Referendum Commission to be set up Today: Lisbon 2 gets underway

Leinster House, home of the Ireland's parliame...
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I got an email today from the lovely people at European Movement Ireland which a good bit of information on the run up to Lisbon 2 Referendum. The bill setting up the Referedendum is published today, meaning that the Referendum Commission can be set up.

Commission will aim to inform voters of the issue as well as encourage people to vote. The Commission will be made up of the following:

  • A former judge of the Supreme Court or High Court or a Judge of the High Court
  • The Ombudsman
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General
  • The Clerk of the Dáil
  • The Clerk of the Seanad

The time line will look like this:

  • Monday July 6th: Bill Published and Referendum Commission set up
  • Wednesday July 8th: Bill debated in Dáil
  • Thursday July 9th: Bill debated in Seanad

The referendum must take place with 90 days of the bill passing both houses of the Oireachtas so October 2nd is looking like the date.

I am informed by sources that an Taoiseach will be speaked in the Seanad on the Bill. The fact he is speaking in Seanad is a rarity and might be worth a listen.

According to the EMI there might be a second question when we enter the polling booth in October

Interestingly, as part of the referendum language we will be deciding in the polling booth come October, we may also be asked if we would like to put a positive statement about Europe into our Constitution. We at European Movement Ireland would be very much welcome this move

That would be an interesting development and could help steer the debate towards Europe and the positives of Europe rather then just focusing on the Treaty of Lisbon.

So we can expect campaigning to really get going over the summer months.

UPDATE: European Voice states that the Referendum Commission will be set up next Monday July 13th not today as suggested by me.

Gormley is expected to set up a referendum commission next Monday (13 July), which will provide impartial information on the Lisbon treaty

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There is something that might get me to vote yes

Signing the Treaty of NiceImage via WikipediaI know I have stated before that I will vote no to Lisbon if it is put again to the electorate (here and here) but a post over on Slugger reminds me why I should vote yes.

The Nice Treaty.

I hated that treaty and when it comes to being a choice, as José Manuel Barroso said “We have either one Treaty or the other Treaty” and when it comes to me picking I prefer the Lisbon Treaty.

Under the Nice we lose our commissioner, as I pointed out during the campaig. Under Libon this might not happen and looks like it won’t happen if they agree before hand. But under Lisbon if we do lose the commissioner it is under a lot fairer system especially in comparison to the system under Nice where one country loses out.

Voting, under Nice the arrangements are as follos for a proposal in the EU Council.
For a proposal to pass it needs the majority of countries (50% or 67%) and votes (74%) and population (62%). For a proposal to fail a condition to pass a vote must not be achieved. Under Lisbon the procedure is much easier, firstly to understand and secondly to block. The proposed method for a proposal to pass is a majority of countries (55% or 72%) representing 65% of the population or a condition to block not met. For a proposal to fail at least four countries must be against the proposal. In cases where, under the Treaties, not all members participate the minimum number of members representing more than 35% of the population of the participating Member States, plus one member are against the proposal. The second condition of at least 4 countries against the proposal is to ensure that the most populous Member States cannot block decisions and is important in 10 different voting scenarios where legislation requiring QMV can be passed although the population requirement isn’t fulfilled and all member states except:

#Germany and France and one of UK, Italy, Spain or Poland
#Germany and UK and one of Italy, Spain or Poland
#Germany and Italy and one of Spain or Poland
#France and UK and Italy

are for the proposal. Which means the larger states cannot block passage of proposals.

Nice, in my opinion, was not a good deal for small member states and I was against it. Lisbon on the other hand is a fairer deal and I was for it. I am going to have a lot of wrangling with myself over how I will vote next year. Only time will tell if I can change how I will vote.

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Some tips for Brian Cowen

european union coloursImage by friendly-fire via FlickrFionnan Sheahan had an excellent column in yesterdays Indo on how Cowen et al could actually pass Lisbon the 2nd time round. I have to agree with him on most of his points.

1 Read the “bloody” Treaty.
This was a major one. Something I came across on the canvass and considering I actually read the treaty, its not impossible. But of course Cowen is not the only one, Mary Coughlan also needs classes on EU basics, especially the commission.

2 The Green Party, the IFA and SIPTU need to back the treaty from the start.
The Green Party because they are in Government! The IFA will probably back it because of the pork debacle and that. SIPTU need to be given reassurances on their issues, but it needs to be done behind the scenes not in public.

3 The same blood, sweat and tears put into a general election is needed to canvass for votes in this referendum.
That is something that every party is at fault for. Labout putting up posters with small yes’. FG putting focus on Enda and the MEPs. FF for not doing much canvassing. All sides need to convince their supporters and make sure they are well briefed to deal with questions.

4 Give people a reason to vote Yes
Anyone could write reams on why to vote no, but the yes arguments never stuck. This is something they need to work on.

5 It’s the economy, stupid
Europe is in a recession, can we face it better as a group which might lessen the effects of that terrible budget? Its a “twin-edged sword” which is mainly the fault of the Government.

6 Run your own campaign has to be the message for the political parties.
FF and FG should not be co-operating too much in the public eye. FF and Greens working together and FG and Labour working together is natural. But all the parties doing a united campaign won’t wash it.

7 Tighten up funding laws
This will lower the hassle after the vote if another “libertas” type group crops up.

8 No own goals
Can the government stop making stupid moves? I don’t know. But it will be critical if the Government want to get this passed.

9 Challenge the No camp claims
A lot of time was spent trying dispel “myths”. Try challenging them to back up their claims and people will see the truth.

10 A coherent Yes campaign wouldn’t actually go astray
Okay so dont work in public but work together behind the scene. No point in replicating work, and that it just wastes time and resources.

11 Reach out to reassure specific groups
Certain groups had certain issues, no harm in targetting them.

12 Stop patronising people
Convince them! Dont tell them what to do.

13 Speak plain language
In other words, dont tell Brsin go off on his trip to jargon-land. The EU is confusing enough, with out using obscure and strange terminology.

Anything else you add?

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Lisbon – Round II

EU Flag + Gay UKImage by stephen.spillane via FlickrSo the stage is being set for us to vote on the EXACT same treaty again. Granted the only difference is that the member states will agree not to limit the number of EU Commissioners. The other changes will be copper fastening what we already have. A protocol on Abortion (Attached to Maastricht!), Military (Attached to Nice after Nice I) and Tax Sovereignty which is in all the treaties! Really come on like! How stupid do the government think we are? While I love Europe and the EU and all the good it does it, I am not voting for this treaty unless our Government and specifically our Taoiseach shows some leadership!

Martina Devlin has an excellent column in todays Indo on Brian Cowen’s lack of leadership especially in comparison to Gordon Brown who “transformed himself into a phoenix among politicians, emerging gloriously from the ashes of his career after bold steps to tackle the banking meltdown”. Which is true and opinion polls have shown that with a marked decline in the lead the Tories have over Labour.

The same cannot be said for Brian Cowen and Fianna Fail here. When ever there is an announcement all that follows is confusion and blame games. No one in this country will take the blame. When it was obvious to the dogs on the street that the Lisbon Referendum was going to fail, Brian Cowen decided to blame Fine Gael and Labour for not pulling their weight when it was obvious Fianna Fail TD’s and suppporters where not canvassing (I didn’t get canvassed by any ‘Yes’ group).

Though I am suppportive of the European Project, I am more supportive of Democracy and think unless there is substansive change to the treaty I shall be voting no.

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A possible solution?

Again and again Lisbon raises it head. I was at an FG Branch meeting last week when an idea for a solution to Lisbon was aired. Split in three was the suggestion. The three sections would be:

1. The institutional reform part of the treaty

2. The Charter for Fundamental Rights

3. The Common Foreign and Security Policy

Now that should make things a bit easier and you split the argument in 3 and means those who know the EU needs reforming but who have doubts on CFSP and on the Charter can vote no to them. The UK and Poland have secured opt-outs on the Charter and Denmark has long held opt-outs (from Amsterdam or Maastricht) on CFSP.

Of course I would vote Yes to all 3 and would be encouraging people to vote YES-YES-YES.

Decisions are going to have to be made soon and if the Government put the same question again, I wont be supporting it.

Lisbon Round II? No Thanks!

Treaty of Lisbon, State of Play: 20th July

So it’s been awhile since I’ve done this but Europe seams to be pressing ahead with ratification despite the Irish ‘No’ Vote. I have changed the layout slightly to show ratifications as some states have passed the treaty but have not ratified it.

AustriaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 24/04/2008. Ratified: 13/5/2008

BelgiumParliamentary Vote. Approved : 10/07/2008

BulgariaParliamentary Vote. Approved 21/3/2008. Ratified : 28/04/2008

CyprusParliamentary Vote. Approved : 03/07/2008

Czech RepublicParliamentary Vote. Court Case delaying the vote

DenmarkParliamentary Vote. Approved : 24/04/2008. Ratified : 29/05/2008

EstoniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 11/06/08

FinlandParliamentary Vote. Approved : 11/06/08

FranceParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/02/2008. Ratified : 14/02/2008

GermanyParliamentary Vote. Approved : 23/05/08 Court Case delaying Ratification

GreeceParliamentary Vote. Approved : 11/06/08

HungaryParliamentary Vote. Approved : 17/12/2007. Ratified : 06/02/2008

Republic of IrelandReferendum. Not approved : 12/06/08

ItalyParliamentary Vote. In Progress.

LatviaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/05/2008. Ratified : 16/06/2008

LithuaniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/05/2008

LuxembourgParliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/05/08

MaltaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008. Ratified : 06/02/2008.

NetherlandsParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/07/2008

PolandParliamentary Vote. Approved : 02/04/2008. President withholding ratification till Ireland ratify’s the treaty.

PortugalParliamentary Vote. Approved : 23/04/2008. Ratified : 17/06/2008

RomaniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 04/02/2008. Ratified : 11/03/2008

SlovakiaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 10/04/2008. Ratified : 24/06/2008

SloveniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008. Ratified : 24/04/2008

SpainParliamentary Vote. Approved : 15/07/2008

SwedenParliamentary Vote. Vote due in November.

United KingdomParliamentary Vote. Approved : 19/06/2008. Ratified : 16/07/2008


"no alternative to a new referendum"

From todays Indo

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has been given a year by his European counterparts to push through a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish Independent has learned.

EU leaders yesterday firmly ruled out a renegotiation of the treaty as a way to resolve the crisis caused by Ireland’s ‘No’ vote last week.

Government sources said it was also made clear that there was no alternative to a new referendum.

I am very annoyed!!! 55% of people eligible to vote turned up to vote on June 12th and the majority said “NO”.

Though I was supporting a “Yes” vote during the campaign, if EU leaders are adamant that we vote on this treaty without changes then I will vote NO on the second go round.

I want a Europe that is democratic and transparent. This is not how we get it! Ignoring the democratic will of the Irish people will not endear Europe to us.

When France and the Netherland voted “NO” there voices were respected. Why aren’t ours?

Some during the referendum claimed a “No” vote would lead to a two tier Europe. What the vote has shown is that there IS a two tier Europe, One Europe of core founding and large states and one of late comers on the periphry.

This is not a fair Europe.

This outcome has actually led me to become quite Eurosceptic which is strange considering I do support a united Europe….

Time to go rethink where I stand….

Orginally Posted on The Political Gay over on

Lisbon Round II? No Thanks!

I am getting very annoyed with certain leaders and pro-europeans on the European continent. Granted I was disappointed with the No vote but then again, I’m not surprised. It was very hard to sell and explain! And I had read the feckin thing! I still think that the EU needs reforming. Nice is not very satisfactory for me and we need reform, but not Lisbon. Its back to the drawing bored.

Certain EU leaders (Both Government and Opposition) seam to think its all right to ask us to vote again. I say NO! We had 55% turnout which is above average, we the people have spoken. The project must find another way to move forward.

If the government bows to pressure from France, Germany, Italy and others, I will not campaign for a Yes Vote, I infact will vote NO. If the EU is to be democratic then it should respect democratic outcomes.

People who read this blog know I am very pro-EU, infact nearly a Euro-federalist, but at the same time I respect the vote of the people. We in Ireland were in a unique position to vote on this treaty and we were not voting on it for 500 million other people, we were voting to change a document that says how Ireland is governed, Bunreacht na hEireann which only affects 4 million or so people. I am still annoyed with this arguement.

I have a big issue which the claims of some members of the No side. Sinn Fein did not win this for them In fact most people I talked to were ignoring SF. The people that won it were Libertas on the right and Coir (not sure where they are) and the sociailists and anarchists (People’s movement) on the left who ran a very good campaign and were out in Cork City every weekend trying to convince people while the Yes crowd were no were to be seen.

Anyway I think I’ve made my point and my dinner is burning!

Voting No? Then we could lose our commissioner next year!

Yes, thats right! Libertas is telling lies! According to Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar

Under Lisbon, the European Commission will be reduced in size to 18 Commissioners from 2014 and all countries will rotate on and off the commission in strict equality. In short, each country will nominate a Commissioner for ten years out of every 15. In fact, there is even a clause in the Lisbon Treaty that would allow for all countries to continue to have a Commissioner indefinitely, should all countries want that to happen.

“However, if the Referendum is lost, the compromise agreed at Lisbon falls and the provisions of the Nice Treaty will apply. Under Nice, the Commission will be reduced to 26 or fewer members from the middle of next year

So how EU members states are there? 27. How many commissioners? 26. Chances are if we vote know, we will lose.

People forget that this was an issue under the Nice Treaty. We already accepted the fact that we will not always have a commissioner. Lisbon sets it out on a more equal basis!

Vote YES to retain our commissioner! (For another bit!)

Full Press Release

The "No Argument" I hate the most

Someone left a comment on “What Better Deal?“, since deleted, using the argument I hate the most. The Argument in question is, that other countries are being denied the vote. That is only true in one country in my opinion and that is the United Kingdom where the Labour Government promised a referendum, but did not deliver. In every other country this is not the case. In fact national referendums are illegal in Germany so the argument goes no where. We have to hold a referendum due to the Crotty Case and the fact that membership is in our constitution. The argument goes nowhere and should not be entertained and personally I am fed up with it.

Of course the same commentator went on a about a “Christian Europe”. Of course commenting on someone commenting on a Non-Christians claiming this is not going to win me over!

A short rant, but its my day off and don’t want to harp on all day