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 interests.

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 the function."

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 European circles.

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.

The Benelux strikes back against Blair

EU ambassadors met today in Brussels to begin working on the details of how to implement the Lisbon treaty. Following Ireland’s resounding yes vote it seems almost everyone in Brussels thinks even that most immovable of objects, Czech president Vaclav Klaus, can’t 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….

BENELUX document
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 prepared.

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 out below.

1. The European Council and its President

The European Council shall provide the impetus for the Union’s 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 Council’s capacity to take decisions on non-legislative questions.

Internal role
The Rules of Procedure of the European Council will determine how its agenda is set and how its Conclusions are adopted.

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 Union’s 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 presidency.
•    The President of the European Council will be consulted by the three member states that hold the presidency during this period in drafting the Council’s 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 Union’s work.

External role
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 Union’s 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 person
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 Union’s policies, who listens to the member states and the institutions, and who is sensitive to the institutional balance that corresponds to the Community method.

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 GAC’s 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 the Commission.

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 dossiers.
•    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 Council’s 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 Union’s external action on the basis of strategic guidelines laid down by the European Council and ensure that the Union’s action is consistent.  The HR is Vice-President of the Commission and chairs the FAC. He conducts the Union’s 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 Union’s behalf and puts forward the Union’s 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’ foreign ministers.

So as to guarantee the overall coherence of the Union’s action, the HR is responsible for acting in concert with the Union’s six-month rotating presidency, notably in drafting the FAC’s 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 FAC’s agenda:
•    The FAC is responsible for the whole of the European Union’s external action namely CFSP/CSDP;
•    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 HR’s request by a member of the Council.

The person
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 Union’s 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 Union’s 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 Union’s external relations, and ensuring the coherence of the Union’s 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 HR’s proposal, measures should be outlined from the beginning to foster the unity, coherence and effectiveness of the Union’s 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 EEAS’s functioning. It should be possible to modify the EEAS’s mandate if necessary on the basis of this evaluation.

The EEAS’s mandate should be defined on the basis of the following principles:
•    The EEAS’s 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 EEAS’s 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 be systematised.

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 EEAS’s 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.

EEAS staffing
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 EEAS’s 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 member states.

British Conservatives consider renegotiation of key EU policies

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 the BBC.

"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 increasingly discussed.

Unanimity needed

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 Parliament.

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 bedfellows.

How the Irish Can Save Civilization (Again)

Just say no to the Lisbon Treaty. Again.

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 unfair—a 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 Lisbon—and in the process, he hopes, forces the EU to choose a different path.


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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. But—hey, 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 document."

But the insult to democracy is more egregious, in his view, than simply asking the Irish to vote twice—that 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 Netherlands—not 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 continent.

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 president—the 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 citizens, legally."

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 officials.

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: "Friend—a 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."

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 project—which 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.