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 Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?

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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 8:29 pm

Europe - Do the public know what they are voting for?

No, but they will find out soon enough and when they do they won't like it.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 8:31 pm

I am of the view that people aren't so stupid as they may appear to be when they answer questionnaires, and that they vote in the main on an intuitive basis informed by processing a lot of complex information that is difficult to verbalise or present in a lucid fashion. The Taoiseach hasn't read the Treaty, but it is my guess that he has an understanding of what he is supporting, and will not be in for many surprises if it is passed.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 8:42 pm

chekov wrote:
Zhou_Enlai wrote:
I missed that your first post of two; hence my repetition.
chekov wrote:
...if you accept my analysis, which I can substantiate in great detail, that the EU amounts to a super-state in the process of formation with aspirations to become a global power, then it is quite easy to demonstrate the basic truth of my claim since you can measure public attitudes towards that and they aren't very positive at all...
I am afraid that I cannot accept your analysis. I cannot on the one hand argue and accept that the EU project is too difficult to understand and then turn around on the other hand accept a one line explanation of what it is, i.e., "a super-state in the process of formation with aspirations to become a global power". To be honest, I think that you are a victim of the difficulties of the treaty themselves.

I don't think the EU project is too difficult to understand. I have, however, argued and demonstrated that it is not well understood. Since you've apparently missed my point entirely on such a simple matter of reading comprehension, I will leave it up to others to identify the victimhoods that I'm suffering from.
I was making points of my own rather than just reacting to your points. I was talking about what I have argued previously in the thread "The EU - A Polity Out of Control?" (don't know how to hyperlink to it). I don't think that the distinction of how difficult it is to understand matters goes to the nub of whether people would reject the project or the Lisbon Treaty or not. What matters is whether your analysis, that the EU is "a super-state in the process of formation with aspirations to become a global power", and people's antipathy to power seeking superstates is comprehensive enough to justify the statement that people would oppose the EU project if they understood it fully. I say your analysis is too narrow because even if your analysis is totally accurate it only deals with that aspect of the EU Project an not the other manifold aspects, a couple of which I highlighted.

In any event, I am happy to agree to disagree on this.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 8:45 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I am of the view that people aren't so stupid as they may appear to be when they answer questionnaires, and that they vote in the main on an intuitive basis informed by processing a lot of complex information that is difficult to verbalise or present in a lucid fashion. The Taoiseach hasn't read the Treaty, but it is my guess that he has an understanding of what he is supporting, and will not be in for many surprises if it is passed.

I think voters are intelligent. I think that Lisbon is complex and difficult to understand but I think people know that. If they vote and are happy with their vote then who is to gainsay them. Who is to gainsay the people who texted in to select Dustin for Eurovision either ?Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 9:08 pm

It also appears that our Ministers don't know what they are asking us to vote on.

http://www.libertas.org/content/view/284/1/
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 9:36 pm

I'm dipping in and out of the Sunday Times' special supplement in order to fully inform myself. Apparently we can leave the common foreign, security and defence strategy whenever we want. It seems to say so in Article 23E.

The ECB also gains a legal personality, wasn't this ever thus? That means we can sue the ECB! Other than that, the ECB's roles seem to remain un-changed.

The ending of the "European Communiities" concept is particularly prevalent with deletions of the terms "Communities", "European Community" and "the Community" throughout the text. What does this actually mean? Exactly what changes between a community of European states and a union of states.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Wed May 21, 2008 11:45 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
I'm dipping in and out of the Sunday Times' special supplement in order to fully inform myself. Apparently we can leave the common foreign, security and defence strategy whenever we want. It seems to say so in Article 23E.

The ECB also gains a legal personality, wasn't this ever thus? That means we can sue the ECB! Other than that, the ECB's roles seem to remain un-changed.

The ending of the "European Communiities" concept is particularly prevalent with deletions of the terms "Communities", "European Community" and "the Community" throughout the text. What does this actually mean? Exactly what changes between a community of European states and a union of states.

That is, of course, the subject of much paranoid speculation. I don't know what the official line is, but it doesn't seem dramatic to me. Most of it seems to be literally a tidying up, or rationalisation of the existing structure of pillars, Communities and Union. The intergovernmental bits of the EU/EC don't reside in the name or the
'identity', but in the structure of the Commission and the Council.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Fri May 23, 2008 2:31 am

WorldbyStorm wrote:

or if it were imposed and there was no way to leave the EU. But Lisbon has an exit process codified for the first time. .
It has? This is the first I heard of that. Please say where.
Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Fri May 23, 2008 3:08 am

eamo wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:

or if it were imposed and there was no way to leave the EU. But Lisbon has an exit process codified for the first time. .
It has? This is the first I heard of that. Please say where.
Thanks.

Article 50 TEU:

Quote :
Article 50
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

To deal with the usual query:

No, the second clause - "the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal" - does not mean the state that withdraws can only do so if the EU agrees. It means it can only negotiate something like the continuation of the use of the Euro if the EU agrees. The State can simply leave, but there is a 2-year "cooling-off period" where the EU treaties still apply.

Yes, it would require a referendum for us to leave - if for no other reason than to remove the various constitutional amendments that deal with the EU.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Fri May 23, 2008 3:56 am

Quote :
No, the second clause - "the Union shall negotiate and conclude an
agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its
withdrawal" - does not mean the state that withdraws can only do so if
the EU agrees. It means it can only negotiate something like the
continuation of the use of the Euro if the EU agrees

A strange example to use as I can't really imagine why you would leave a political union and still use their central bank to run your economy. It would amount to a voluntary self-demotion to the ranks of a vassal state - such as the ex-colonies of French Africa or Argentina before the economic collapse.

But, aside from the unlikely example, I agree with the broader point. There are a very large number of ways in which the EU and its member states are institutionally entangled. Any departure from the EU would require a whole lot of institutional disentanglement. Since the rules for internal trade, competition, and so on would be no longer relevant, the EU would have to negotiate agreements on such matters from scratch with the departing member. The outcome of such negotiations would, as do all such negotiations, depend primarily on the strength of the protagonists. The more bargaining chips you have to play with, the better the deal you're going to get.

This article doesn't actually introduce the right to secede - that was always implicitly there and it was always the case that the outcome of any secession attempt was going to depend on the balance of forces between the EU and those doing the departing. What it does is introduce the bare outlines of a process by which the remaining members will make decisions in the event of that particular event happening.

In the case of Ireland, it changes absolutely nothing in practice. If Ireland were to unilaterally secede, the outcome of the negotiations would inevitably lead to complete and utter economic devastation. The only non-catastrophic and remotely plausible way in which Ireland could secede would be as part of a breakaway block with Britain and maybe a few others, under the auspices of the yanks. Unless something huge changed, that would also likely lead to generalised economic ruination. For that reason, it's hugely unlikely to ever happen unless things really go pear shaped.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Fri May 23, 2008 4:38 am

Quote :
A strange example to use as I can't really imagine why you would leave
a political union and still use their central bank to run your economy.
It would amount to a voluntary self-demotion to the ranks of a vassal
state - such as the ex-colonies of French Africa or Argentina before
the economic collapse.

It's also counter to EU policy to allow non-EU members to use the euro - but it's a visible aspect of the EU with which everyone is familiar, and where there is probably the greatest understanding of how intricately entangled we are. As such, it's the best way I could think of of making the point without getting bogged down in "what's that? which bit does that mean? the who where now?"...
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Fri May 23, 2008 11:42 am

RTE are now sporting a new Lisbon Section

http://www.rte.ie/news/features/lisbontreaty/index.html

I got the Kathy Sinnott leaflet this morning. Looks scary.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:06 am

cookiemonster wrote:
Europe - Do the public know what they are voting for?
You must be joking. Charlie McCreevy was on the news tonight laughing and scoffing at the thought of opening the pages of it and of course he's right, no one in that room had read it if he was referring to the room I was in.

There's no way people know what they are voting for, worse I'm not sure if they care. One month before a referendum and leaflets begin to appear on a subject that is frighteningly big and scary for some people - purely out of lack of knowledge of it. All that information and opinion to suddenly digest for grannies and grandads everywhere ... Does anyone know what the opinion of the UK media is on Ireland's referendum, by the way?

I refuse to accept that it's a good enough line to say that people should educate themselves on it by downloading and flicking through it and do some reading etc. We should be having workshops on this thing every week for two years every friday evening. Get people out of the house during the winter just before PK comes on with the Late Late.

The French and Dutch rejected it - I assume the treaty was re-negotiated for them? Can't they do the same for us if we reject it? I also find it disturbing that the populations of major EU countries weren't consulted by referendum on it... it's just too disturbingly big and isn't as inclusive as it should be.

It could be a Tower of Babel waiting to happen..


Last edited by Auditor #9 on Sat May 24, 2008 10:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 6:02 am

Thats an interesting one Auditor.

As far as the No Campaign here are concerned - we are getting exactly the same treaty/constitution (your choice) as was put in front of the rest of Europe ( 2 declined - 15 ratified - by the way) in 2005.

Go figure!
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 6:34 am

Edo. This is another example of your side taking the people for fools. If I didn't know different I would think there were 17 referenda. Correct me if I am wrong but was it not defeated everyplace where the people had a vote on it.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 1:40 pm

Corrected youngdan. It was passed by referendum in Spain and Luxembourg; the Luxembourg referendum being held after its defeat in France and the Netherlands. Life is never that simple.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eu_constitution#Ratification
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:46 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
cookiemonster wrote:
Europe - Do the public know what they are voting for?
You must be joking. Charlie McCreevy was on the news tonight laughing and scoffing at the thought of opening the pages of it and of course he's right, no one in that room had read it if he was referring to the room I was in.

Er, didn't he also say that reading the consolidated version was OK, and that he was most of the way through that one?

Auditor #9 wrote:
There's no way people know what they are voting for, worse I'm not sure if they care. One month before a referendum and leaflets begin to appear on a subject that is frighteningly big and scary for some people - purely out of lack of knowledge of it. All that information and opinion to suddenly digest for grannies and grandads everywhere ...

The "grannies and grandads" managed to vote on joining, on the SEA, on Amsterdam, on Maastricht, on Nice (twice). It is a mistake to think of the Irish electorate as unfamiliar with voting on international treaties - unlike the electorate in most other countries. They're also surprisingly good at producing coalition governments.

Auditor #9 wrote:
Does anyone know what the opinion of the UK media is on Ireland's referendum, by the way?

They think we should vote No...

Auditor #9 wrote:
I refuse to accept that it's a good enough line to say that people should educate themselves on it by downloading and flicking through it and do some reading etc. We should be having workshops on this thing every week for two years every friday evening. Get people out of the house during the winter just before PK comes on with the Late Late.

Sure. Mind you, judging by what I've seen during this debate, we should also have to have a couple of hours on how the EU works, and a couple more hours on how our government works and what the Constitution actually says. Maybe we should ask the EU to run regular workshops!?

Auditor #9 wrote:
The French and Dutch rejected it - I assume the treaty was re-negotiated for them? Can't they do the same for us if we reject it? I also find it disturbing that the populations of major EU countries weren't consulted by referendum on it... it's just too disturbingly big and isn't as inclusive as it should be.

Well, we should have rejected it first time if we wanted to be renegotiated for. However, if you read the White Paper, Ireland pressed for things to be kept, since it was felt that the institutional changes were a good deal first time round. From the White Paper:

Quote :
Throughout the negotiations, the Governmentís overriding approach was to ensure that the overall institutional balances, and, in particular, the interests of smaller Member States, should be adequately protected. At the same time, it recognised the need to achieve greater effectiveness. When the Reform Treaty was being drawn up, the Government attached special priority to retaining the institutional elements of the Constitutional Treaty which Ireland had been instrumental in devising during our 2004 Presidency.

The Government attached particular importance to the maintenance of absolute equality between the Member States in regard to the rotation of posts in the Commission. This goal was accomplished and represents an important achievement.

The Government accepted the creation of the post of President of the European Council, so long as this role was appropriately defined. It welcomed the emergence of the team Presidency concept. The Government also supported the establishment of the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It sees this as an important step towards greater coherence in the Unionís external profile. A good balance has been struck between the various dimensions of this post. On the definition of qualified majority voting, the Government is satisfied that Irelandís capacity to safeguard its interests will not be materially affected by the move to a double majority arrangement. It recognises the advantages of the new system in terms of clarity and the overall efficiency of decision-making. Decisions cannot be taken under the Reform Treaty unless they command genuine support from the majority of Member States representing a significant majority of the Unionís population. The Government sees the double majority system as an appropriate reflection of the distinctive nature of the Union which draws together in a unique manner both the States and the peoples of Europe.

Also of interest:

Quote :
From the beginning, Irelandís representatives played an active role in the Convention and worked to ensure that Irelandís particular views and concerns should be reflected in the outcome of the Conventionís work. Irelandís main concerns related to the institutional balance within the Union (between the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the European Parliament), and the equality of Member States with particular regard to the interests of the Unionís smaller states. The Government was also concerned to safeguard Irelandís common law legal system as well as our particular traditions in the defence and security policy areas. Taxation was another issue on which the Government was determined that Member States should retain their autonomy. 12. John Bruton TD, one of Irelandís parliamentary representatives, was a member of the Conventionís Praesidium or steering group, and chaired the working group on freedom, security and justice. The Irish Governmentís representative, Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche TD, was a leading member of the ďFriends of the Community MethodĒ group, which made a particular contribution to the Conventionís work on the Unionís institutions.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 7:19 pm

Thanks for that Ibis, very interesting. In the context of another thread here, this is a handy piece of wording:

Quote :
The Government was also concerned to safeguard...our particular traditions in the defence and security policy areas.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sat May 24, 2008 9:29 pm

Thanks for pointing that out 905. It says Romania voted as well.
This vote seems to be a race against time before more bad economic headlines hits the news. Reading posts elsewhere it seems resentment is rearing it's ugly but easily predicted head.
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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sun May 25, 2008 12:19 pm

Ibis thanks for taking the time to answer those questions above there again and I have a few more if you don't mind.

ibis wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
I refuse to accept that it's a good enough line to say that people should educate themselves on it by downloading and flicking through it and do some reading etc. We should be having workshops on this thing every week for two years every friday evening. Get people out of the house during the winter just before PK comes on with the Late Late.

Sure. Mind you, judging by what I've seen during this debate, we should also have to have a couple of hours on how the EU works, and a couple more hours on how our government works and what the Constitution actually says. Maybe we should ask the EU to run regular workshops!?

I read the Lisbon Treaty booklet from the Referendum Commission yesterday and it's excellent for the size of it - it explains a lot of the functioning of the EU as well and highlights key terms used throughout. It's a commendable introduction to it but I don't know how I would have read it without having queried the likes of yourself here or without having tried to follow some debates on p.ie on it or without having opened and at least started reading the Treaty.

It didn't stop me wondering if the reality might be more complex and require a lot more time: I believe that scenarios need to be imagined where the changes to the Treaty might have effect for us and then see how the Treaty might apply there. I don't know if this is done systematically somewhere but a lot of it will swell up during debates on here and especially p.ie and possibly not be presented correctly. Just a systematic series of what ifs in areas of defence and agriculture and tax. I'm not sure what else we seem to be worried about. I also picked up a SF leaflet but didn't go through why they want us to vote against it but will try later to put my hand on it.

On democracy: I've no doubt it should be taught in every county town on Friday night or Monday afternoon for an hour or whenever by the likes of yourself there. It would be a programme on our own constitution, on our own policy making and on EU policy making and governance and finally on world governance. I know a few people who have diplomas in international studies from UL who are on the dole and could do with being slipped a fifty of a Friday evening silent

The programme would loop around forever and would require compulsory attendance by a certain proportion of the locals (details worked out elsewhere later) who would have to bring a friend. People might have to donate something. There would be interactive and participatory teaching methods applied and people would have tea and coffee and biscuits and it would be modular and simple and would as I say loop forever so if you missed one bit... Because there are people who I was talking to yesterday who couldn't put their finger on a map of Poland in Europe not to mind list the institutions which are involved in governing it. However, as you say above, people are canny enough here when it comes to politics and shouldn't be underestimated. We have a tendency to know politics in our own way, Brian Crowley, Patricia McKenna, Marian Harkin, Pat Cox and Padraig Flynn are all politicians who have with their antics or otherwise, introduced us to some of the vocabulary of the EU institutions which is present in people's heads, however cursory. That can be built on.

We should also have local tv for democratic purposes but that's for another thread I'd say.

ibis wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
The French and Dutch rejected it - I assume the treaty was re-negotiated for them? Can't they do the same for us if we reject it? I also find it disturbing that the populations of major EU countries weren't consulted by referendum on it... it's just too disturbingly big and isn't as inclusive as it should be.

Well, we should have rejected it first time if we wanted to be renegotiated for. However, if you read the White Paper, Ireland pressed for things to be kept, since it was felt that the institutional changes were a good deal first time round. From the White Paper:
Where would I have heard about the White Paper on it? I was away for a while so maybe it happened around then. It's not only referenda which are important but it's also white and green papers isn't it? Is there a national heads up on these things from time to time? If there isn't should there be? Should the electorate actually be tested regularly randomly on political movements that are highly important so they might keep themselves up to speed on even a part of what's going on? If they fail the test then they are punished accordingly - they lose their dole benefits or they are moved from the lower to the higher tax bracket or their business and other property is appropriated and they are fined then imprisoned until they find out what's new. It would stimulate people to find out what's going on.

On the Dutch and French ones - what happened after the No votes there? Was the Treaty amended for them and they are expected to ratify it through parliament now or what or is it still outstanding for them. I suppose that question has relevance to give a context for the scenario where we vote No.

EDIT
In the 'Proposed Changes' section we are told that the EU will give more of a role to National Parliaments where each national parliament will have two votes - the Seanad and DŠil one each. In enough numbers, National Parliaments will have the power to get a proposal reviewed which sounds like it is like a function of our Seanad but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Seanad gets a vote in Europe too. What I'm getting from this is that the power and policy making and analysis is getting distributed better over the functioning members of democracies (TDs etc.) and taking it surplus Commissioners away and trying to use hitherto underpowered enough institutions like the Seanad. Given more thought you could see a lot more of a role being given to the Seanad as the proposed changes sound like they will hardly be interacting with the EU on a regular enough basis though they will have the power to do so.


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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sun May 25, 2008 12:34 pm

My gut feeling is that this time people are engaging more than ever before - perhaps my perception is over-influenced by contact with internet politicos, but that phenomenon is part of what is contributing to the level of discussion and understanding.

As the location of power shifts, there has been a time lag, but people will follow and redirect their attention in terms of scrutiny and involvement. Ganleys prediction of pan european parties is I think not so far off the mark. Pan european trade unionism is also likely to strengthen. I think the Brussels bureaucracy( acting with heads of governments) has been able to develop to some extent unchecked whilst substantial power and control still rested with national governments. As real power becomes more centralised, they may be in for a shock, as they will come under far more pressure from all directions and it will be interesting to see if the structures are able to accommodate it. I think not, and that there will be pressure for substantial reform.


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PostSubject: Re: Europe - Do the Public Know What they Are Voting For ?   Sun May 25, 2008 4:09 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Ibis thanks for taking the time to answer those questions above there again and I have a few more if you don't mind.

ibis wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
I refuse to accept that it's a good enough line to say that people should educate themselves on it by downloading and flicking through it and do some reading etc. We should be having workshops on this thing every week for two years every friday evening. Get people out of the house during the winter just before PK comes on with the Late Late.

Sure. Mind you, judging by what I've seen during this debate, we should also have to have a couple of hours on how the EU works, and a couple more hours on how our government works and what the Constitution actually says. Maybe we should ask the EU to run regular workshops!?

I read the Lisbon Treaty booklet from the Referendum Commission yesterday and it's excellent for the size of it - it explains a lot of the functioning of the EU as well and highlights key terms used throughout. It's a commendable introduction to it but I don't know how I would have read it without having queried the likes of yourself here or without having tried to follow some debates on p.ie on it or without having opened and at least started reading the Treaty.

It didn't stop me wondering if the reality might be more complex and require a lot more time: I believe that scenarios need to be imagined where the changes to the Treaty might have effect for us and then see how the Treaty might apply there. I don't know if this is done systematically somewhere but a lot of it will swell up during debates on here and especially p.ie and possibly not be presented correctly. Just a systematic series of what ifs in areas of defence and agriculture and tax. I'm not sure what else we seem to be worried about. I also picked up a SF leaflet but didn't go through why they want us to vote against it but will try later to put my hand on it.

Yes, the job of the Department of Foreign Affairs is to do exactly that kind of analysis. However, they don't publish their speculative scenarios - just their eventual analysis.

The reality will of course be more complicated, and the Treaty will require interpretation, which is where the No side is making much of its hay. However, it's possible to predict reasonably well how the different bits will be interpreted - and indeed, it's possible to state that some 'interpretations' are simply not possible.

Auditor #9 wrote:
On democracy: I've no doubt it should be taught in every county town on Friday night or Monday afternoon for an hour or whenever by the likes of yourself there. It would be a programme on our own constitution, on our own policy making and on EU policy making and governance and finally on world governance. I know a few people who have diplomas in international studies from UL who are on the dole and could do with being slipped a fifty of a Friday evening silent

The programme would loop around forever and would require compulsory attendance by a certain proportion of the locals (details worked out elsewhere later) who would have to bring a friend. People might have to donate something. There would be interactive and participatory teaching methods applied and people would have tea and coffee and biscuits and it would be modular and simple and would as I say loop forever so if you missed one bit... Because there are people who I was talking to yesterday who couldn't put their finger on a map of Poland in Europe not to mind list the institutions which are involved in governing it. However, as you say above, people are canny enough here when it comes to politics and shouldn't be underestimated. We have a tendency to know politics in our own way, Brian Crowley, Patricia McKenna, Marian Harkin, Pat Cox and Padraig Flynn are all politicians who have with their antics or otherwise, introduced us to some of the vocabulary of the EU institutions which is present in people's heads, however cursory. That can be built on.

We should also have local tv for democratic purposes but that's for another thread I'd say.

Hmm. 'Compulsory' will never work, and a compulsory programme would be massive. What I reckon would be feasible is to persuade the EU to fund such courses around the country.

Auditor #9 wrote:
ibis wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
The French and Dutch rejected it - I assume the treaty was re-negotiated for them? Can't they do the same for us if we reject it? I also find it disturbing that the populations of major EU countries weren't consulted by referendum on it... it's just too disturbingly big and isn't as inclusive as it should be.

Well, we should have rejected it first time if we wanted to be renegotiated for. However, if you read the White Paper, Ireland pressed for things to be kept, since it was felt that the institutional changes were a good deal first time round. From the White Paper:
Where would I have heard about the White Paper on it? I was away for a while so maybe it happened around then.

The White Paper was on one of the first sites out of the gate - www.reformtreaty.ie - which is actually by the Department of Foreign Affairs. It generated a good amount of heat when it came out, because the No side claim it's biased.

Auditor #9 wrote:
It's not only referenda which are important but it's also white and green papers isn't it? Is there a national heads up on these things from time to time? If there isn't should there be? Should the electorate actually be tested regularly randomly on political movements that are highly important so they might keep themselves up to speed on even a part of what's going on? If they fail the test then they are punished accordingly - they lose their dole benefits or they are moved from the lower to the higher tax bracket or their business and other property is appropriated and they are fined then imprisoned until they find out what's new. It would stimulate people to find out what's going on.

Again, while those ideas are tempting, the business of citizens isn't really government. I'm in favour of as much participation as possible (because I'm broadly/informally an anarchist), but I'm not in favour of enforced 'participation'. People have a right to say "no, you get on with it, that's what we pay you for".

Auditor #9 wrote:
On the Dutch and French ones - what happened after the No votes there? Was the Treaty amended for them and they are expected to ratify it through parliament now or what or is it still outstanding for them. I suppose that question has relevance to give a context for the scenario where we vote No.

They have both ratified it, I think - I know France has. What happened after the votes? Well, there was a 'pause for reflection':

DFA White Paper wrote:
(20)It was acknowledged, however, that citizens clearly continued to have concerns and worries about the Constitutional Treaty, and that a ďperiod of reflectionĒ on the situation was required in order to agree a way forward for the Union.
21. This marked the beginning of a two year process during which Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as citizenís groups played a role in considering how best the Unionís reform process could be advanced. In Ireland, the National Forum on Europe played a key role during the period of reflection in facilitating debate on the EUís future.
22. During this period of reflection it became clear that, among other concerns, the idea of a ďEuropean ConstitutionĒ had given rise to considerable misunderstanding and misgivings on the part of citizens, in particular as regards the relationship between the proposed new Constitutional Treaty and national constitutions.

In other words, they didn't go back to the drawing board, but they thought about what people objected to in the Constitution, and did their best to remove those elements. The Irish government pushed to have the institutional changes retained - which is why they haven't been shy about saying that the Treaty retains most of the Constitution.

Auditor #9 wrote:
EDIT
In the 'Proposed Changes' section we are told that the EU will give more of a role to National Parliaments where each national parliament will have two votes - the Seanad and DŠil one each. In enough numbers, National Parliaments will have the power to get a proposal reviewed which sounds like it is like a function of our Seanad but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Seanad gets a vote in Europe too. What I'm getting from this is that the power and policy making and analysis is getting distributed better over the functioning members of democracies (TDs etc.) and taking it surplus Commissioners away and trying to use hitherto underpowered enough institutions like the Seanad. Given more thought you could see a lot more of a role being given to the Seanad as the proposed changes sound like they will hardly be interacting with the EU on a regular enough basis though they will have the power to do so.

That kind of direction in this Treaty is what I like about it. There's actually a good deal of democratisation happening in it, with power over process being given to national parliaments as opposed to governments, and to the European Parliament rather than the Commission and Council. I should be very sorry to let this particular deal slip away.
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