Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Referendum in Ireland over the new EU fiscal treaty!

Last week Mr Eamon O’ Cuiv quit as a deputy leader for the opposition party in Ireland Fianna Fail, after a disagreement with the party’s leader Mr Martin over the new Treaty.

“To me, this whole issue is about the fundamental future of Ireland and I believe it’s much bigger than any one individual,” said O Cuiv. “Therefore, it would be impossible for me to stay as deputy leader and not have my heart and soul in what I would consider to be an absolutely fundamental decision that we have to make,” he noted

The disagreement came when he opposed the party’s line to support a YES vote on the referendum, as in his opinion it would be bad for Ireland! Others who oppose the treaty are starting their campaign, and they claim that this treaty is going to make small countries to be forced into austerity and recession for the benefit of the richer and bigger states that will have more control over the small ones. They claim that this treaty is unfair to the small countries and benefits again the bigger ones.

The debate is just heating up in Ireland. Again the NO side gets a head start!  They are starting to get organized and raise their voice before any arguments or campaigns begin from the supporters of this treaty!
Are those who oppose the treaty correct, is this treaty something bad for the small states? Or are they playing the populist nationalist card to gain votes, but in fact they want to protect the status quo and the sovereignty of their country because they feel that is the best thing or they want to protect the interests of some people/groups in their country?

Personally I am not 100% certain that this is the ideal solution myself, but I am pleased that at least we have any plans at all. You would think that after years in recession and one of the worst crisis of the past few decades, our leaders could do better than that. But knowing how things work in EU and Europe I am not surprised that we have another mash up again. As I said, it is better than nothing! With 27 national Governments and different interests, it is getting harder to reach a unanimous deal!

As for the referendum, well what can I say; I witnessed the last referendum about the Lisbon treaty in Dublin. Confusion, misinformation from both sides, threats, populist arguments and a very bad run campaign in the first run. Arguments from the YES side were urging people to vote YES "for jobs and stability" when the Treaty was not about jobs itself. On the other hand, the NO side pulled some very ridiculous arguments like the one that claimed that after the Lisbon Treaty the Irish children would be forced to join an EU army, abortion would be legalized and even microchips would implanted in the future generations!! None of those was included in the Treaty itself.

 People were definitely not adequately informed and a lot of them just voted NO because they were not happy with the quality of information, others because they wanted to get back at their Government for all the (then) recent scandals and some did not even bother voting. If it happens again, well we should brace ourselves for more turbulence; especially if external bodies (from the British conservatives but also from USA and other European eurosceptic groups) get involved just to cause problems.

British nationalist party UKIP already vowed to support the NO camp in Ireland during the referendum! Are we going to have another Lisbon Treaty mess?  In a recent poll the Irish voters back the treaty and the majority would vote YES, even though a quarter are still undecided. It will be certainly an interesting debate to watch!

The Treaty has some basic flaws of course, as again it just brushes the surface of the problems and it does not deal with the root of them and the faults that exist within the eurozone and the EU in general! Instead of pushing for real reforms within the eurozone and each state individually, it only puts in place rules about how much each state can borrow or how it will be punished if it breaks the rules. Yes it is a start, but it is not efficient! I am sure there will be a lot of favoritism and loopholes that certain states can find ways to escape punishment or bend the rules as it has been happening all this time. Especially when the Treaty is modeled after the values and economic traditions of the powerful and rich countries of Europe.

We need a real fiscal unity in Europe, we have one currency and one market, we need a single economy. Having laws and penalties for states breaking the rules is not enough; we need to place the foundations for a real and fully functioning European economy! But of course that requires many compromises mainly from the rich and established European powers.

If it was me I would vote yes, but only with the condition that it won’t stop to this treaty only. I would vote yes in trust that this is only the beginning and the first step. I do not like standing in the way of any move forward, even if it is a tiny one or a not so adequate one. It is better than what we got right now, as the times are dire I think that we need to keep moving, keep experimenting, keep trying solutions so that we can get Europe and its economy back on its feet again. But will the rich states accept any further reforms or they will try to preserve their interests, and  punishing the states who do not play by their rules is simply adequate for them?

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