The Lisbon Treaty debate: the Hi-jack Continues

26 June, 2009

In the Irish Times this week, Brian Cowen wrote a Comment piece  entitled “Why we must deliver a resounding Yes to Lisbon”.  The content demonstrates yet again that in Ireland the debate has been hi-jacked by single-issue fanatics who are fixated on matters such as abortion or neutrality.  Nowhere in his contribution does Mr Cowen actually address the core issues covered by the Treaty, or deal with the concerns of the many non-fanatics,     who genuinely have a problem with aspects of the “European project”.

I strongly recommend that you take the time to read   The European Institutions as an Interest Group – The Dynamics of Ever-Closer Union  by the Institute of Economic Affairs .  The section on the Lisbon treaty is excellent (in fact all of it is excellent).  Here is an extract.

“….. the general empowering clause of Article 308 TEC is to be extended from common market matters to all EU policies. The new so-called ‘flexibility clause’ or ‘passerelle clause’ (Article 352 TFEU) reads as follows:

  1. If action by the Union should prove necessary, within the framework of the policies defined in the Treaties, to attain one of the objectives set out in the Treaties, and the Treaties have not provided the necessary powers, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, shall adopt the appropriate measures . . .
  2. . . . The Commission shall draw national Parliaments’ attention to proposals based on this article …

 For comparison, the corresponding current Article 308 TEC starts this way: ‘If action by the Community should prove necessary to attain, in the course of the operation of the common market, one of the objectives of the Community and the Treaties have not provided the necessary powers . . . ’

Whereas under the current treaty, the so-called ‘Kompetenz Kompetenz’ is limited to actions in the course of the operation of the common market, it would under the Lisbon Treaty apply to all actions within the framework of EU policies. Thus, the proposed amendment would deprive the national parliaments of any control over the exercise of any EU power granted within the framework of EU policies. All restrictions of EU powers within the various EU policy fields could be removed against the will of the national parliaments. They would lose all control over the general competencies that they share with the EU.”

I belive that the real issue that should concern people when considering the Lisbon Treaty is the continuing movement in power from national parliaments to the central institutions of the EU.  The Treaty will accelerate and facilitate that process, despite the lip-service it pays to the concept of subsidiarity.  What we should be debating is whether this is a good or a bad thing.  Unfortunately the crackpots have successfully established a completely different agenda, and the available time and energy of Mr Cowen’s government is being dissipated in dealing with that bogus agenda.








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