The Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced today that Denmark will not hold a referendum on the treaty of Lisbon on the EU constitution, the so-called “Reform Treaty”. Denmark will ratify this treaty through a parliamentary decision. Mr Rasmussen’s Liberal Party and the Social Democrats have the necessary majority to ratify the treaty in parliament.
The Danish PM claims that Denmark’s sovereignty will not be affected by the Reform Treaty. The EU authorities in Brussels want the Reform Treaty signed on 13 December and then ratified, regardless of national democratic sentiment.
Everyone knows, however, that the Reform Treaty is almost identical to the European Constitution which was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands two years ago. Last month Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who chaired the Convention which drew up the rejected Constitution, wrote on his blog that the new Treaty of Lisbon and the Constitution are virtually the same.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen himself, comparing the Constitution to the Reform Treaty, told the paper Jyllands-Posten on 25 June 2007: “That which really matters – the core – is left.” There are persistent rumours that Mr Rasmussen has been offered a high EU position if he signs away his country’s independence.
With Denmark surrendering to Brussels, only the Irish are now able to save Europe’s honour. Last Sunday Prof. Anthony Coughlan of the Irish National Platform EU Research and Information Centre [e-mail] sent us the following text:
Ireland could well be the only EU country to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty/Renamed EU Constitutional Treaty which will be signed on Thursday next in Lisbon. This will be the case if the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents get away with their plan to impose the Constitution of a highly centralised and undemocratic Federal State on the peoples of Europe without allowing them any say on it.
This Treaty is a bad thing both for the EU and for its Member States. It is objectionable from the democratic standpoint. It would establish what is legally and politically quite a new European Union in the constitutional form of a supranational Federation – that is, a State.
The Treaty would reduce our national States to the status of provinces or regions of this European Federation. It would mean that our countries would be no longer be independent sovereign members of the international community of States, but would be reduced to the constitutional status of provinces or regions of the new Federal EU.
The Lisbon Treaty would make us all real citizens of this new EU State for the first time, rather than our being notional or honorary EU "citizens" as at present. That means that henceforth we would all have real dual citizenship, with our EU citizenship having primacy over our national citizenship, for EU law would be superior to national law in any case of conflict between the two.
It means also that we would owe the new Union which the Treaty would establish the normal citizens' duty of obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our own constitutions and laws. Our national constitutions would remain in being, but they would have become like the constitutions of California or New York inside the USA – subordinate to the US Federal Constitution.
Yet the peoples of the EU Member States are being given no direct say in this constitutional revolution both for the European Union itself and its individual Member States – although opinion polls across the EU show that most people want referendums on it.
You may be interested to know that the Irish referendum arises from the 1986 Crotty case, a constitutional action which was taken before the Irish Supreme Court by the late Raymond Crotty, the economist. He took that action when the Irish politicians of that time attempted to ratify the Single European Act Treaty by majority vote of the Irish Parliament. Crotty contended that this EU Treaty entailed a surrender of sovereignty which would lead to a diminution of his rights as an Irish citizen, and that only the Irish people themselves could agree to that. As they were the repositories of sovereignty under the Irish Constitution, only they could surrender it.
The country's Supreme Court agreed with this contention and decided that only the Irish people could ratify the SEA Treaty by referendum. The same position would apply to the Lisbon Treaty, which surrenders far more sovereignty than any previous EU Treaty. You may be interested to know that I can claim some personal responsibilty for enabling my fellow-countrymen to give their judgement on the latter Treaty, for it was I who had the honour of asking Raymond Crotty, who was a friend of mine, to take this case – a proposal which that great Irishman readily agreed to.
When Ireland has its referendum – probably in May or June 2008, although possibly earlier, Ireland's democrats will be looking to our fellow-democrats across the EU for expressions and demonstrations of solidarity during the weeks before we vote.
Ideally, these should take the form of meetings or demonstrations in your own countries congratulating the Irish people, perhaps through the local Irish Ambassador, at their being able to give their decision on this Treaty and urging Irish voters to show their solidarity with you, who are being denied a vote on it in your country, and especially with the peoples of France and Holland who voted No to the self-same EU Constitution in 2005.
The Irish media should be alerted to any such events, so that Irish voters may know about them. Messages of solidarity sent to the Irish newspapers, national and provincial, in the form of letters to the editor for example, could also be of real help during our referendum campaign. Or to individual Irish people whom you may know or who might be contactable by e-mail, through blogs and the electronic media.