An Irish Times poll asked 1000 people how would they would vote again on the Lisbon treaty if it was modified regarding “neutrality, abortion and taxation” also allowing Ireland to keep it’s EU commissioner. A misleading question; the EU said it will not modify the treaty as it would have to be ratified again by the other 26 national parliaments. The front page Irish Times article said, “when the ‘don’t knows’ are excluded this gives the Yes side 52.5 per cent, with the No side on 47.5 per cent. It compares to the referendum result in June of 53.4 per cent No and 46.6 per cent Yes.” If we go along and compare the 1000 people fantasy question poll to the real national democratic referendum on equal terms we see that there was a drop from 53.4% to 47.5% on the No side. A 5.9% difference, that is a 11% drop relative to the No side. If this poll is to be taken as “proof” it shows the Irish Times, Irish Government and the EU that their made up reasons to hold another referendum are exactly that and they know it. The poll actually shows 89% of the No side voted not due to “neutrality, abortion and taxation” issues.
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
by Anthony Coughlan – Secretary
Misleading nature of the question asked in Irish Times opinion poll on Lisbon … The planned deception envisaged for a Lisbon Two referendum becomes clearer
Any Lisbon referendum re-run must be on exactly the same Lisbon Treaty as the Irish people voted No to last June.
This crucial fact is concealed or glossed over in today’s Irish Times poll and in Foreign Minister Micheal Martin’s comments on it.
Not a jot or tittle – not a comma – of the text of Lisbon can be changed, for otherwise it would be legally a new Treaty which would have to go around all 27 EU States for ratification again.
The Declarations referred to in the Opinion Poll question are different from Protocols in that they are not legally part of a Treaty. Declarations are political statements made by one State or several. They are not international agreements between States which are legally binding on them(See Irish White Paper definitions below).
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
Protocols are legally part of a Treaty. There will be no Protocols for Ireland over Lisbon, for that would be to reopen the Lisbon Treaty and would require all 27 EU States to ratify the new Protocol, which would in effect be a new Treaty
A Declaration or political commitment that every Member State would keep a national Commissioner under Lisbon does not require any change in the Lisbon Treaty, for the existing Lisbon text(Art.17.5 amended TEU) allows the 27 Member States to agree to such a step unanimously in 2014, if they decide at that time not to reduce the Commission by one-third, which Lisbon otherwise envisages.
Contrary to what the Irish Times poll misleadingly asked its interview sample, Lisbon does not need to be “modified” or changed in the slightest for these Declarations to be made or for a political commitment to be given that each EU State will keep one of its nationals on the EU Commission indefinitely.
The Irish Times opinion poll question was this: “If the Lisbon Treaty is modified to allow Ireland to retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation are clarified in special declarations, would you vote Yes or No in another referendum?”
What a less misleading Irish Times poll question would have been:
A Treaty modification is a Treaty change. Contrary to what the Irish Times question implies, Lisbon cannot be “modified” in any way, for any modification of the Treaty text would make it legally a new Treaty and different from the Lisbon Treaty which most EU States have already ratified, so that the whole ratification process would have to start again from scratch.
A more accurate and less misleading way of putting the opinion poll question would have been: “If the Lisbon Treaty is left legally unchanged but is accompanied by a promise that Ireland could retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation are clarified in non-legally binding Declarations, would you vote Yes or No?”
That question very likely would have given a rather different result.
The Irish Times opinion poll asked a leading question therefore, which was designed to give respondents the impression that Lisbon would be changed to take Ireland’s concerns into account, when that would not and cannot be done, short of abandoning the Treaty altogether and working out a better one.
Not modifying the Lisbon Treaty but modifying its presentation for a Lisbon Two:
Talk of “modifying” the Lisbon Treaty in the context of this opinion poll question is therefore to use a weasel-word. What Messrs Cowen and Martin envisage for Lisbon Two is not that the Lisbon Treaty would be modified, but that the presentation of it would be!
Lisbon Two would be presented differently from Lisbon One by means of these non-binding political Declarations and an accompanying political promise from the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents that every EU State can keep a Commissioner under Lisbon when in practical terms the same can happen under the Nice Treaty which currently rules in the EU.
This Irish Times opinion poll, like the profoundly flawed “research” on why people voted as they did in last June’s referendum which the Department of Foreign Affairs commissioned over a month after the result, will contribute to the elaborate scheme of deception of the Irish people that is currently being planned by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin and Iveagh House.
For they have not “respected” the Lisbon referendum result by acting upon the people’s democratic vote, despite their endlessly reiterated claims that they do respect it. If they respected the people’s decision they would have told the other EU States last June that Ireland could not and would not be ratifying the Treaty, in which case it could not come into force for anyone and the other States would have ceased their ratifications after a while, for there would have been no point in their continuing.
Instead Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said on RTE while the votes were still being counted on 13 June that “of course” the ratifications by other States would continue. Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the same thing to Commission President Barroso on the phone even before the referendum result was officially announced. Iveagh House has been planning a referendum re-run from the moment the tallies showed how the vote was going on the very morning of the count.
The Declarations envisaged as accompanying Lisbon Two will naturally be “solemn” and the political promise about everyone keeping a member on the European Commission will be clear – even though that can effectively be done under the present Nice Treaty also.
The hope is however that decorating the Lisbon Treaty with political cap and bells in this way will be sufficient to deceive the Irish public and media into thinking that the Lisbon Treaty of next October – the most likely date for a re-run – [but the EU wants March]will be different from the Lisbon Treaty of last June, when not a comma of the Treaty will be changed.
It will be exactly the same bad Treaty, which is not in Ireland’s interest or Europe’s interest and which the peoples of Europe do not want. The Lisbon Treaty and the Constitution of a profoundly undemocratic supranational European Federation which it embodies has now effectively been rejected in three national referendums – in France, the Netherlands and Ireland.
And so a year of mendacity and deception, of waste of time and energy by key elements of Ireland’s political class, and abuse and misrepresentation of No-side campaigners, is being prepared by Messrs Cowen and Martin and Iveagh House and those who agree with the course of folly they seem bent on.
A Declaration on neutrality:
Ireland already made the Seville Declaration of June 2002, which was used to pretend to the Irish voting public that the Nice Two referendum was different from Nice One, when no change had been made to the Nice Treaty at all. This was done at the European Council meeting in Seville a few months before the Nice Two referendum. The EU Prime Ministers and Presidents on the European Council made a corresponding Declaration on that occasion in response to the Irish Declaration(See the text of both Declarations below).
Ireland’s “National Declaration” – with the word “national” inserted and capital letters used to make it seem more important! – then “solemnly” accompanied Ireland’s ratification of the Nice Treaty after the Nice Two referendum result, s they were posted off to Rome where all EU treaties are kept by the Italian Government. The Declarations were not even attached to the official text of the Nice Treaty – as naturally they could not be, for that text had already been signed and ratified by most EU States, as is the case currently with Lisbon.
A similar charade and even more elaborate spoofery are now being planned to justify Lisbon Two.
If the Taoiseach must ignore democracy by giving in to EU pressures to keep the Treaty alive, he and his colleagues would do well to wait the almost certain advent to office of a Conservative Government in Britain inside 18 months – that Government being committed to putting Britain’s ratification of Lisbon “on ice”, holding a referendum on it in the UK and recommending a No vote to it.
This policy of the British Conservatives would be to counter Gordon Brown’s abandonment of Labour’s election promise to hold a UK referendum on what is effectively an EU Constitution.
That would give our fellow-countrymen in Northern Ireland a chance to vote on Lisbon also. It would make clear too that Ireland was not on its own on Lisbon.
Keeping a Commissioner for all EU States under either Nice or Lisbon:
It is now generally accepted in EU political circles that it is not politically practicable for Member States to lose their national Commissioner under either Nice or Lisbon. The current Nice Treaty requires the number of Commissioners to be fewer than the number of Member States from 2009, the extent of the reduction being unspecified but requiring unanimous agreement.
This legal provision of Nice can be abided by and each Member State can retain one of its nationals on the EU Commission by the expedient of reducing the number of Commissioners from the present 27 to 26 and permitting whoever holds the job of High Representative for EU Foreign and Security Policy – currently Spain’s Xavier Solana – to sit on the Commission and represent his or her country on it rather than have a formally titled Commissioner from that country. Then every EU State can in practice remain fully represented on the Commission under the current Nice Treaty, contrary to what various Lisbon proponents have suggested.
The real danger of Lisbon is that it removes Member States’ rights to decide WHO their Commissioner is, although most people are unaware of this:
The Lisbon Treaty provides that each Member State’s right to “propose” a Commissioner – and hence to insist if need be on its proposal being accepted as a condition for it accepting the proposals of others (Art.214 TEC) – would be replaced by a right to make “suggestions” only, for the incoming Commission President to decide (Art.17.7 TEU). Who the new Commission President is would be decided mainly by the votes of the Big States.
Retaining a national Commissioner for each State is therefore of small importance if EU Member Governments no longer have the final say in deciding who that Commissioner will be. This important change that would be made by Lisbon was not widely appreciated by voters in last summer’s referendum.
Ireland’s Referendum Commission glossed over this significant Lisbon amendment in the information material it sent to Irish voters by using the same word – “nominate” – for the pre-Lisbon and post-Lisbon situations – where a right to propose becomes a right to suggest – as if there was no difference, when this in fact would be an important change.
A commitment by the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents that each Member State would retain one of its nationals on the Commission is also compatible with introducing a system of junior and senior Commissioners in 2014, in which the Big States would fill the more important positions if they have to concede a Commissioner post for everyone.
RTE commentators on this morning’s Morning Ireland referred to the Lisbon Treaty being modified by means of “a codicil, a Protocol or a Declaration” as if these were all somehow similar. They are very different things in a Treaty context. It is important to know the difference between a Declaration and a Protocol if one is not to be taken in by the systematic attempt now being concerted to pretend to the Irish Public that the Lisbon Treaty will be changed to take account of their concerns in order to justify a second referendum here aimed at reversing the people’s decision of last June.
If Ireland as a society falls for spoofery of this kind, we would justifiably become the laughing stock of Europe. Future generations will surely wonder at our gullibility and what kind of political class and media could connive at such a thing.
If people vote Yes in Lisbon Two to what they voted No to in Lisbon One,they will only find out later they have been codded, when it will of course be too late.
A Declaration on taxation:
No political Declaration can alter the fact that Article 113 of the Lisbon-amended Treaty on the Functioning of the Union would allow the EU Court of Justice to decide that Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax constituted “a distortion of competition” in some future law-case if Lisbon should be ratified. For the Treaty adds this phrase to this Article. It does not do so for fun and no Declaration can remove it. Political Declarations would have absolutely no influence with the Court of Justice, whose job it is to interpret the Treaty’s legal text. Declarations and political promises would not be part of that.
A Declaration on abortion, the right to life and other human rights:
Nor can any Declaration by the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents prevent the EU Court of Justice from laying down what the rights of EU citizens are in future court cases in years and decades to come, once Lisbon would make us real EU citizens for the first time – as it does. In a post-Lisbon EU we Irish, along with 500 million other Europeans, would have rights and duties as EU citizens over and above our rights and duties as Irish citizens and the EU Court would interpret what they are.
Some EU citizens’ rights may well be incompatible with Irish citizens’ rights, as decided by the EU Court. It is the EU Court which would decide the respective scope of citizens’ rights at EU and national levels. Our rights as EU citizens would have primacy over our rights as national citizens in any case of conflict between the two – just as is the case in the US and German Federations, where citizens are citizens of both the local and Federal levels of these respective States and whose Constitutions parallel Lisbon in this important area of human and civil rights.
The difference between Declarations and Protocols:
The Government’s 2002 White Paper on the Nice Treaty and the Seville Declaratoion defines a Declaration and a Protocol as follows:
Protocol: Protocols are attached to the various Treaties and have exactly the same legal status as the Treaty itself. They usually relate to one particular aspect of Union activity.
Declaration: A declaration by all Member States or by some may be made in conjunction with a Treaty. This does not have legal force, but expresses the political intention of the signatory/signatories.
This White Paper also gives the texts of the Seville Declarations by Ireland and the European Council as follows
SEVILLE DECLARATIONS: NATIONAL DECLARATION BY IRELAND
1. Ireland reaffirms its attachment to the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which confers primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security upon the United Nations Security Council.
2. Ireland recalls its commitment to the common foreign and security policy of the European Union as set out in the Treaty on European Union, adopted at Maastricht, amended at Amsterdam and approved on each occasion by the Irish people through referendum.
3. Ireland confirms that its participation in the European Union’s common foreign and security policy does not prejudice its traditional policy of military neutrality. The Treaty on European Union makes clear that the Union’s security and defence policy shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.
4. In line with its traditional policy of military neutrality, Ireland is not bound by any mutual defence commitment. Nor is Ireland party to any plans to develop a European army. Indeed, the Nice European Council recognised that the development of the Union’s capacity to conduct humanitarian and crisis management tasks does not involve the establishment of a European army.
5. The Treaty on European Union specifies that any decision by the Union to move to a common defence would have to be taken by unanimous decision of the Member States and adopted in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The Government of Ireland have made a firm commitment to the people of Ireland, solemnised in this Declaration, that a referendum will be held in Ireland on the adoption of any such decision and on any future Treaty which would involve Ireland departing from its traditional policy of military neutrality.
6. Ireland reiterates that the participation of contingents of the Irish Defence Forces in overseas operations, including those carried out under the European security and defence policy, requires (a) the authorisation of the operation by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations, (b) the agreement of the Irish Government and (c) the approval of Dáil Éireann, in accordance with Irish law.
7. The situation set out in this Declaration would be unaffected by the entry into force of the Treaty of Nice. In the event of Ireland’s ratification of the Treaty of Nice, this Declaration will be associated with Ireland’s instrument of ratification.
21 June 2002
SEVILLE DECLARATIONS: DECLARATION OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
1. The European Council takes cognisance of the National Declaration of Ireland presented at its meeting in Seville on 21-22 June 2002. It notes that Ireland intends to associate its National Declaration with its act of ratification of the Treaty of Nice, should the people of Ireland in a referendum decide to accept the Treaty of Nice.
2. The European Council notes that the Treaty on European Union provides that any decision to move to a common defence shall be adopted in accordance with the respective constitutional requirements of the Member States
3. The European Council recalls that under the terms of the Treaty on European Union the policy of the Union shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States. Ireland has drawn attention, in this regard, to its traditional policy of military neutrality.
4. The European Council acknowledges that the Treaty on European Union does not impose any binding mutual defence commitments. Nor does the development of the Union’s capacity to conduct humanitarian and crisis management tasks involve the establishment of a European army.
5. The European Council confirms that the situation referred to in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 above would be unchanged by the entry into force of the Treaty of Nice.
6. The European Council recognises that, like all Member States of the Union, Ireland would retain the right, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Nice, to take its own sovereign decision, in accordance with its Constitution and its laws, on whether to commit military personnel to participate in any operation carried out under the European Security and Defence Policy. Ireland, in its national Statement, has clearly set out its position in this regard.
21 June 2001