The Irish Struggle

4 September 2009

The Irish Struggle

On Friday I travel for the third time to Ireland in order to offer my help to our allies there in their struggle against a federal, neoliberal Europe. The Irish will be able, unlike we Dutch, to express their views on the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum, scheduled for October 2nd. Experts know that this treaty is in fact the same as the rejected European Constitution. Amendments to it are no more than cosmetic in nature.

by Harry van Bommel

Supporters of the Lisbon Treaty have an early lead in the polls. Despite this, the European Commission is growing nervous and has decided to spend more than a million euros in taxpayers' money in order to explain to the Irish that 'Lisbon' absolutely must be. Tough negotiations with the Irish government resulted in a guarantee that Irish interests, such as the country's military neutrality, would not be put in jeopardy when the treaty came into force. Remarkably enough, Premier Balkenende insists that these guarantees change absolutely nothing in the treaty. So what are these guarantees to the Irish worth? What's apparent is that exactly the same proposal is being put to them as was convincingly rejected last time.

Others with an interest in the outcome have also thrown themselves into the fight. Low-cost airline Ryanair is spending half a million euros in an attempt to save the Lisbon Treaty. The firm's boss, Michael O’Leary, said last week in Dublin that he had no faith that "incompetent politicians" could win the argument alone, singling out Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. Ryanair is not the first major corporation that has spoken out in favour of 'Lisbon'. The Irish division of computer chip giant Intel also recently announced that it would be campaigning for a 'yes'. This merely demonstrates once again that big corporations have great expectations of the Lisbon Treaty. Could this have something to do with the treaty's principle that the free market must be as extensive as possible within the EU?

A huge responsibility lies on Irish shoulders. The Irish are the only people allowed to have their say on this important step on the way to a federal Europe. That others have not been given this chance is idiotic. Involvement in Europe was exceptionally intense during the Dutch referendum of 2005, with participation in excess of 60%. In the elections for the European Parliament in June of this year, that enthusiasm was considerably dampened, and fewer than 40% of eligible voters turned out. The European Union can count on the support of the population only if the interests of this population, and not those of major corporations, are given centre stage. Furthermore everyone must be given his or her say. If not, they will fall away, en masse. This is something that the Irish, at least, understand.

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