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 A French View of Lisbon

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PostSubject: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:11 am

I have brought this post over from P.ie as it is one of the broader and more contemplative posts I have seen on the No side of the Lisbon debate. I know that Ibis has already taken issue with arnaud's statement, and may not want to repeat himself here, but I am hoping that discussion of the EU won't stop this time when the voting is over. This would mean a different type of discussion to the detailed scrutiny of texts of the past few weeks, and this might be as good a place to start as any. It is quite long and I have had to split it into two posts.


by arnaudherve Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:01 pm

Hi all, I am French and presently not involved in Ireland, so I hesitated a long time wether I should participate in your debates or not.

Well, anyway, here is a text I wrote for another website. If you don't have time, please don't bother to read it. Again, I don't know everything about Irish interests in this referendum.

-----------------------

Let’s be reasonable, let’s vote No

As public life across Europe becomes more politically correct every year, it is becoming more and more difficult to describe the coarseness, wiliness, the mixture of irrationality and lies of real-life historical strategies. It is also becoming « incorrect » to take time to displays how far international decisions can be absurd, so deeply absurd. All those things that seem so dignified now, and in fifty years will be described as reckless, last-resort and slightly ridiculous political moves.

You remember the Rome treaty, supposed to be the foundation of Europe in 1957? Nobody is telling you presently that you should be cautious about that, right? During this campaign in Ireland the general agreement is that such an old treaty shouldn’t be debated any more, right? That it is a decent, basic text that should be left to some academics in some history classes for specialists, and that as modern and responsible citizens you should concentrate on present practical issues.

Well, I can tell you a secret. Try to look on the Internet for videos of the signing of the Rome treaty. You will see decent gentlemen, all so poised in their elegant suits, signing the treaty in a large prestigious Italian building, as decent heads of States should. Take time to rewatch the hands of those gentlemen signing the common document. The secret is, only that precise page of the Treaty of Rome was printed. The rest of the document was blank. It was a blank, white, empty stack of paper. The poised gentlemen signed a treaty that was a fraud.

The rest of the document was blank because the Italian printer had had no time to print it. The Italian printer had had no time to print it because the ceremony had been organized in a rush. The ceremony had been organized in a rush because the organizers knew that Charles de Gaulle would soon come back to power in France, and would modify the evolution of Europe in a direction more favorable to sovereign States, less friendly to federalist plans. The organizers wanted to lock things up in emergency.

You have no idea of the number of historical events that took place, not as the dignified conclusion of a logical, lengthy, public and disinterested process, but as the rash move of tiny groups who wanted to prevent another group from doing something the very week after. History, real history is tactical. It is tactical AND chaotic.

Have a look at the text of the present Lisbon treaty. Look at all those protocols, those amendments, those tiny corrections. Doesn’t it look like a half-baked text, just something in preparation, that we should take time to perfect, or simply to write in a more decent, more readable manner?

During this campaign you, the Irish voters, will probably hear repeated efforts to convince you that the new Lisbon treaty embodies some sort of logic, some sort of competently planned future for Europe. The campaign will take place in a general atmosphere assuming this referendum is a normal, decent constitutional process for the Irish to express their will democratically.

The truth is, this new document is close to being illegal. We, the French, had been told that the Lisbon treaty was a « plan B » after our refusal of the Constitutional treaty in 2005. We had been told by our President that it was new, much better text. The phrase was « simplified treaty ». But when we read the text, we discovered that it was the same text we had refused in 2005, with only a few sentences changed, just enough to make it a new document from the formal point of view.

At the same time, we heard that our President was telling everybody in public meetings in Brussels and elsewhere, but not in front of us, that it was essential not to let the peoples decide by referendum this time, that it was necessary to pass it through parliamentary processes only in all countries, because renewed referendums would result in a renewed No almost everywhere.

The truth is, you the Irish are being used to justify a text that has been democratically refused elsewhere.

From the strictly formal point of view, it is a legal Irish referendum. But don’t you feel that in such conditions, it has something unhealthy, something twisted? You probably smelled a rat when you were asked to vote again after your democratic No to the Nice treaty in 2001. Well, this seems to be even worse.

You can be more or less favorable to Europe, more or less hostile, or somewhere in-between, depending on the precise subjects. But however, do you think it is healthy to confirm this tendency of passing treaties despite a growing insatisfaction, a growing defiance of the various populations? Don’t you think we are building something unstable, something even dangerous, that might sooner or later result in a collapse of our presently good international relationships?

The truth is, this treaty is unwise, and probably more than you can imagine. Let’s take a few examples.

Eurocrats now have that thing about « qualified majority vote » at the Council of European heads of States. Sounds good, in Eurotalk. But what is it, in reality? It is a future of power struggles between Members States. It is bigger States imposing their will against smaller States, through temporary alliances and much bad mood, conflict and a growing defiance.

But Europe was meant to be just the contrary. After centuries of war, the new European construction was meant to be the replacing of power struggles by the rule of law. That implied, either one State one vote at the level of governments, or at the level of European citizens, one citizen one vote with no more important or more neglectable nationalities.

A medium solution, in the federalist sense, was the supremacy of the European Parliament over the Brussels Commission and the Council of heads of States, with representatives according to the number of voters, regardless of nationalities. You will probably hear people in this campaign who will tell you that the powers of the European Parliament have been increased. But if you look into details, that institution remains a consultative body. It can say No, it can say No several times, but in the end this No will be overridden.

All institutions where civic society can say No, by the way, tend to be trapped into a maze where their No will be undermined, and eventually overridden. It is a « democratic construction » where only the consensus can rule, and where only one political opinion can wield power.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:12 am

Continued from the post above

by arnaudherve Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:01 pm

The modern Europe was meant for peace. And look! We now have to sign for an "increased military spending". The absurdity of this becomes clearer when you realize that it is always possible to organize military actions between some Member States whenever necessary. When you realize to what extent no military organization is necessary at all at the European level, then you understand that Europe is an exceptional opportunity to show the world the example of Nations of the same continent who renounce war and settle lastingly into cooperation.

Eurocrats push this absurdity even further by deciding there should be a new dignitary in charge of foreign affairs, which you could almost call sort of Secretary of State for war if you wish. They want to impose this new role, precisely in the field where we agree the less, in the very area where we are certain to see disagreement between Member States during the next decades, and as soon as the next war and peace decisions will occur.

Is that a correct evolution, is that proper constitutional thinking, imposing rigidity where we are certain to see the participants disagreeing? This is why I hope pro-European Irish, even the federalist Irish, could take some time to ponder whether we are really heading towards a stronger Europe, or a constitutional chaos.

This lost opportunity becomes even clearer when you realize that the new role to emphasize above any other was a European minister for transports, the one topic on which we are certain that Europeans will agree lastingly, and the one topic that is absolutely necessary for any kind of common economy, either social or free-trade oriented.

Many people will tell you that the debate is between a social or a free-trade oriented Europe. But I will tell you another secret. When you are elected, you of course come with the whole corpus of political preferences of your own party, your ideology if you wish, but when you rule you will meet a thing called historical circumstances. Historical circumstances are not ideologies, they are unexpected, they are heterogeneous, and when you are in charge you absolutely have to cope with them.

Let’s imagine you are the Mayor of Limerick. Well, if you’re the Mayor of Limerick, you can reasonably expect a loss or a gain of population in the decades to come. Such things happen, you never know. A factory that closes, another one that opens, no ideology will tell that for certain. Therefore it would be insane to include in the « constitution » of the city of Limerick a definite number of primary schools. If you decide a definite number of primary schools for Limerick, than, because historical circumstances will change despite what your ideology had told you, you will have to force some sort of "revolution", and overall turmoil, in order to adapt to reality, instead of smoothly passing a new decision in the Limerick city council, for something that is just practical, limited in scope, only common sense.

That is the problem with Europe now. There are just too many things that are being specified by treaties, that should remain modest, circumstantial laws, or mere technical decisions. Sincerely, what is the point of setting the « Guts, bladders and stomachs of animals (other than fish), whole and pieces thereof » or « Live trees and other plants; bulbs, roots and the like; cut flowers and ornamental foliage » in a treaty that is meant to last ? Will we have to summon a special summit of heads of States to change any line of that? What is the proper political logic in mixing within the same text such general abstract constitutional principles as « the Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation » and commercial details such as « Margarine, imitation lard and other prepared edible fats »? Seriously?

You are being told that the USA have chosen this or that economic policy, that we the Europeans should follow or refuse. But the truth is that the USA remain a REAL historical entity, that can pass topical reforms in a few weeks, in order to protect its self-interests, by just adapting with common sense to historical circumstances. Why then is there such a fixated emphasis, such an emergency on locking any tiny material detail you can think about, if not to prevent the Europeans to manage their own interests?

The truth is, Europe as it is conceived nowadays is not meant for Europe, but for implementing globalization regardless of European interests.

This is not a matter of more or less free trade, more or less social protection, more or less protectionism. It is a matter of saying what we want in global summits where the others know what they want. Eurocrats on the contrary are recruited according to their ideology that they are the spearhead of the building of a « global society ». The paramount example of which being Pascal Lamy, former commissioner for foreign trade, now head of the World Trade Organization, who continues to dream of a nationless unified global market. But that is wrong, just wrong. States on the global level continue to push their national interests. And there is no reasonable prospect that the USA, China or others will surrender their national interests in the decades to come.

In short, we are the only nice guys, trying to shake hands politely with all the tough guys on the block.

Global decisions are not necessarily evil, they might be indeed necessary. But they must take place at the global level. We are the Europeans, not the planet. A future good, reasonable, common sense European treaty should accept first the basic principle that Europe is meant for Europeans.

Let’s see the problem through a local, concrete example. In my own region of Brittany, we have that smaller town which is called Carhaix, and in Carhaix the government just announced this month that the hospital will be suppressed. No more local hospital. We are being told that the decision is necessary to comply with European budgetary principles. But just think about it: an emergency department that is moved further away from the population… Does that make sense? What is the economic theory that will support emergency departments to be moved further away, adding about one hour of transport for people in critical conditions? I thought there were moral political principles above economic theories. Such as health. For real people. In real places.

The city hosts a pop music festival, attracting two hundred thousand visitors every summer, so that, reasonably, you can expect a day with five or six emergency cases at the same time. And not only they are removing the emergency department, but they are building a helicopter port instead, in order to rush the patients to the next big town… where emergency departments are already full…

The other way round, concentrating resources, skilled staff and equipment in a single medical center can be a good idea, but for long-term pathologies, for which you can plan surgery, hosting and so on. But have you ever heard about common European plans to build better centers for rare pathologies? I wouldn’t mind coming to Ireland for surgery, being operated by a Danish doctor and a Polish nurse, if the results could be better. My organs are the same as the Irish, no doubt about that. But no, cooperation for the rare pathologies of the Europeans is not planned by the Lisbon treaty. It would seem to be a priority, but not for the Lisbon treaty.

There are high-brow moralistic political debates, where you are being told that you are some sort of xenophobe, or nationalist if you don’t support Europe as it is evolving now, but when you get back home you observe things which you cannot help thinking are wrong, just technically wrong.

The truth is, are the Eurocrats who frame the treaties so perfect, if what they do results in local changes that seem like nonsense, plain nonsense, that seem like losses without compensations ?

In 2001, you the Irish were told that it would be a Europe-wide catastrophy if the Nice treaty wasn’t signed. You finally voted for a modified text that suited your needs better, and nothing wrong happened. Now they tell you that the Nice treaty was so bad that it needs to be changed with an absolute necessity. In 2005, we the French were also told that civilization would collapse if the referendum « failed », as they said. But behold, the day after we voted No, the sun still rose in the morning, and we were able to go to work just as before.

This year, it’s up to you the Irish again. Don’t worry, don’t listen to bad omens. You are free, which entails the right to vote No without being condemned. We cannot accept a democracy where we are only allowed to vote Yes. The French, German, Dutch and others need the Irish to care about their own interests, just as I personally need my colleagues to care about their own household, so that I can continue to work with them on a long-term basis.

From many points of view, voting No might even seem better for the future of Europe, than committing ourselves in such rigid policies, not meant for future real circumstances. Therefore it is probably necessary, in the various national referendums that we hold, to always let the door half-opened for sincere European federalists, because those who are sincere, as years pass, will be more and more numerous to realize that Europe is heading the wrong way.

You know, when you are navigating a very large oil tanker to the Cork harbor, the route has to be perfect. Not half-perfect, just perfect. At least, you should keep the possibility to change direction and speed if you meet an obstacle. The Lisbon treaty is like that: not safe, not reactive, not adaptable, and poorly written. You might wish some sort of treaty for Europe, but it is very likely that voting No will force the Eurocrats to come up with better solutions.

Let’s take more time. Let’s reconsider our needs for the twenty-first century. Let’s vote No for the moment.


Arnaud HERVE, Brest, France
arnaudherve@gmail.com


Last edited by cactus flower on Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:35 am

From my response to Arnauld on p.ie:

arnaudherve wrote:
ibis wrote:
Parliament is not a consultative body under the co-decision procedure, but must agree to legislation for it to become law. If it does not agree to the legislation, the legislation does not become law.

Yes it will become law. The European parliament can say No several times, and in the end of the process that refusal can be neglected by the Brussels Commission. Hence my phrasing "consultative body".

To be more precise, it is constitutionally what is called a "High Chamber" or "Senate" or "House of Lords" or "Bundesrat" in various countries.

"Co-decision" in Eurotalk means that you decide but don't decide.

Sigh. I was hoping not to have to use this. This is the co-decision flowchart from europa:



I draw your attention to the highlighted areas - steps 14-15 and 27-28. Parliament rejects the proposed legislation, and it is not adopted. Every step where the legislation can be agreed requires the assent of Parliament . The only way a text can be adopted without being put back to the Parliament is where the amendments that the Parliament has said would make the Act acceptable are simply written into the legislation.

The European Parliament under the co-decision procedure is not a consultative body, but a body whose assent must be obtained to allow legislation to be adopted. Lisbon expends the co-decision procedure to cover 95% of EU legislation.

Arnauld, to put it bluntly, wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:46 am

A few things interested me in this post - this is one

Quote :
...this tendency of passing treaties despite a growing insatisfaction, a growing defiance of the various populations? Don’t you think we are building something unstable, something even dangerous, that might sooner or later result in a collapse of our presently good international relationships?

The European project patently is loved more by politicians than the people they represent. This gap in my view is dangerous, and should not be assumed to be the fault of a lazy or stupid public. I project

The disjunction between the EU as an entity evolved from a trade agreement and as a federal project is another thing that is expressed here.

The lack of a publicly shared vision for what all this regulation and relinquishment of national control is disturbing. Such big things being asked for such mundane inducements.

Pushing throught the Treaty for an EU for which there is no public enthusiasm I think would be a recipe for instability in the medium term.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:53 am

Your last post sums it all up Ibis as to why this treaty will fail.

People want simple answers to complicated issues - and if the answer is complicated then the immediate reaction is query it as hiding something.

I read your man Arnaulds post over on P.ie earlier - ok its not a wide-eyed crazies view and it is written very well - but when I see "Eurocrats" "Globalisation" etc etc and I pretty much know where they are coming from.

I was out postering this evening and I got stopped by a few people to ask about the treaty and I think I probably convinced a few to rethink and relook at it - however I dont have 30 minutes to listen and explain the treaty to every single voter.

Worsening economic news and payback for FF after last year are going to sink this treaty.

I agree with CF that the discussion over the EU shouldn't end after this campaign - I dont think it will - the ratification process will continue regardless of the Irelands result - when all 27 have had their say on this treaty - then the reaccessment will take place.

One thing that wont happen and I will put any money on this - there will not be another vote on this treaty -period. It will be interesting how things pan out - my bet is that enhanced co-operation will become the modus-operandi of the EU states for the forseeable future - on the base of everything agreed up to and including Nice - different nations will proceed ahead and get together on issues of which they have a mutual interest - how this will affect us when we wont have a seat at all these different groupings will be interesting to watch unfold.

Bar a miracle of lazarus proportions - the treaty is dead in the water.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:25 am

I think the post gives a feel of the randomness and directionlessness of much that goes on under the EU banner, and also the amount of work that deals with technical minutiae. But I am all in favour of the increased regulation of the environment that has come in to Ireland through the EU including the requirement for Environmental Impact Assessment, but that was generally a good practice methodological requirement - no harm in applying that Europe wide.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:25 am

It is an honour being quoted here. I am a 44 year old French living in the region of Brittany, which looks like Ireland in some lanscape and geopolitical aspects.

I have a PhD in English. During the 90s I tried to make a thesis in my local university about the influence of German romanticism on the Celtic revival, but I could not continue because my director was a Communist and wanted me to write a Marxist thesis, and also because our Labour party here controls the academic world, and prevents the employment of those who criticize the European treaties and European regionalization.

As far as politics are concerned I am not easily classifiable. I have a past of belonging to environmental groups and yet criticizing green positions for their unscientific irrationality. I am for instance involved in a local campaign against a lightrail project. I also participated to sovereignist movements, but could not stay because I found them not interested enough in cooperation with equivalent movements abroad. Indeed I tend to find the Scandinavian nations more interesting than my own. After the referendum I intend to post other articles for the Irish readership about the possible role of nations.

In 2004 I worked for a very short time as a parliamentary assistant in Brussels, but was almost immediately fired because [removed at moderator's request]. I am now working a a strategic advisor about green building for a local building company.

I think there are many concerns regarding Europe that we will be able to discuss here, and that the present treaty doesn't address them.

As for the technical issue raised by Ibis, since I don't have the necessary intelligence to follow the same thread on two different forums, if he allows me I will answer him on politics.ie


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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:24 am

Ardaudherve. Most of us post on both sites and some topics are better discussed on P.ie if they are very detailed. Other subjects I prefer to discuss here because even when we disagree it makes for a better chat as we are more familiar with everyone's opinion. Too bad about that lady MEP. Could you not get her drunk and give her one for The Gipper.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:17 am

arnaudherve wrote:
It is an honour being quoted here. I am a 44 year old French living in the region of Brittany, which looks like Ireland in some lanscape and geopolitical aspects.

I have a PhD in English. During the 90s I tried to make a thesis in my local university about the influence of German romanticism on the Celtic revival, but I could not continue because my director was a Communist and wanted me to write a Marxist thesis, and also because our Labour party here controls the academic world, and prevents the employment of those who criticize the European treaties and European regionalization.

As far as politics are concerned I am not easily classifiable. I have a past of belonging to environmental groups and yet criticizing green positions for their unscientific irrationality. I am for instance involved in a local campaign against a lightrail project. I also participated to sovereignist movements, but could not stay because I found them not interested enough in cooperation with equivalent movements abroad. Indeed I tend to find the Scandinavian nations more interesting than my own. After the referendum I intend to post other articles for the Irish readership about the possible role of nations.

In 2004 I worked for a very short time as a parliamentary assistant in Brussels, but was almost immediately fired because (removed at moderator's request). I am now working a a strategic advisor about green building for a local building company.

I think there are many concerns regarding Europe that we will be able to discuss here, and that the present treaty doesn't address them.

As for the technical issue raised by Ibis, since I don't have the necessary intelligence to follow the same thread on two different forums, if he allows me I will answer him on politics.ie

Hi Arnaudherve,

We have a link to politics.ie here so it will be no problem for people to follow the discussion with Ibis there. What is sovereignism?
I was in Brittany once and there was a quite strong Breton separatist/nationalist movement there - is that still the case?

I have some Welsh ancestry and I understand that we invaded Brittany after a fashion - apologies for that.

It can be hard in Ireland and in the UK to realise the extent to which political orientation can effect academic and work life in countries like France and Germany, although nepotism and favouritism is known here too.

Our Charter and Site rules are in the Welcome forum, and there is a message for you in the Signing in thread.


Last edited by cactus flower on Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:37 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to comply with previous posters amendment to own thread cf)
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:31 pm

cactus flower wrote:
What is sovereignism?

It is a doctrine according to which States should retain sovereignty over their own territory. It is much more rooted in rational legal thinking than nationalism.

In the case of Europe, it would mean that European institutions are only temporarily accepted by sovereign States, and there is no legal entity above those States.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:34 pm

arnaudherve wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
What is sovereignism?

It is a doctrine according to which States should retain sovereignty over their own territory. It is much more rooted in rational legal thinking than nationalism.

In the case of Europe, it would mean that European institutions are only temporarily accepted by sovereign States, and there is no legal entity above those States.

Perhaps their unwillingness to co-operate was related to their internal focus on the nation state ? Would sovereignists be in favour of the United Nations, International Courts and so on or not?
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:22 pm

arnaudherve wrote:
All institutions where civic society can say No, by the way, tend to be trapped into a maze where their No will be undermined, and eventually overridden. It is a « democratic construction » where only the consensus can rule, and where only one political opinion can wield power.

When I first glanced at this thread I though Arnaud's nom de plume was audanherve (oh the nerve) Very Happy

The above excerpt is an interesting point. The reality is The Councils of Europe rarely vote on anything. Everything is done by unanimity. That is one reason why Irish politicians are not too concerned about the QMV changes.


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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:29 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
arnaudherve wrote:
All institutions where civic society can say No, by the way, tend to be trapped into a maze where their No will be undermined, and eventually overridden. It is a « democratic construction » where only the consensus can rule, and where only one political opinion can wield power.

When I first glanced at this thread I though Arnaud's non de plume was audanherve (oh the nerve) Very Happy

The above excerpt is an interesting point. The reality is The Councils of Europe rarely vote on anything. Everything is done by unanimity. That is one reason why Irish politicians are not too concerned about the QMV changes.

Yes, this is excellent to see. A voice from afar is timely and welcome. I like the fact that we have someone from the Continent here to give the view of a European outsider looking in.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:41 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
arnaudherve wrote:
All institutions where civic society can say No, by the way, tend to be trapped into a maze where their No will be undermined, and eventually overridden. It is a « democratic construction » where only the consensus can rule, and where only one political opinion can wield power.

When I first glanced at this thread I though Arnaud's nom de plume was audanherve (oh the nerve) Very Happy

The above excerpt is an interesting point. The reality is The Councils of Europe rarely vote on anything. Everything is done by unanimity. That is one reason why Irish politicians are not too concerned about the QMV changes.

I linked a video to another thread here of such a decision being taken by the Council on computer software patenting law with Mary Harney in the chair. The adopted patent law was apparently defective but voted through without scrutiny by any National Parliament, in part because "We are all tired sitting here".
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:19 pm

Bon soir, Herve,

Could you tell us why exactly the French voted No to the constitution? There have been so many views here.

On the one hand, people are saying that the French were so involved in national issues that they used the Constitution as an opportunity to lodge a protest against the national government.

On the other hand we hear that sales of the constitution skyrocketed and that the majority of people made an informed decision based on their reading and engagement.

Obviously the truth lies somewhere within and outside of those reasons.

What's your experience or understanding of why the French voted against the Constitution?
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:20 am

Mainly, because they saw their social standards disappearing. They just wanted to have a job the next year. This is extremely clear from the local results. High income yuppies districts voted Yes, low income districts voted No.

And social decay is now touching all layers of population, including company executives. Not just the very uneducated. For two centuries, we are the first generation that doesn't reach the living standards of our parents.

They also saw all the well-off from right and left uniting in such an obvious manner, with a unanimous media propaganda, that they found that totally obnoxious and not credible.

Last, it was the first time that euroscepticism crossed the barrier of extreme-right and extreme-left groups, and the larger population felt it was ok and not xenophobic to say No.

We did have a huge national wave of meetings for critical readings of the text. Somehow, because we don't often have referendums, we saw our own future passing in front of us at last, and maybe for the last time, and we grabbed it as if there was no tomorrow.

The political energy at that time was fantastic. Routine came back a few days after.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:13 am

arnaudherve wrote:
Mainly, because they saw their social standards disappearing. They just wanted to have a job the next year. This is extremely clear from the local results. High income yuppies districts voted Yes, low income districts voted No.

And social decay is now touching all layers of population, including company executives. Not just the very uneducated. For two centuries, we are the first generation that doesn't reach the living standards of our parents.

They also saw all the well-off from right and left uniting in such an obvious manner, with a unanimous media propaganda, that they found that totally obnoxious and not credible.

Last, it was the first time that euroscepticism crossed the barrier of extreme-right and extreme-left groups, and the larger population felt it was ok and not xenophobic to say No.

We did have a huge national wave of meetings for critical readings of the text. Somehow, because we don't often have referendums, we saw our own future passing in front of us at last, and maybe for the last time, and we grabbed it as if there was no tomorrow.

The political energy at that time was fantastic. Routine came back a few days after.

And since routine came back, what efforts have been made to achieve what No voters thought should be achieved?
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:17 am

I'm kind of disappointed with that answer, Arnaud. I wanted to believe that the French might have been more engaged Europeans than we Irish are and had made a more solid attempt to come to grips with the issues and implications.

It bugs me that 30% of people here say that they have no idea what the treaty is about - there have been months of meetings and summaries and discussion documents. I can't say that I understand it all - but I wouldn't be putting myself in that grouping, if only because I've made some efforts towards understanding it. Maybe there should have been 100% of voters in that category; I doubt that many of the Yes or No supporters can say that they fully understand it either, it's just not that kind of document.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:22 am

Kate P wrote:
I'm kind of disappointed with that answer, Arnaud. I wanted to believe that the French might have been more engaged Europeans than we Irish are and had made a more solid attempt to come to grips with the issues and implications.

It bugs me that 30% of people here say that they have no idea what the treaty is about - there have been months of meetings and summaries and discussion documents. I can't say that I understand it all - but I wouldn't be putting myself in that grouping, if only because I've made some efforts towards understanding it. Maybe there should have been 100% of voters in that category; I doubt that many of the Yes or No supporters can say that they fully understand it either, it's just not that kind of document.

The world is not that kind of place.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:36 am

Arnaud. You are incorrect when you say that large countries will dominate small contries. The QMV arrangements have been specifically designed to ensure that a group of large countries cannot dominate the council.
Let me explain QMV as best I can. From 2014, a qualified majority
will be defined as at least 55% of the members of the council,
comprising at least 15 of them AND representing member states
comprising at least 65% of the population of the union.
Therefore Germany, France, Italy and
Spain cannot dominate. The total population of this group is approx. 243
million, this is only 50% of the population of the EU. This is way
under the 65% limit. Even if the UK and Greece were included in the
group it would not push it over the line.
Also your original post was too long, you should be able to get points across in less space. Life is too short!
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:34 am

Kate P wrote:
I'm kind of disappointed with that answer, Arnaud. I wanted to believe that the French might have been more engaged Europeans than we Irish are and had made a more solid attempt to come to grips with the issues and implications.

It bugs me that 30% of people here say that they have no idea what the treaty is about - there have been months of meetings and summaries and discussion documents. I can't say that I understand it all - but I wouldn't be putting myself in that grouping, if only because I've made some efforts towards understanding it. Maybe there should have been 100% of voters in that category; I doubt that many of the Yes or No supporters can say that they fully understand it either, it's just not that kind of document.

30% Kate? - having canvassed at least 3000 homes (at least - you guys know me well enough by now - Im not into BS or Spin) in the last 3 months and stood outside more shopping centres than any sane human being should be asked to undertake - I would say its closer to 70% who "dont understand the treaty"

This campaign - like previous campaigns - but this campaign more than any - has left me fundementally depressed about the entire democratic process.

Im not saying this because Im canvassing for a yes vote - IMO the No side will win this quite handsomely - Im reckoning at least 70%/30% unless there is some kind of miracle between now and the 12th.( if any of the No Fanatics are reading this and want to do a "cut and paste" to aid your spin elsewhere - take it out of context and I will hunt you down and spam you to cyberdeath Twisted Evil

out of 3000 approx homes

10 max - have mentioned anything to do with the treaty -brought up by the Yes or No side (neutrality,tax,QMV,commissioner, etc etc etc.

2000 - the economy, house prices, unemployment - the money in my pocket - fuck all to do with Lisbon - but that is the big issue guiding peoples view on Lisbon

900- immigration - enough said - didnt want to say to anybody that at the rate the Irish economy is heading for the rocks they would be aswell learning Polish themselves if they want to have a well paid private sector job in 5 years - becuase there will be nothing left here apart from unfinished grotesque constructions marring the landscape - and again its fuck all to do with the Lisbon Treaty - Yes the rotten heart of Irish racism (which is so prevalent in the states ,UK ,Austrailia and anywhere we have gone ) makes itself apparent - now I know why I avoid frequenting Irish Bars abroad.

50 -who actually understood what was going on and were in favour or the treaty by about 70/30 - tiny-but educated,travelled (have avoided Australia and NZ like the plague for the last 10 years) and well heeled for lack of a better word.

the rest simply didnt give a shit if the Sun stopped working tomorrow.

The point Im trying to make is - is it any fecking wonder the country is in the state it is - we live in a nation of total me-feiners - if they can even see their own noses - let alone beyond it - I would deem them cosmopolitian .

This should depress the living shit out of every politically aware person - everything will depend on how much money is in their personal pocket and the direction of the financial balance in their pocket - as to whether they will participate in the democratic process - let alone as to who they will vote for.

The whole Yes/No arguement is passing over the heads of at least 90% of the voting population of this nation - the No side will win this referendum - not because of the debate or their arguements - but purely because of the way the Financial winds are flowing. - Next year - if the economy shows signs of improving and inflation calms to any degree - FF will make significant gains - as to the next election - God knows

It should make depress the daylights out of anybody who believes politics and participation in Public life should mean more than "whats in it for me"

Im not being a snob here -but given the serious challenges that face the Human Race and this planet as a whole - Im massively reavaluating the merits of totalitarianism and dictatorship -the common good might be better served.

Bonne nuit mes Amis

Ed
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:16 am

Thats great news Edo. What comes accross from the yes posters is that they are wise and the plebs don't know what's good for them. When they don't agree with you you want a dictator to beat it into their thick skulls. Wait till you see the anger after the vote when the true economic picture has to be addressed by that crowd of fools who are sweeping it under the carpet for the moment.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:20 am

ibis wrote:
And since routine came back, what efforts have been made to achieve what No voters thought should be achieved?

Not much. I organized a meeting just after the referendum with two MEPs, one Dutch and one Swedish. My fellow local campaigners were so reluctant to meet Europeans of exactly the same opinion that I almost had to put a gun on their foreheads for the group to participate.

One anecdote: After the meeting they even left me on the pavement without a lift, 50 km away from home, in a rainy night. I had to call a girlfriend to get back. That's because another guy was called Arnaud and they'd heard that "Arnaud already left".

Art wrote:
You are incorrect when you say that large countries will dominate small contries.

You are right from the formal point of view, and assuming that you are in a Nation that will protect you, like Donegal can feel protected by Dublin now.

But even then if you are a remote region, you still have to shout loud in order not to be forgotten. If you are in Donegal you might still consider not losing your equal vote status with the Dublin area. With the econmy as it is now, the principles of "excellence centers" and so on, the diminution of territorial subsidies, you might find yourselves without all the interesting infrastructures and jobs very quickly...

Let's put it the other way: with QMV, Ireland's position can be overridden, even when defending a vital interest.

More profoundly, there is vice in QMV, in the sense that it uses the numbers in population to enhance the power of states' representatives. Deciding according to populations sizes means we function as an integrated nation, one citizen one vote. But States representatives are meant to push the interests of their state, not to melt into general interest.

In a virtuous European construction, leading to mutual trust, the numbers in population should be taken into account only in institutions where representatives lose their nationality, such as the European Parliament. One MEP one vote. It is also the case for European subsidies, formally distributed according to objective and not national criteria.

On the other hand, the only way to build confidence in a heads of states' meeting is the one state one vote principle.

As I see France, Germany and Britain now, they will enroll smaller countries in QMV, by rewards or threat.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:43 am

So at this stage you are saying, Arnaud, that in France, considerable apathy has set back in now towards discussion and analysis of the Treaty whereas there was a swell of enthusiasm around Referendum time? There has been a good bit of political interest here in the last three months from the ground up but there could be more and I don't understand why this intterest hasn't been nor isn't indulged more by our politicians. Fear of demogoguery perhaps?

There's a whole yawning gap in people's knowledge here on what the EU is and how it operates but that ignorance doesn't seem to have our politicians want to educate us at all in a concerted way which is creepy. Is it known why the European Constitution was rejected in the French referendum? It's my view that if this Constitution/Treaty should simply have been taught to people in classes on Friday nights as I've said before as there is considerable ignorance around it. I'm a reader but there's no way my interest in the subject is up to the level of silently putting my head into the likes of this of an evening, no way jose. This is a community document anyway and should be studied publicly with public classes on it, debate-style in some cases, where the public in small groups can ask general questions about the EU, questions about how local politics works, questions on how the specific article in question works. Prior to that, the Treaty itself should probably have been generated in the first place by interested parties and sectors of society - business, education, the political establishment, scientists, engineers, the health services - all at publicly-held meetings that anyone could attend.
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PostSubject: Re: A French View of Lisbon   Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:45 pm

youngdan wrote:
Thats great news Edo. What comes accross from the yes posters is that they are wise and the plebs don't know what's good for them. When they don't agree with you you want a dictator to beat it into their thick skulls. Wait till you see the anger after the vote when the true economic picture has to be addressed by that crowd of fools who are sweeping it under the carpet for the moment.

Yes YD - the pollsters who did the poll showing a massive swing to the No side this week - did a party political poll at the same time - it shows the main current government party up 2 at 42% - all the opposition parties are down.

You totally misintrepreted my post - my frustration is that the Lisbon treaty is being used as protest vote for domestic short term economic issues, regional and local issues - issues totally unconnected with the questions being asked.

With their anger sated this time around and if economic conditions stabilise - which they have every chance of doing - the ruling government will do very well in the next local elections.

The point I was trying to make is that the vast majority of our electorate vote over the condition of their personal pockets - period - The merits or demerits of the Lisbon Treaty can go hang - I would be saying exactly the same if the Yes campaign were winning this hands down aswell - it was a non-partisan comment on what I feel is a major major issue and given the many problems we have in our health services,environment and others that will require difficult complicated and possibly self sacrificing answers to - it does not bode well for possiblity of ever achieving common resolutions too.

Websites like this cater to the 2-5% of the electorate in this country who actually inform themselves and take their citizenship seriously - that was the main comment I was making - democracy may not be forever - most dictators come to power after the democratic systems collapses in a state of paralysis - mostly when the populist bribes and policies that are necessary to propel whatever faction into power - overcome the genuine good work and long term decision making required to keep that society functioning - the only democracy that has managed to function for more than 200 years was Athens - and that was built on the economics of slave labour.
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