a specific vision of Europeís future that is tilted in favor of military and corporate power.

Attached documents

http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/jpg/european-union-flag.jpg (http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/AMENDMENTS_TO_THE_TREATY_ON_EUROPEAN_UNION_AND_TO_ THE_TREATY-2.pdf)

AMENDMENTS TO THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION AND TO THE TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY

(PDF - 139.3 kb)
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http://www.voltairenet.org/elements/transpix.gif Steve McGiffen is assistant professor of international relations at the American Graduate School of International Relations and Diplomacy in Paris, the editor of the EU-critical left website Spectrezine, and a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus. His latest book, co-authored with Member of the European Parliament Kartika Liotard, is Poisoned Spring: The EU and Water Privatisation. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poisoned-Spring-EU-Water-Privatisation/dp/0745327885)
Source: Foreign Policy in Focus


[1 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nh1)] The Lisbon Treaty and Ireland (http://ec.europa.eu/ireland/lisbon_treaty/lisbon_treaty_progress/index_en.htm)
[2 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nh2)] Predictable Poverty: The Inevitable Legacy of a Neo-Liberal Europe (http://www.spectrezine.org/europe/george8.htm), by Susan George, Spectrizine; 21 October 2008.
[3 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nh3)] Lisbon Strategy (http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/lisbon_strategy_en.htm)
[4 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nh4)] see attached document
[5 (http://www.voltairenet.org/article161415.html#nh5)] EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance For Global Domination (http://www.voltairenet.org/article159536.html), by Rick Rozoff, Voltaire Network; 2 April 2009

Damien Lloyd
08-02-2009, 01:44 PM
I think the Irish will stick to their guns (er.. no pun intended) and vote against the Lisbon treaty again. But we will never know because I have no doubt that the vote will this time be rigged.

Peter Presland
08-02-2009, 03:59 PM
I think the Irish will stick to their guns (er.. no pun intended) and vote against the Lisbon treaty again.
I'd like to think so but I'm not so sure. The last 'NO' vote resulted from an unlikely alliance of reactionary anti-abortion/gay etc uber-faithful catholic loyalists, whipped into line from the pulpit and a mish-mash of mainly Left anti-war, pro-military-neutrality and libertarian interests. Sinn Fein was the only mainstream party opposed as were the minor (non Labour) socialists. The 'Progressive Democrats were in favour - though what on earth could possibly be regarded as either progressive or democratic about the EU is beyond me.

That line up is more or less unchanged but there have been amendments offered aimed at taking the sting out of the Catholic anti-vote (ie the biggest anti-block). The only other real unknown is turnout. It was 53% last time. My family contacts report cynicism and apathy in equal measure. However, my guess the church has been bought off and those whipped into line last time will probably be left to their own devices and either abstain or change sides. The Government are keeping dead quiet but I'd be surprised (and very pleasantly so) if they haven't got it more or less in the bag - and know it.

OTOH - the Irish are an endearingly bloody-minded lot when they sense they're being rail-roaded. Their economy is in an appalling state and likely to get steadily worse through October. That could just put a major anti-Establishment spanner in the works.

For Magda: Regardless of similar earlier EU promise, these days I am in favour of pretty well ANYTHING likely to put a spanner in the works of the converging Big-Three Western Establishment Elite projects - viz The US/UK, the EU and NATO. They are all an anti-democratic sham; combined they spell disaster for the entire planet. IMHO anyway.