Brussels Commission involves itself in Irish Lisbon referendum re-run

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
22.08.2009
By Anthony Coughlan, Director (President, Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels)

Below for your information is the rebuff delivered yesterday by the European Commission on its Dublin web-site to the recently launched “Farmers for a No Vote” group in Ireland.

Whatever about the statements by the new  farmers’ group which the Commission criticises, the issue here is that the Brussels Commission is behaving as a political party and engaging directly  in the Irish referendum campaign!

The Commission is using EU taxpayers’ money, partly financed by Irish taxpayers,  through the medium of its web-site to help support the Yes campaign in Ireland.

The excerpts from its web-site given below are clear proof  of this.

The Commission is acting quite “ultra vires” here.  It has absolutely no legal function in relation to the ratification of new European Treaties.  It only acquires functions in relation  to these Treaties once thay have been ratified and  become part of European law. That is not - or at least not yet - the position with the Lisbon Treaty.

At the same time, the Commission is a highly self-interested party in relation to Lisbon.  If ratified, Lisbon would give the Commission major new powers, including the monopoly of proposing EU laws  in the 30 or so new policy areas that the Treaty would transfer  from the EU Member States to the supranational EU institutions..

A civil service is not suppposed to engage in political activity.  This is a direct confrontation by the Commission with the Irish Farmers for a No Vote, a campaigning body in Ireland’s referendum re-run

The Commission’s use of its web-site  in this fashion is an interference with Ireland’s  referendum process and the right of Ireland to ratify or not ratify Lisbon “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements ” and without interference from outside bodies such as this.

Mr Martin Territt and his fellow officers in the Commission Office in Molesworth Street, Dublin,  should be restrained from this abuse by their superiors in Brussels.

The Commission as guardian of the existing Treaties,  but not yet the guardian of the Lisbon Treaty - for it has not been ratified -  has a legal duty under European law to respect the ratification rules set down by Irish electoral law and the Irish Supreme Court.  It has the duty also to abide by EU law relating to the ratification of Treaties.

The Commission’s 1.5 million “information campaign” in Ireland:

Apart from this latest direct involvement in an Irish referendum controversy,  the Commission is currently spending some ¤1.5 million euros on a campaign of information in Ireland, ostensibly aimed at giving Irish people more information on the EU, but in fact seeking to influence their vote in the Lisbon  referendum re-run on Friday 2 October..

It is doing this by means of massive bill-board advertising all across Ireland, cinema advertising that is directed especially at Irish women and young voters, the holding of meetings and seminars and the use of web-sites.    This “information  campaign”, which is currently in full swing, is to go on into 2010, but its  launch in Ireland in recent weeks is clearly geared to influencing the outcome of the Lisbon referendum in six weeks time.

Never before has the European Commission interfered so blatantly in an Irish referendum in an attempt to influence the result, and it looks as if this interference is only just beginning.

Legal mistakes by the Commission:

As regards points on the Commission’s web-site below in response to the Farmers for a No Vote statement, the Commission is factually incorrect in what it says or implies about how Ireland’s voting weight  in making EU laws would be affected by the Lisbon Treaty.

The Commission, like  Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin writing in last  Wednesday’s Irish Independent,  seems to be under the mistaken impression that a “double majority” of number of Member States + a qualified majority of votes does not exist already for making EC/EU laws, when of course it does.

The statement that a double majority of Member States + Population size is new aims to disguise the big diminution of Ireland’s voting weight in making EU  laws which would occur with the Lisbon Treaty. For Lisbon would put EU law-making on a primarily population-size basis, just as in any unitary or federal State.

This would have the effect  of greatly advantaging  the four  Big Member States at the expense of smaller EU States such as Ireland.

The Commission is also incorrect in suggesting that human rights matters such as inheritance rights would or could not be affected in a post-Lisbon European Union.

Once 500 million Europeans are made into real rather than just symbolical  citizens of the constitutionally  new European Union which Lisbon would establish,  with their  rights as set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights being made legally binding for EU citizens, ALL human rights issues would in principle come within the purview of the EU Court of Justice  in the years and decades to come - for EU citizens.

If Lisbon is ratified, it is therefore perfectly conceivable that in  some future court case on human rights issues the ECJ would be asked to lay down what are  EU citizens’ rights to inheritance, on the basis that such rights should be uniform for the 500 million EU citizens across the Union.

In these circumstances any lawyer  worth his salt will be able to contend that, for example,  the right to equality for EU citizens should be reflected in uniform fashion in inheritance and property laws across the post-Lisbon EU.

And if the  EU Court of Justice should agree in some future court case, this could well impinge radically on different national laws and practice in this  area.

The point is that the  ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would give the 27 judges of the EU Court of Justice the power to decide such sensitive matters for the first time,  as a consequence of the establishment of a real EU citizenship, entailing EU citizens’ rights and duties vis-a-vis the  constitutionally new post-Lisbon Union.

If you want to find out more of what the Lisbon Treaty will legally do if ratified and what will happen if Ireland votes no, the below information gives details of meetings where Anthony Coughlan will be specking about the Lisbon Treaty.

Thursday, 27th August 8pm
Plaza Hotel Tallaght, Dublin 24

Saturday, 29 August 3pm
Castleknock Hotel Porterstown Road, Dublin 15

Sunday, 30th August 8pm
Harold’s Cross National School Clareville Road, Mount Argus, Dublin 6

Tuesday, 1st September 8pm
Carnegie Court Hotel North Street, Swords, Co.Dublin

Wednesday, 2nd September 8pm
Marine Hotel Sutton Cross, Co.Dublin

Sunday, 20th September, 4pm - 8pm
Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin 22

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