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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nightmare Lisbon Treaty

Today, the Lisbon Treaty has been in force for 100 days. The result? A more democratic and open EU? A Union which voters have an easier time understanding and identifying themselves with? Simpler and more 'streamlined' institutions? Not quite.

On it's 100th day in force, the fundamental flaws of the Lisbon Treaty - which many of us warned against - are beginning to hit home around Europe.

Le Figaro has an article in today's edition (not online) bashing the confusing institutional set-up created by Lisbon. The article notes,

Did the authors of the Lisbon Treaty fool themselves? A hundred days after the birth of the 'newly formulated' union, Europe is struggling to make its voice heard, and the confusion – 'cacophony' according to Jose Manuel Barroso – has increased at the top.
The article goes on to say that "the twenty-seven had hoped to end what we in Paris call institutional navel-gazing", but quotes an unnamed Commissioner saying, "The treaty has not simplified life; it has complicated it and wasted a lot of energy”.

Strong stuff. It goes on along the same theme,

Coincidence or not, the disorientating climate idealism at Copenhagen, the withdrawal of Barack Obama from a planned [EU-US] summit and…the attacks against the euro coupled with the collapse of Greece, all add to the gloom.

The double mess-up surrounding Catherine Ashton and the European diplomatic service adds to the disenchantment… In Brussels and beyond, lawyers and diplomats concede that the inventors of the Treaty were mistaken in its institutional mechanics. Even if the EU was at its best, its foreign policy would still be jammed today.
And on Tuesday, FT Deutschland featured an equally critical leader with the headline "Nightmare Lisbon Treaty”. It argued,

Europe has its celebrated Lisbon Treaty, its new constitution. However the Union has not become simpler for outsiders. What an anticlimax. The Member States fought long and hard for the treaty. So many thought that it would allow Europe to reach decisions faster, become more democratic and appear more united to the rest of the world. However, three months after the agreement came into force, the euphoria has evaporated. The EU Commission under Jose Manuel Barroso, the Parliament and the member states are fighting over their powers. This is because the treaty revolves around Brussels - those affected by it are finding this out little by little.

Taking a swipe at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it noted:

Even as early as the middle of December, Chancellor Angela Merkel was certain that now the EU could concentrate all its efforts on the big, political challenges. 'Instead of being concerned about ourselves, we can now tackle the challenges and problems of our time' said Merkel. This has turned out to be only a pious wish. A new phase of navel-gazing has effectively begun, the institutions are having a go at each other; everyone thought that they would have more influence over Europe....The losers are becoming more and more evident. The Foreign Ministers were the first ones..."
It conluded quoting a "high-ranking member of the Council", saying "A lot of the Ministers fought for the Lisbon Treaty, but did not read it properly."
We rest our case.

18 comments:

Julien Frisch said...

Not just the foreign ministers didn't read the Lisbon Treaty - apparently the national parliaments didn't read either.

On the request of the UK's EU committee, the national parliaments now have to ask van Rompuy what powers they actually received under the Lisbon provisions:
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st07/st07222.en10.pdf

Malleus Europae said...

Oh yes -- those ministers and MPs who are smarter than us and know better than us, yes. Why, of course they voted yes. They actually read the Lisbon Treaty. We're just dumb, ignorant plebs. When we vote no, it is out of spite, deep seated frustrations, or nazism. What can you expect? We plebs are incapable of rational thought whereas our enlightened politicians are...


...sayeth the europhile.

Well, I'm glad all those genius politicians are happy now that they got their Lisbon Treaty.

They made their bed, and now they'll just bally well have to sleep in it.

Anonymous said...

Agree that is not doing what they (said they) wanted it to do. But that it is incoherent and chaotic in some ways does not mean that it is not significantly more powerful in other ways. I worry that too many people will dismiss Lisbon and think it was "nothing to worry about after all".

3 things I would say about this.

1) The fact that it is now chaotic and disorganised will be the excuse - sooner or later - for further institutional change to "strengthen", "make more coherent", "streamline" etc etc.

2) Our problem is that the most dangerous aspects of the EU are the most complicated and boring bits. The only thing broadcasters ever understood about the treaty were the highly visible new posts. They are a failure - QED the treaty must be a failure. Wrong: all the important stuff - the Charter, the voting arrangements and the most importantly the court's new role in criminal justice are still there, waiting to be used. And never underestimate the ability of the EU to surprise. I thought the tweaks to the fiscal rules of the eurozone were boring. Now in the Greek case they are in play. And there will, I'm sure, be many more important surprises.

3) The EU is not a sabre-toothed tiger coming to eat us. It is more like a morass of quicksand in which you gradually drown. The waste of time and energy revising the treaties again and again is symbolic. Endless fiddling and inward looking diplomacy distract European countries from the massive and frightening things happening elsewhere in the world. It is a really dangerous displacement activity.

Piggies in the EU said...

Can we just give the EU all of our Labour government to do with as they please, we did not get the opportunity to have our vote to either join the EU or not to, as Gordon Brown dashed in to feather his future nest by signing it he should take all his cronies with him and just drown in the soon to be Dregs of what will be left of the Lisbon Treaty, we (England) didn't get a vote for it so let Brown and cronies have it.

Anonymous said...

Creating a single market for goods, services, and capital, with free movement of persons throughout the union, was a great economic achievement, and has made all of us better off.

Going further, as a political matter, has never caught on with the EU population. Interest in the European Parliament, elected directly since 1979, is slight at best. Matters such as extradition are proving extremely controversial. There is almost no support, even among the member states, for EU foreign and defense policies.

Even for the single monetary policy and the Euro, it is clear that almost all the member states have flouted the Maastricht convergence criteria, and there is no enthusiasm at all to assist the weakest. Perhaps we shall simply have X countries using the same currency, but with individual monetary policies. If Greece, or Spain, or Italy, wishes to issue sovereign debt in Euros, fine. But as we see today, the rate to be paid will depend on the risk perceived by the market.

Lisbon is just one more step too far. People to not feel "European." They remain French, British, Greek or whatever. There is a rather sullen and ever more widespread resistance to the flood of ideas and regulations coming from Brussels. Perhaps a pause of a few decades is in order.

Merlin said...

1. The SAD thing, and most importantly, is that MOST OF THE EU COUNTRIES HAS REPEATEDLY LEFT OUT CONSULTATION OF ITS PEOPLES ie. the people were not consulted. The UK, under Bliar and Brown are the most egregious example!

2. The basic core of the EU are the bureaucrats, who pay themselves ludicrously high salaries and generate mounds of paper but do little or nothing of any real value to THE PEOPLE. They build large and comfortable temples for themselves with our money, from which they can interfere with our life styles, hijack our laws and generally build their own little empires.

3. The EC is a place to go for failed or corrupt national politicians, when they are finally voted out of their jobs and/or seats. It has become nothing more than a grossly overpaid sinecure.

4. Finally the term "Most High" given to new posts is absurd and just about sums up what this present bunch of politicians think of themselves.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to leave a comment, but sadly I'm English and have no voice.

Please contact Mr G Brown and ask him what my opinion is.

Anonymous said...

The EU may seem like a joke to many,but the joke is on us and it's anything but funny.As the MEPs gorge themselves on the people's pockets,we in Britain dish out £40m a day through uneccessary high taxes.
Services cut,roads littered with potholes and humps,both stressful and damaging to vehicles.Instaed of us all wishing to emigrate to country where freedom still exists,lets stand together and fight here,together we will win,divided we will surely lose our freedom.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

Being French sorry for my boken english..

What we have been explaining during the Constitution debate, that the treaty was, in itself, a pure stupidity is just becoming the reality. We have explained that fighting against the fiscal paradises, and approving Lisbon was stupid.. article 198 and the following from part IV and annex 2, trying to have a more "organic" agriculture with article 39 was a complete misunderstanding of the text...and I believe that obviously those who accepted this, never read the treaties..
Cariline Flint said she never read it but I believe that a fair debate with those who supported it would have proved easily that only those who were against had a good knowledge of it...

Barry said...

Living in Ireland, but unable to vote on the Lisbon referendum, on reflection it should have been pointed out during the referendum that under the EU foreign representative that money could be saved by member states closing down their embassies. The Irish Embassy in the USA costs a fortune. But would the Irish lose their U.S. representation? Barry Laughton

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Creating a single market for goods, services, and capital, with free movement of persons throughout the union, was a great economic achievement, and has made all of us better off.

Actually it hasn't, the UK since the idiot heath dumped us into what was then called a common market our taxes have gone up because we are net contributers to it. We have lost complete industries, prices have risen due to over regulation, and we are being inundated with the unemployed of other nations to add to our own, and our already overstretched NHS is now unable to cope at all.

Anonymous said...Going further, as a political matter, has never caught on with the EU population. Interest in the European Parliament, elected directly since 1979, is slight at best. Matters such as extradition are proving extremely controversial. There is almost no support, even among the member states, for EU foreign and defense policies.

That's because the eussr parliament is only a rubber stamp, and a pretence that there is democracy. The real power lies with the unelected failed politicians who make up the commission. The democratically rejected constitution which was forced on to us as the lisbon treaty only made this worse.

Anonymous said...Even for the single monetary policy and the Euro, it is clear that almost all the member states have flouted the Maastricht convergence criteria, and there is no enthusiasm at all to assist the weakest. Perhaps we shall simply have X countries using the same currency, but with individual monetary policies. If Greece, or Spain, or Italy, wishes to issue sovereign debt in Euros, fine. But as we see today, the rate to be paid will depend on the risk perceived by the market.

A performing chimp could have told them that the problems of a common financial policy would come about.

Anonymous said...Lisbon is just one more step too far. People to not feel "European." They remain French, British, Greek or whatever. There is a rather sullen and ever more widespread resistance to the flood of ideas and regulations coming from Brussels. Perhaps a pause of a few decades is in order.

The dismantling of the political position, and the use of trade agreements is the only viable way forewards, the political experiment has failed, and only served to create a corruption ridden democratically deficient eussr, run by the unelected, and where it is impossible to find out anything because they are anti transparent.

Anonymous said...

The time for Europen Union was 40-50 years ago to serve as a balance between the US and USSR. Now, with the rise of China and soon India and Brazil and the decline of Russia from the heights, the EU has less than no reason to exist except for the Eurocrats and politicians grasping fat salaries and benefits from the system they created for themselves. They are the only ones who benefit from the
attempted political union of various nations geographically contiguos, for the most part, but historically diverse and so "un-unitable".
The question is, How do we wind back to a Free Trade Area which would really benefit all nations and leave the political stuff aside??

Maddy Westrop said...

I think it the EU will eventually fall apart anyway. The UK's debt is far worse than Greece's and there are many more in trouble in the EMU. Quite apart from the question of divergeant requirements for interest rates, I cannot believe that the EU or IMF can afford to bail out all the failing countries. The question is what political horrors do we have to face while the economic disintegration happens?

Maddy Westrop PPC UKIP Stourbridge

door to door salesman said...

The UK needs the EU like a hole in the head; we need to let the rest of the EU kill their own economies if they wish we should be independent as we did for a thousand years.
Regards

Steve Emmens

Will said...

I suggest that the best way to deal with this is to cut the money off. If we insist on wasting money on these superfluous political structures, shoudl we be surprised that they are encouraged to fill their days with interfering and meddling. The same applies to the devolved assemblies - another waste of money which creates more politicians.

jsanroman said...

for all the British Eu-bashers.... It is somehat ironic to hear you talking about independence and later on throw yourselves in the arms of the US. I wonder what independence the UK had when Tony Blair committed political suicide to follow "W" Bush or the infamous "Jo, Blair" incident. A stronger EU is needed to counterbalance the exiting and raising powers. The independence of the UK is a myth that, if achieved, would only leave ou in the hands of Chan and the US.

BTW: many people, probably younger than you, really feel European. We would much better if we would defend what is ours as much as the US people do.

jj22 said...

I can see the sense of it re USA, Russia, China domination. A more combined structured EU is more powerful under Lisbon. Faced with the new world set-up can EU member states go it alone anyway? I think jsanroman has it right here.

OK so there's a lot of noise about no referendums, fair enough, and it does look like people have been bull-dozed. But that's happening a lot in national parliaments anyway - look at the UK with thousands of new laws restricting liberty, absurd cctv cameras, DNA banks and now bio-metric id cards. And that's before we get into the whole Iraq and Afghanistan war nightmares. Who supported those? It wasn't the EU.

All done by national parliament and interestingly some provisions eg cctv could be challenged under the European Convention on HR

Sometimes i Feel "Safer" with the EU!

insidestories said...

further to last, yes i understand people's fear of Lisbon.

But..Europe must come together against the really big players in the world.

Yes, if we are going to face climatic or even financial meltdown in the future then of course everyone will end up doing their own thing..it's inevitable. However until that time it's in everyone's interest to attempt to keep the wobbling spaghetti together. The EU set-up in my own view was to create Peace in Europe after many millions died because of the wars.

It is something of a miracle that it has worked and therefore rather than try and diss it the whole time, let's all try and make it work.

Sometimes it feels like the UK has joined a Football Club which they did by popular and majority vote in the 70's and then seemingly spent the rest of its time trying to rip the Club to shreds. Don't think the other Club members are exactly going to feel too great about that, are they? Nope.

So..hopefully with my intelligent hat on, get involved in the Club and don't try to destroy it.

Alternative? Have a UK Referendum, and see what the majority really want..as happened in the 70's and ACCEPT the decision. Personally I think the Brits would be barking mad..sorry not the first time eg Iraq..to leave. It would weaken your own situation and weaken the rest of Europe at the same time. Crazy or what? The Lib Dems..very pro-Europe..apparently want to do that ie have a referendum over EU membership..because they think that's the only way to once and for all shut up the negative dissenters from trying to shaft the whole idea non-stop 24/7.

No government is perfect and the EU certainly isn't either. All we can do is try and make it better.

I am up for working at the Commission and see for myself what is really going on from the inside.

@jsanroman I think you are right. Thousands of students from uni's all over europe are doing internships in the place right now for six months. They all feel european and we have a common blood stock anyway. The Brits originally came from France, Saxony, Spain, Holland, Scandanavia with a whole load of Italian/Roman blood too for 400 years. It's in all our DNA. Let's not ignore this anthropoligical fact

As for "going it alone" then all I can say is "good luck". It didn't work before, did it?