Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The EU go-slow

There's little real enthusiasm for the Lisbon vote and that's just how the EU wants it. They want the voters to simply trudge to the polls, shrug their shoulders and vote 'Yes' without paying too much attention to what the EU is doing (rather than what has been done). There's no other way to interpret the reports that the EU is basically hibernating until after the vote.

According to both the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune the EU is putting off doing anything, anything at all, for fear it will tip the balance in the referendum to the 'No' side.

The FT's John Murray Brown says that the pending referendum forced the the EU to (a) push back the date for budget reform proposals (agricultural matters in particular) and (b) silence any talk on harmonised EU corporate tax rates. Murray Brown also speculates that the choice of a June date for the referendum "may have been influenced by concern that France would unveil a bold defence initiative as a centre-piece of its presidency of the EU in the second half of the year".

Stephen Castle in the IHT has much the same story to tell.
The view that Brussels has been gripped by a go-slow is shared widely. "We all know this is happening, but we are all denying it - so you won't get me saying anything on the record," one EU diplomat said.

But the evidence is all around. In March, the European Union's 27 heads of government held one of their least eventful meetings in recent memory. By contrast, their summit meeting next month - which starts June 19, after the Irish vote - has a crowded agenda including climate change, biofuels, food price increases, planned laws on cars' carbon dioxide emissions and the role of the new European president.

Initiatives likely to worry or annoy Irish voters are being played down or delayed.
This is odd. Nearly every political party in Ireland is in favor of this treaty yet the EU is going out of its way to put off doing what it wants to do. Why? Why should they fear a 'No' vote when the political parties calling for a 'Yes' comprise 94% of the elected members of the Dail? If 94% of our elected representatives believe a 'Yes' is good for Ireland, why is there even a shred of doubt about achieving 50% in the referendum?

It's times like this that make the term 'representative government' seems a little, well, misrepresentative.