From a Green Party press release:
De Burca suggests EU-wide referendum in 2009
â€“ EU institutions cannot have authority without popular consent says Green Party Europe spokesperson
In today’s Seanad debate on the Lisbon Treaty, Green Party Spokesperson for European Affairs, Senator Deirdre de Burca called for urgent action by the European Union to address the issue of the democratic deficit and the levels of disengagement by citizens from EU institutions which she claims has been evident during referendums that occurred prior to the Lisbon treaty referendum.
“Much of the commentary that has followed the recent No vote of the Irish people to the Lisbon Treaty has concentrated on the challenge that confronts the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, as he faces into a European Council meeting on Thursday,” she said. “It is to be hoped that a sense of European solidarity, so frequently referred to during the recent referendum campaign, will be in evidence when he meets his EU colleagues this week to discuss the way forward. The European Union’s ‘legitimacy’ problems did not begin with the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, which is symptomatic of a wider and more enduring problem within the EU.”
Senator de Burca said that as the areas of competence of the EU institutions expand, it is essential that EU institutions are not seen to have “authority without popular consent”. She argued that if this issue is not addressed by its Member States, it will undoubtedly prove a fatal flaw in what is otherwise a very successful, ambitious and innovative trans-national political project, designed to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.
That’s not a bad idea.
1) Referendums are illegal in Germany (following the exploits of a little man with a moustache). They amend their constitution by a combination of approval from the Federal Parliament and the Parliaments of each of the Lander (states).
2) What happens if some countries vote Yes, and some vote No, but there’s an overall Yes result? Is Ireland’s vote then to be ignored on the basis that the UK voted Yes (hypothetical situation!) in enough numbers to cancel out our No?
Fair points Keith
Re point 2 in Keiths comment above. It’s hardly less fair than the whole shebang being overturned by the vote of a couple of million people. (Although I like to think my vote proportionally counted for that of more than 200 other people across Europe)
Anyway…democracy – two wolves and a lamb voting for what they’ll have for dinner.
Transparent democracy, what a novel idea!
I was mulling writing a post on mine own blog on a closely related issue — actually a different approach to the same issue. So, you’re getting the gist of it first.
I expect that some EU officials must be scratching their heads at what they need to do to achieve a democratic mandate. Sure, the Lisbon Treaty was decided solely by the intergovernmental process in the current equivalent of smoke-filled rooms away from public scrutiny, but it was based on the Constitution, which had been drawn up by a Convention operating in public (all of the records are available on the web) amd consisting of elected MEPs and appointees of the member states. Likewise, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, with its earlier convention. And the documents show that civil society actively engaged in the process of drawing up both documents: ILGA-Europe and other organisations lobbied and made submissions. So, the Eurocrats must be wondering, what more could they do?
I think the key mistake was that when the Constitution was seen to not have popular backing in the Netherlands and France they reverted to the secretive huddle. What they should have done is convene a new convention, but with the vast bulk of its members getting their positions in it in a very different way: direct election of, say, three members of the convention per member state and with, say, one member appointed by each government or elected by each national parliament (i.e. 27 in total), and 27 elected by the European Parliament (with a spare seat or two for other key bodies such as the EU Commission or the Committee of the Regions if you want to geneuflect to the different levels of government).
Excellent Idea…. Cool I agree transparent Democracy …Just like was said in BifSniff
Excellent idea indeed.
Is no one else disgusted at the blatant disregard for democracy the EU is showing? I was sure about my no vote, but the reaction since has made me very very wary of the set-up. It’s so far from democracy it’s scary.
Yes, I know it’s not their fault but Barroso looks weird and sounds silky, Schultz is really physically ugly and even uglier in his vicious insults about Charlie McCreevy’s slight speech impediment.
None, not one, of these Brussels Elite seems to have any personality at all – don’t even try to look for a little charisma…
In fact the only one I saw on the TV today with charisma is the UKIP’s Nick Farage, whose ancestor was probably a Black-and-Tan :
BUT did you see the blind hatred Farage and his Irish green jersey wearing crew were met with by Avril Doyle, Brian Crowley, your other wan from Limerick whazzername Harkin MEP – because they are all on massive money, and Farage plus UKIP do not only want Britain out of the EU (which is their entitlement, please) but they want to drag down the entire EU on their way out before they close the door.
And this incenses the Irish MEPs of all parties more than anything else – the prospect that they will be out on their arses from their plum jobs thanks to the likes of Farage and the UKIP, who do show up the stench of the EU for all the world to smell.
The UKIP keeps referring non-stop to the EU Auditors and where they have disappeared to over the past dozen years, there are indeed some convicted fraudsters on the Commission and amongst the Brussels Elite, and all this worries Irish MERPs on a quarter of a million a year that between them the extreme Left and the ultra Right might somehow manage to demolish their cozy club.
To be fair to Farage and company they seem to be the only crowd in Europe not in the EU for the money, they do love old England in their own peculiar way – and the old Ireland that to them was so much a romantic part of it all.
PS: I want to pay tribute, may I, to two genuine ladies in the campaign, Patricia McKenna and Katie Sinnott,
And aren’t they still gorgeous too !
There can be no real democracy when a large body of politicians reaches a certain critical mass. An autocracy is probably the best you can hope for. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Here’s to straight bananas and no cutting of the turf!
I lament not being Switzerland in all of this!
“…what they need to do to achieve a democratic mandate.” But they have one in the No vote last week Tispter. Cowen has a mandate from the Irish electorate: to go and negotiate another treaty.
Yea it’s annoying to see that in the three countries who had a chance to vote, there was a resounding ‘NO’ from the public, despite fierce encouragement for a Yes vote from the vast majority of political parties in all three countries.
It’s clear that the people don’t want change. And it’s clear there is a massive disconnection between what the people want and what their respective Governments want.
The Danish prime minister was cheered in Brussels when he announced he had got the Lisbon Treaty through without having to hold a referendum. I can imagine the hats being thrown up in the air, the hugging, the back-slapping. “By god you’ve done it despite them!”
In Brussels and the respective European Governments we seem to be catching a whiff of contempt in the air.