We said "yes"
to this ?
16.10.2009 @ 17:29 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - While the United Nations Human
Rights Council on Friday endorsed a scorching report that
accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the
Jewish state's bombardment of the Gaza Strip at the turn
of the year, European countries on the council opposed
the resolution or abstained from the vote after heavy
diplomatic pressure from Tel Aviv.
A total of 25 states on the council backed a report
produced by a UN fact-finding team led by South African
judge Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of the
United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the
former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.The US and five
European countries opposed the resolution while eleven
mainly European and African states abstained. Britain
and France meanwhile declined to vote, not wanting to be
seen to be attacking Israel while at the same time not
wishing to be seen as ignoring the suffering Palestinians
underwent during Operation Cast Lead'.
In the last few days, Israel, which accuses the
document of being biased, has engaged in a furious round
of diplomacy attempting to win over the European states
that sit on the council to opposed the resolution. It is
understood that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown talked to
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for some time
this morning. Defence minister Ehud Barack spoke to the
foreign ministers of France, Britain, Spain and Norway
ahead of the vote and brought up the issue with Czech
Prime Minister Jan Fisher when he was in Prague."The
democratic nations of the world must understand that
adopting the report will cripple their ability to deal
with terror organizations, and terror in general,"
he told the ministers, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
On Thursday after meeting with Spanish leader Jose Luis
Zapatero, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
"Responsible nations have to vote against this
decision that supports terror and harms peace."
The resolution had urged an
endorsement of the report, which recommends prosecution
by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, should
Hamas and Israel fail to conduct their own investigations
into the events surrounding Israel's Operation Cast Lead.
The 575-page document now moves on to the UN General
Assembly and the Security Council, where it is likely
that the US will veto any resolution that seeks to refer
Israel to the International Criminal Court.
Seeking to persue
their own interests? - we cannot allow that
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso says a future permanent
president of the European Council must be able to stand
up to member states that seek to pursue their own
Speaking at a brainstorming session of European
heavyweights on Friday (9 October), Mr Barroso also
indicated that any holder of the new post set to
be created under the Lisbon Treaty - needs to have the
necessary skills to create unity within the body that
represents EU leaders.
"The job of the president is to deliver the
results of a European Council," he said. "Someone
who will fight to reach agreement in the European Council."
He added that the selected individual must also have a
good understanding of the "community method'"
but refused to be drawn on whether former UK Prime
Minister Tony Blair met these requirements.
Mr Blair has emerged as a frontrunner in recent days
following reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel
has been persuaded to swing behind the British candidate.
But a paper circulated by the Benelux countries this
week that seeks to limit the scope for the role has been
interpreted as an attempt to thwart Mr Blair's bid after
an unnamed Belgian diplomat was quoted in French daily Le
Monde as saying that the document showed that the former
British prime minister "is not best placed to occupy
Speaking on the sidelines of the Friday's meeting,
former commissioner Etienne Davignon told EUobserver that
Mr Blair was clearly not the right candidate.
While agreeing that the former Labour leader has a
sufficiently high profile to influence the European
Council, Mr Davignon said his British background
essentially ruled him out.
"Yes he is a big character but you can't do the
job if your member state is not in big EU policies [such
as EMU]," said the prominent industrialist, who
currently sits on the board of numerous cross-border
companies and is a key behind-the-scenes mover in
Lisbon not enough
While diplomats in Brussels this week have worked
overtime to lay down the exact role of the anticipated
European Council president, Mr Barroso said 2009 was a
perfect example of why such a post was needed.
So far this year, the Portuguese politician has had
the pleasure of working with no fewer than four holders
of the position.
In March the center-right government of former Czech
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek whose country held
the EU presidency at the time - fell following a vote of
no confidence in parliament.
The baton was subsequently picked up by the country's
eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus, who proceeded to
chair of a number of high-profile events such as an EU-Russia
summit, before the current caretaker Prime Minister Jan
Fischer stepped in. And now Sweden's prime minister,
Frederik Reinfeldt, is at the helm.
"No other institution, not even a football club,
has done that," said Mr Barroso.
While welcoming the recent Yes vote in the second
Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Barroso issued
a warning that its final ratification would not be enough
to help Europe tackle the important issues on the horizon.
"The Lisbon Treaty increases our ability to act
but nothing replaces the willingness of member states,"
he said, singling out social policy as a case in point.
The outbreak of the financial crisis last year and the
Commission's weak powers in the area of social policy
have seen member states opting to deal with the mounting
jobs crisis on a national basis.
"I tried to call an EU unemployment summit in
Prague at the start of the year but it was downgraded,"
said Mr Barroso.
strikes back against Blair
EU ambassadors met today in Brussels to begin working
on the details of how to implement the Lisbon treaty.
Following Irelands resounding yes vote it seems
almost everyone in Brussels thinks even that most
immovable of objects, Czech president Vaclav Klaus,
cant stop the eventual ratification of the treaty.
The most thorny issue that ambassadors are discussing is
the exact role and responsibilities of the new post of
president of the European Council. In my last post I mentioned the high
profile candidacy of former British prime minister Tony
Blair and how it could face stiff resistance from small
member states. Well, today I got a look at a paper
circulated to member states by the Benelux countries,
which surprise, surprise, calls for a restricted role for
the new Council president.
As one source explained the paper to me this new
position is not a president of Europe job, it is a
president of the council. Small states cannot stop
the Blair bandwagon alone but with a decision on the
Council president probably not due until the December
summit (due to the constitutional court delay in the
Czech Republic) there is plenty of time for a stop Blair
campaign to get rolling.
Here is the full text of the Benelux paper below
Implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon will make the European Union (EU)
more effective, more democratic and more transparent. It
will endow the EU with a single institutional framework,
which provides for the creation of a permanent President
of the European Council, a High Representative (HR) who
will preside over the Foreign Affairs Council and be Vice-President
of the European Commission, and of a European External
Action Service (EEAS).
Anticipating the entry into force of the Treaty of
Lisbon, we will have to adapt the rules governing the
functioning of the new legal framework with a view to
ensuring that it functions well. These new rules will be
reflected in the Rules of Procedure of the European
Council, the amended Rules of Procedure of the Council.
In addition, the decision establishing the EEAS should be
In the view of the BENELUX countries, it is more
necessary than ever to ensure, once the Treaty of Lisbon
has entered into force, the inclusive, orderly and
transparent nature of the decision-making process, and to
guarantee the maintenance of the Community method and the
institutional balance of the Union that have been the
basis of the success of European integration. To this end,
the BENELUX countries believe that the implementation of
the new measures should be based on the principles set
1. The European Council and its President
The European Council shall provide the impetus for the
Unions development and shall define general
political directions and priorities, whose transposition
into legislation takes place in the Council. Despite the
fact that the Treaty of Lisbon endows the European
Council with the status of an institution, the
legislative power remains the prerogative of the Council
and the European Parliament (EP). Nor does this
institutionalisation affect the Councils capacity
to take decisions on non-legislative questions.
The Rules of Procedure of the European Council will
determine how its agenda is set and how its Conclusions
The European Council meetings will continue to be
prepared by the General Affairs Council and the other
Council configurations through the usual preparatory
bodies, so as to ensure a transparent and inclusive
preparation of EU policies. The rotating six-month
presidency will thus play a primary role in helping to
ensure the coherence of the Unions policies.
To this end:
The rotating presidency will
report at the opening of each European Council on the
preparatory activities that have taken place in the
different Council formations.
After consultations with the
President of the Commission, with the head of state or
government of the rotating presidency, and with the High
Representative, the President of the European Council
will draw up a draft annotated agenda.
After consultations with the
President of the Commission, with the head of state or
government of the rotating presidency, and with the High
Representative, the President of the European Council
will draw up draft Conclusions and, as necessary, draft
decisions of the European Council.
The meetings of the European
Council will continue to be prepared by the General
Affairs Council; the annotated agenda, the draft
Conclusions and, as necessary, decisions of the European
Council will thus be submitted to the General Affairs
Council (see below).
If prevented from being present,
the President of the European Council will be replaced by
the head of state or government of the rotating
The President of the European
Council will be consulted by the three member states that
hold the presidency during this period in drafting the
Councils 18-month programme.
Regular meetings will take place
between the President of the European Council, the
President of the Commission and the head of state or
government of the rotating presidency, or their
representatives, so as to ensure the proper preparation
of decisions and the continuity of the Unions work.
The President of the European Council will also play a
role in representing the Union abroad. He will represent
the Union at the level and in the capacity that
correspond to his position, without prejudice to the
prerogatives of the High Representative, who will be
responsible for ensuring the coherence of the
Unions external action in matters falling under the
CFSP, and during bilateral and multilateral summits with
third countries (accompanied by the President of the
Commission in matters concerning the Commission). In
representing the Union, the President of the European
Council will put forward the priorities and general
political directions adopted by the European Council and
the decisions adopted to attain those objectives or
implement those orientations.
The President of the European Council must have the
stature of a head of state or government. He must be
someone who has demonstrated his commitment to the
European project and has developed a global vision of the
Unions policies, who listens to the member states
and the institutions, and who is sensitive to the
institutional balance that corresponds to the Community
2. The General Affairs Council
The current General Affairs and External Relations
Council (GAERC) will be divided into two Council
configurations: the General Affairs Council (GAC) and the
Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).
The GACs task is laid out in the Treaty: it
ensures consistency in the work of the different Council
configurations and prepares and ensures the follow-up to
meetings of the European Council, in liaison with the
President of the European Council and the President of
To this end:
It is responsible for the
overall coordination policies; for institutional matters
in a broad sense (i.e. including any questions that arise
concerning subsidiarity, Better Regulation, relations
with other institutions, etc.); for the financial
perspectives; for multilateral trade policies (for
instance, the WTO); for enlargement (although certain
decisions can be dealt with in the Foreign Affairs
Council see below); and for all horizontal
It shall draw up the annotated
agenda of the European Council on the basis of a proposal
submitted to it by the President of the European Council,
after consultation with the President of the Commission,
with the head of state or government of the rotating
presidency, and with the High Representative (see above).
It examines draft Conclusions
and other draft decisions of the European Council.
The Councils 18-month work
programme is submitted to it for approval.
Presence at/representation on the GAC
Each member state designates its own representative on
the GAC. Preferably the representative will be someone
whose position in its government will enable him/her to
fulfil the policy coordination task of GAC.
3. The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and the High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR)
The FAC shall elaborate the Unions external
action on the basis of strategic guidelines laid down by
the European Council and ensure that the Unions
action is consistent. The HR is Vice-President of
the Commission and chairs the FAC. He conducts the
Unions common foreign and security policy. Through
his proposals he contributes to the development of the
CFSP and CSDP (common security and defence policy). He is
assisted by the EEAS. In addition, he conducts political
dialogue with third countries on the Unions behalf
and puts forward the Unions positions in
international organisations and at international
conferences. Nevertheless, to ensure broad support for
the CFSP it is important to guarantee the responsibility,
involvement and visibility of the member states
So as to guarantee the overall coherence of the
Unions action, the HR is responsible for acting in
concert with the Unions six-month rotating
presidency, notably in drafting the FACs
provisional agenda. It should be recalled in this
connection that under article 30 of the Treaty on
European Union, any member state may refer to the Council
any matter relevant to the CFSP.
The HR may propose to the FAC that it appoints and
mandates a special representative.
With regard to the FACs agenda:
The FAC is responsible for the
whole of the European Unions external action namely
Trade issues with regard to
third countries shall be discussed and decided in the FAC
(while trade matters related to the WTO shall be treated
the GAC: see above).
Decisions with important foreign
policy implications, for instance the opening or
suspension of accession negotiations, can be dealt with
in the FAC at the request of a member state.
The FAC also deals with
development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
If the HR is not able to attend the FAC, the FAC will
be presided over at the HRs request by a member of
In addition to presiding over the FAC, the HR wears two
other hats. He is mandated by the Council to carry out
the CFSP/CSDP; and as Vice-President of the Commission,
he is responsible, within the Commission for external
relations and for the coordination of other aspects of
the Unions external action. Finally, he is in
charge of the EEAS. To ensure that the Union speaks with
a single voice through the HR the HR, the
President of the European Commission and the rotating
presidency will consult regularly, especially in times of
crisis. The HR must therefore have not only vast
experience of Community action in the framework of the
CFSP/CSDP and of the Unions external policy, but
also consensus-building skills.
4. The European External Action Service (EEAS)
The EEAS should enable the HR to successfully carry
out his chief mandates: conducting the CFSP/CSDP,
conducting (from his position in the Commission) the
Unions external relations, and ensuring the
coherence of the Unions external action. To this
end, certain services should be transferred from the
Council Secretariat and the Commission to the EEAS, and
effective coordination mechanisms should be established
for those services that remain under the authority of the
Commission or Council Secretariat.
Composition and mandate
The EEAS should be established step-by-step. At the same
time, its mandate should be clearly defined from the
outset and should indicate the final objective to be
attained at the end of the transition period, as quickly
as possible. It will also be necessary to agree the
different steps and the corresponding calendar. It will
be up to the HR to present a proposal for this purpose.
As part of the HRs proposal, measures should be
outlined from the beginning to foster the unity,
coherence and effectiveness of the Unions action.
With regard to the EU Delegations, we should begin
with several pilot projects, for example in Kabul, Addis
Ababa and New York, where there are currently two
separate Delegations (of the Council and the Commission)
existing alongside each other.
The decision establishing the EEAS should also include
a rendez-vous clause providing for an evaluation after
several years of the EEASs functioning. It should
be possible to modify the EEASs mandate if
necessary on the basis of this evaluation.
The EEASs mandate should be defined on the basis
of the following principles:
The EEASs geographical
scope is global. All the country desks of the Council
Secretariat and the Commission should be incorporated
into the EEAS, which will thus become a
decompartmentalised service (no duplication of Council
Secretariat and Commission country desks).
In the interests of the
coherence of external policy, some aspects of development
cooperation policy the country desks that
currently fall under DG Development should also be
incorporated into the EEAS, as the EEAS provides more
opportunities to carry out a better integrated European
policy (as in the case of the 3D approach). It should be
noted nevertheless that the specific goals of European
development cooperation policy, such as the eradication
of poverty, have been included in the Treaty, where they
are presented as objectives of the Union.
Finally, a certain number of
themes such as civilian missions, human rights and non-proliferation
should be part of the mandate of the EEAS.
It is not expedient to include
enlargement (and the programme planning of the Instrument
for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)) in the EEASs
remit, as accession negotiations are conducted
exclusively by the Commission.
The same applies to trade policy.
Cooperation between the EEAS and DG Trade should however
With regard to responsibility for Community funds and
programmes, a mixed model may be advisable:
The HR is responsible for
planning the financing of the Neighbourhood Programme,
the Instrument for Stability, the European Instrument for
Democracy and Human Rights, and the CFSP budget.
The Commissioner for Development
(and DG Development), working closely with the HR, will
be responsible for the European Development Funds and
Development Cooperation Instrument. AidCo/EuropeAid and
ECHO will be charged with implementation.
The EEAS will support programme
planning by the HR and Commissioner for Development.
Legal status of the EEAS
As the HR, and thus the EEAS, will be responsible for
budgetary and personnel matters, the EEAS will need a
legal status providing it with functional legal
personality so that it has sufficient autonomy. This
legal personality should also give it the capacity to act
as necessary to carry out the tasks included in its
mandate. Ideally the EEAS should be financed from the EU
budget, within the ceiling set by the financial
perspectives for 2007-2013, by means of a separate budget
line (under administration, category 5) that underlines
the EEASs sui generis character in relation to the
Commission and the Council. The EEAS should in fact be a
sui generis service, linked to both the Council
Secretariat and the Commission without falling under
either of these institutions.
As soon as the HR begins work, he should have a support
team made up of officials from the Council Secretariat
and the Commission as well as a limited number of
diplomats of the member states. This team will see to the
establishment of the EEAS. A specially designated
individual should be in charge of the organisational and
financial aspects of the EEASs creation.
At the end of the transition period, the EEAS should
consist in equivalent parts of officials of the Council
Secretariat, officials of the Commission, and staff
seconded from the national diplomatic services of the
British Conservatives consider renegotiation of key
The British Conservatives have
difficulty defining their position on the EU (Photo:
Today @ 09:21 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The British Conservatives'
notoriously tortuous relationship with the European Union
came to the fore once again on Monday as the party
appeared to back away from the idea of holding a
referendum on the EU's planned treaty to trying to
renegotiate specific policy areas.
"We think that the social and employment
legislation, we think that's an area that ought to be
determined nationally rather than at the European level.
There are many things in the Lisbon Treaty - giving more
power over home affairs and justice - that we don't think
is right," Conservative leader David Cameron told
"We think Lisbon, the problem with it, is that it's
taking powers away from the nation states, centralising
them in Europe. We don't think that's the right approach."
The Conservatives, holding a four-day long party
conference in the northern city of Manchester, are trying
to find their way to a policy on Europe that will satisfy
hardline opponents of the EU but not completely alienate
other member states in the 27 nation Union.
The issue has come to a head due to Ireland's approval
of the Lisbon Treaty on Friday (2 October) making it more
likely that the new rules will come into place at the
beginning of next year.
The vote served to underline the vagueness of Mr
Cameron's policy on the issue. To date, he has said he
will hold a referendum on the treaty if it is not in
place when, as expected, the Conservatives are voted into
power in Britain's election next year.
But he has not been clear what he will do if it is
already in force in the EU.
Some party hardliners have been suggesting a
referendum should be held in any case, but some others
have shifted to saying that London should negotiate to
try to win certain powers back - an idea that is being
However, even re-negotiation of EU policies would be
fraught with difficulty. Mr Cameron would require the
agreement of 14 member states to open an
intergovernmental conference and any changes would have
to be agreed by all 27 states unanimously.
"I think if the Conservatives really were to try
and negotiate in these areas [employment and social
policy], then relations between Britain and the EU would
deteriorate very rapidly," Simon Tilford, from the
Centre for European Reform thinktank, told this website.
"It's hard to see what the Conservative
government pursuing that line could possibly achieve. It
would leave the country pretty isolated and pretty
impotent because there is no reason why concessions would
be made to the UK on those areas. There are already wide-ranging
opt-outs as it is, which cause considerable resentment
elsewhere in the EU," he added.
But, according to Mr Tilford, in order to keep the
most eurosceptic of the rank and file happy, Mr Cameron
is inevitably going to have to hold "some sort of
referendum on the EU" noting that "he is in
charge of a party that is now far more eurosceptic than
most people outside the UK are aware."
The feverish Conservative debate on its relations with
the EU is being watched with keen interest by the
business community in the country.
A strong factor for any centre-right party, businesses
have started to show increasing concern that the
Conservative's EU policies could isolate Britain when
they should be at the heart of European discussions in
areas such as financial services.
"The Conservatives do run risk that the business
community now gets off the fence," says Mr Tilford.
The Europe issue, which Mr Cameron had attempted not
to have dominate the party conference, will continue to
be a hot topic on Tuesday with two controversial right-wing
MEPs, from Poland and Latvia, due to speak at fringe
meetings of the party congress.
The euro deputies - Michal Kaminski from Poland's Law
and Justice Party and Roberts Zile from Latvia's hard-right
Fatherland and Freedom Party - are the Tories' political
colleagues in a new anti-federalist group in the European
The Conservatives have faced strong criticism in parts
of the British press who have questioned whether either
the strongly Catholic, socially conservative Polish party
or the nationalist Latvian party make suitable political
How the Irish Can Save Civilization (Again)
Just say no to the Lisbon Treaty.
In three weeks' time, Ireland will, for a moment, hold
the fate of Europe in its hands. Through a quirk of Irish
constitutional procedure, on Oct. 2 the Republic of
Ireland will be the only European Union nation to hold a
referendum on a treaty to revamp how the EU, home to half
a billion people, does business. The Lisbon Treaty,
therefore, will stand or fall on the votes of perhaps one
and a half million Irishmen and women.
From the perspective of Brussels, this is grossly
unfaira miscarriage of democracy masquerading as
democracy. The Irish have stymied the denizens of
Brussels' European Quarter before, most recently the
first time they voted against the Lisbon Treaty last year.
Back then, the establishment in Brussels blamed one
man above all for the defeat. His name is Declan Ganley.
He was one of the driving forces behind the No campaign
the last time around, and he's back to do it again. Your
correspondent recently sat down with him to find out what
he's fighting for in trying to see to it that Ireland
once again votes No to Lisbonand in the process, he
hopes, forces the EU to choose a different path.
View Full Image
I put it to Mr. Ganley, an impeccably dressed, balding
Irishman of 42, that from Brussels, this whole referendum
looks profoundly unjust. Why should 1.5 million Irish
voters get the opportunity to hold back the progress of
500 million citizens of Europe?
"I would look at it a very different way,"
he shoots back. "It's profoundly undemocratic to
walk all over democracy. . . The Irish people had a vote
on the Lisbon Treaty. They voted no. A higher percentage
of the electorate voted no than voted for Barack Obama in
the United States of America. No one's suggesting he
should run for re-election next month. Buthey,
presto!15 months later we're being told to vote
again on exactly the same treaty." He taps the table
for emphasis: "Not one comma has changed in the
But the insult to democracy is more egregious, in his
view, than simply asking the Irish to vote
twicethat was already done to Ireland with the Nice
Treaty in 2002. In this case, it is not just the Irish
whose democratic prerogatives are being trampled, but the
French and the Dutch, among others, as well.
In 2005, France and the Netherlands each rejected the
proposed EU Constitution in referendums. Lisbon, Mr.
Ganley contends, "is the same treaty." What is
the evidence for that? "Well, first of all, the
people who drafted the European Constitution say it is.
Like [former French President Valéry] Giscard d'Estaing.
He called it the same document in a different envelope.
And having chaired the presidium that drafted the
Constitution, he would know." There's more. "He
also said in respect of the Lisbon Treaty that public
opinion would be led to adopt, without knowing it,
policies that we would never dare to present to them
directly. All of the earlier proposals for the new
Constitution will be in the new text, the Lisbon Treaty,
but will be hidden or disguised in some way. That's what
he said. And he's absolutely right. There is no law that
could be made under the European Constitution that cannot
be made under the Lisbon Treaty. None."
So in trying to ram the Lisbon Treaty through, the EU
is also undoing the democratic choice of the French and
Dutch electorates. "Millions of people in France, a
majority, voted No to this European Constitution. In the
Netherlands, millions of people did exactly the same
thing. When the Irish were asked the same question, they
voted no also. Those three times that it was presented to
an electorate, the people voted no." Far from
thwarting the will of those hundreds of millions of
fellow Europeans, then, the way Mr. Ganley sees it,
Ireland has a duty to them to uphold the results of those
earlier votes. Approving the treaty would be a betrayal
of those in France and the Netherlandsnot to
mention the millions of others who were never offered a
vote on the Constitution or Lisbon.
Mr. Ganley speaks in a low, measured tone, even when,
as he occasionally does, he slips into rhetorical bomb-throwing
mode. "Why," he asks, "when the French
voted no, the Dutch voted no and the Irish voted no, are
we still being force-fed the same formula? You don't have
to scratch your head and wonder about democracy in some
intellectualized, distant way and wonder, is there some
obscure threat to it." He adds, without raising his
voice, "This is manifest contempt for democracy. It
is a democracy-hating act. . . . This is so bold a power
grab as to be almost literally unbelievable."
The nature of the power grab that Mr. Ganley refers to
deserves some elaboration. What, exactly, is wrong with
the Lisbon Treaty itself? "The treaty is a product
and indeed enshrines a set of principles and a way of
governing the European Union that clearly shows no will
or intent for democracy," Mr. Ganley says. "You
will hear it discussed quietly across the dinner tables
in certain sections of Brussels and elsewhere that we're
entering into this post-democratic era, that democracy is
not the perfect mechanism or tool with which to deal with
the challenges of global this-that-or-the-other. This
idea of entering into some form of post-democracy is
dangerous. It's ill-advised. It's naďve."
The Lisbon Treaty, like the EU Constitution would have,
puts this idea of post-democracy into practice in a
number of concrete ways. The most striking is Article 48,
universally known by its French nickname, the passerelle
clause. It says that "with just intergovernmental
agreement, with no need of going back to the citizens
anywhere, they can make any change to this constitutional
document, adding any new powers, without having to
revisit an electorate anywhere," Mr. Ganley explains.
"Do you think they want to revisit an electorate
anywhere? Of course they don't." If the Irish vote
yes, in other words, Oct. 2 would mark the last time that
Brussels would ever have to bother giving voters a say on
what the EU does and how it does it. Ireland would have,
in effect, voted away the last vestige of European direct
democracy not just for itself, but for the entire
The passerelle clause is not the only evidence in the
treaty of a post-democratic mindset. "The other
thing it does," Mr. Ganley says, "is it creates
its own presidentthe president of the European
Council, commonly referred to as the president of the
European Union." This EU president, Mr. Ganley notes,
"will represent the European Union on the global
stage. This will be one of the two people that Henry
Kissiner would call, in answer to his famous question,
when I want to speak to Europe, who do I call? He's now
going to have a telephone number, a voice that speaks for
Europe, because that voice will have half a billion
The other person who would speak for Europe is the
"grandly named" High Representative for Foreign
and Security Affairs, the EU's foreign minister, in
effect. Mr. Ganley is, as he puts it, "cool with
that." But there is this: "Presumably they're
going to be speaking for me, right, because I'm a citizen,"
he says. "But I don't get to vote for or against
these people. So, who mandates them, if not me, as a
citizen, or you? Oh, so somebody who is how many places
removed from me selects from within one of their own.
They never have to debate with a competitor. I'm never
given a choice of, do you want Tom, Joe or Anne. I'm presented
with my president. Do I walk backward out of the room now?"
Just as a yes vote in Ireland would mean that future
expansions of the powers of the EU would never have to be
put to a popular vote, it would also mean that Europeans
would never get the opportunity to elect its highest
It's easy to see why Mr. Ganley has made himself
unpopular in Brussels. And yet, he avows, "I am a
committed European. I am not a euroskeptic, not in any
way, shape or form. I believe that Europe's future as
united is the only sensible way forward." It's just
that he fears that Europe, as it is presently constituted,
is setting itself up for a fall. "I'm very sure
about one thing," he says. "Which is, if it is
not built on a solid foundation of democracy and
accountability and transparency in governance, then it
will fail. And it's too valuable a project, and it has
cost too much in terms of blood and treasure, to create
an environment where this could happen."
The whole political dynamic in the European Union, he
argues, is outmoded. To talk of only euroskeptics and
europhiles actually serves the interests of the mandarins
in Brussels because it doesn't allow for the existence of
a loyal opposition or constructive dissent. But a loyal
opposition is precisely what Mr. Ganley hopes to create.
"What I've been saying since the beginning of the
last Lisbon campaign, it blows fuses in Brussels,"
he says. "They just can't process it. The system
crashes. They have to reboot every time because I don't
fit into the euroskeptic box." Their mentality, he
says, is "friend-enemy. Uh, no." And he points
to himself: "Frienda real friend, because I'm
telling you the truth. I'm telling you, you've got a
problem and we've got to fix it."
He adds, referring to the European establishment in
Brussels: "I've got news for them. This little
European citizen, along with millions of others in France,
the Netherlands and Ireland, have now said something to
them. And they can either carry on the way that they're
going, and fail, or they can listen to the people, engage
them, and bring them along with them."
Instead of a dense, almost unreadable treaty that
shuffles the deck chairs of the Berlaymont building in
Brussels, the Commission's headquarters, Mr. Ganley would
like to see a readable, 25-page document that provides
for the direct election of an EU president, greater
transparency in decision-making and a bigger voice for
the people of Europe. "We have to ask more of people,"
he says. But equally, "we have to trust people. They
talk about the democratic deficit. The deficit of trust
is a yawning gap right now in Europe. And the biggest
loss of trust has been between those that govern and the
people, not the other way around. What was it Bertolt
Brecht said? 'That the people have lost the confidence of
their government?' This is the identical mentality."
Still, for all this talk about democracy and higher
principles, the people of Ireland have their own
parochial concerns to consider as well. There's been a
lot of talk about how a No vote could hurt the Irish
economy in some way. And a number of big multinationals
in Ireland have called on the Irish to ratify the treaty
and let it go forward. Is Mr. Ganley putting his country
at risk by calling for a No vote?
He emphatically denies it. "The only people at
risk in the Lisbon Treaty are these elites in Brussels,"
he scoffs. "Somebody said last time that Ireland
would be the laughing stock of Europe if we voted no.
Well, we voted no, and actually these elites in Brussels
became the laughing stock of the people of Europe. That's
what I saw in the weeks that came afterwards." He
goes on: "The only people we risk annoying are a
bunch of unelected bureaucrats and what I call this
tyranny of mediocrity that we have across Europe."
What's more, he says, "the Irish have never been
afraid throughout history of asking the tough questions
and standing up for freedom and what was right against
much, much bigger opponents. In fact, we seem to revel in
It was easier to revel, however, when Ireland was
still enjoying a boom of historic proportions. Will the
Irish decide, this time around, that it is safer to keep
their heads down, and go along with the program? In Mr.
Ganley's view, this would be totally self-defeating. If
Ireland votes Yes, he says, "We're getting nothing
in return except to be patted on the head by some
mandarins and told we're good Europeans. Would we be
acting as good Europeans if we said yes to this?" He
thinks not. "If this question was asked of the
people of Europe, whether they wanted this constitution,
we know almost for sure that en masse they would vote no."
And yet, "We're almost literally being held hostage,
with a gun pointed to our head, and being told, if you
don't sign this thing, unspecified bad things will happen.
But what they're asking us to do is to sell out the rest
of the people of Europe."
And the whole European projectwhich he
supports"has to be about 'We, the people,'"
Mr. Ganley says. "It's not top-down, it's got to be
bottom-up. And the European Union right now is top-down.
It does not have the support of the mass of its people.
It does not have their engagement. They don't even know
what's going on. And it literally conducts its business
behind closed doors, and that has to stop and it has to
stop now." If Mr. Ganley has anything to say about
it, it will stop in three weeks, in a little country
called Ireland on the Atlantic periphery of Europe.
Mr. Carney, the editorial page editor of The
Wall Street Journal Europe, is the co-author of "Freedom,
Inc.," due out in October.