home Europe, Politics Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty campaign: the EU is not the Evil Empire

Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty campaign: the EU is not the Evil Empire

Between the misunderstandings, misrepresentations and accusations, the campaigns are heating up. It is just over two weeks until the Irish people vote on the Treaty of Lisbon for the second time. Having previously covered the reasons for the second vote, it seems to me that all the issues that were at the heart of the negative result last time around have been dealt with and with those out of the way, brand new issues are cropping up.

In typical Irish fashion, both sides are trying to outdo each other in accusations of misrepresentations and outright lies, despite the positive campaign which the Yes side promised. To be sure, the Yes side posters are less deliberately provocative but they are not adverse to stirring up old prejudices when it suits them.

The majority of the Yes side posters feature either shiny happy europhiles or admonishments about how much we need the EU. While the shiny happies provide eye candy for those stuck in traffic, the admonishments remind one of Catholic school and public shaming. Enough already! The big stick approach should not be attempted here. Resentment is not the emotion to inspire in voters before a referendum.

The No side is the usual ragtag of widely different groups of people finding a tiny amount of common ground. From the isolationist, ultra-conservative Cóir, to the US-centric Libertas founder Declan Ganley, to Sinn Féin who wants Northern Ireland to adopt the euro, reunite both Irelands and then leave the EU to the champion of the working class – MEP Joe Higgins.

There are other fringe elements on both sides. It seems like the European Treaties bring out every gombeen with an axe to grind. Despite the more radical arguments, there are valid points to be made on both sides. What a pity then, that the standard of measured debate is so poor.

At least both sides can agree that at the moment the prime issue is that of workers rights. Will collective bargaining be done away with? What about the European Court of Justice decisions in cases like Laval, Viking, Ruffert and Luxembourg? Will the minimum wage be slashed? Every day pundits are professing their surety that Lisbon is the best thing that has ever happened or that the EU is the evil empire that wants to crush the working person while laughing evilly. Thankfully, there is a happy medium.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights will, for the first time, be enshrined into European law. This guarantees better protection for all citizens, including workers.

In the Charter, articles 27 to 32 deal with workers rights. These include the right to information and consultation; collective bargaining and action; negotiation and strike action; free placement service; protection for unjustified dismissal; fair and just working conditions; limitation of working hours; annual period of paid leave; and prohibition of child labour.

Surely that is simple enough. Every worker in the EU is given the protections for which the trade unionists have fought for decades. What is left to debate?

The Laval decision of the European Court of Justice is put forward by the No side as a demonstration of how such protections could be circumvented. Since the Laval decision ruled against the workers and all decisions of the ECJ are binding under European law, there is a point of conflict.

I do not know whether both sides understand how EU law works or the conditions under which the Laval decision was taken. Cóir uses this decision to justify its “€1.84 Minimum wage after Lisbon?” poster. Sinn Féin and Joe Higgins both argue that Protocol No.27 of the Lisbon Treaty copper fastens the Laval decision and it does. What therefore are the minimum wage implications for Ireland? The answer is simply none.

To briefly sum up the case, Latvian construction workers had been receiving a salary far below the Latvian minimum wage. It was exploitation and the Swedish unions went on strike until a solution could be found. As a result, the ECJ ruled that the Latvian expatriate workers were entitled to the Lativian minimum wage when working in Sweden because Sweden does not have a minimum wage.

When making a decision the ECJ refers case law and treaties as well as the facts of the case. That is the key. How could the ECJ rule on minimum wage requirements when Sweden does not have a minimum wage? Setting the Latvian minimum wage entitled the expatriate workers to a minimum salary, one that was in excess of what they had hitherto been receiving.

There is no external threat to Ireland’s minimum wage. The tempest in the Irish teacup is either due to ignorance or misrepresentation. There is no immediate danger. The EU is not the evil empire. The EU is a democratic institution full of representatives that we elect. We participate in the democratic process when we vote for the Treaty of Lisbon.

8 thoughts on “Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty campaign: the EU is not the Evil Empire

  1. Interesting article, but then, so are they all. I wrote a few myself, and, I am anti-EU.

    Maybe we should add something new, something everyone appears to have missed. Ireland are not just voting on the Lisbon treaty, they are voting on surrendering their constitution.

    Read the treaty, if you can, and see for yourself.

  2. That’s rubbish Phoenix One UK. We are not voting on surrendering our constitution. Please get your facts straight. Obviously you have little understanding of Irish constitutional law.

    I have read widely on the Treaty and have discussed the matter with EU and constitutional lawyers. Perhaps you should read it yourself.

  3. Well put. All those No side lies make me want to shout:

    Wake up you dopes.
    Ireland before the EEC/EC/EU was a tragic, alcoholic, wife beating, child molesting, paedophile priest dominated, unemployed syphilitic hellhole.
    You woke up to nothing to wake up to.
    Catatonic breakfast. Food? Shit food.
    Skip it. Skip town.
    The only thing you could do was get the hell out.
    Sadly the UK was the main option or you went illegal in the US.
    Ireland existed as a source of cheap labour for Britain and a source of missionaries for the world.
    Beyond that, Ireland was a rank, damp TB ridden basement bed-sit of a country.
    A psychologically ill basket case capable of feeding and employing a mere fraction of its citizens.

    Then the EC.
    The first visible consequence was social – Dutch and Germans came here.
    They made cheese, they baked.
    And after a decade the slow, fish-hating locals – hey that’s why we gave our fish to the Spanish. We didn’t like them, they tasted fishy. Fish was penance. Fish was Friday. Shell fish yuck. We’ll give our fish and you give us more money to fund our cows. Glorious cows. Moo cows. Milk Cows. Beef Cows. Bearers of the incinerated steak we ate with cabbage cooked to paste – started to copy the foreigners.
    Those weirdos are on to something.
    Maybe rivers aren’t a place to dump old cars. Sure the flash fellas in Dublin will eat that salmon. You have to smoke it though’.
    Jaysus, hurry get the slurry out of the river.
    Then the locals were joined by a strange class of people, returnees – no longer “proper Irish”, they didn’t wear bitterness with pride- coming home from weird places that were not called Cricklewood or the Bronx but Barcelona, Toulouse, Hamburg, Antwerp.
    And guess what? The Big Brother EU didn’t bar code their foreheads. No the EU freed us to go where we wanted.
    Free from the violence, bribery, backwardness, incestuousness, mental decay. Free from the fourth “missing field’. Free from the Ard Fheis. Free from baton charges in Ballsbridge. Free from the dirty protest. (That came natural).
    Free from Tom Murphy’s Whistle in the Dark. Free from the Great Hunger.
    Hunger, now we’re back at the table again.
    Shut up Da!
    Behold is that a vegetarian restaurant I see before me in Dingle. Sushi in Akakista.
    Hey where did all these roads come from?
    (Thanks again to the Germans – they put food on the table, and then drove us to the restaurant.).
    Suddenly when the kids came back from Europe they barely recognised the place.
    And then, holy Mary, that queer Norris brought our homosexuality laws to Europe.
    And the genie was out.
    Contraception in pubs! Are you mad or what!
    Suddenly we had been given all the toys. Finally we were big boys.
    And what did we do?
    You know what we did.
    Do want an answer? The fuck you do!
    Jesus, we are a substance abusing, spoilt, immature child that should not be left on its own.
    The only mature thing about this country is our alliance with Europe.
    Outside of that Ireland is a basket case.

    If we don’t look out to Europe – the Wahhabi wing of the Catholic Church – COIR – will have us looking up through whisky red eyes at the Virgin Mary.

    “Ah sure Mary will understand. The younger sister was asking for it.”

  4. @mj you know that “no means no” straw argument really annoys me. Firstly the facile use of the phrase which originates in anti-rape education, I find despicable. Secondly, yes it is word-for-word the same treaty. But, and this is the important part, the EU has addressed the major concerns of the Irish people and issued guarantees. Now, you can argue that it’s a lack of democracy but it’s really a question of information and access to same.

    @Kevin Barrington yeah there’s a lot of sense in that. Saw it on MachineNation. Great piece!

  5. Pleace vote for democracy and against the treaty of lisbon

    Dear irish people!

    Pleace stop the treaty of lisbon! Is is antidemocartic, militaristic, antisocial. The disadvantages are much bigger, than the advantages. The EU can live with its actuell laws. They should only be changed into a democratic direction. With the treaty of lisbon, the european council is able to change this treaty in great parts without asking the parliament. This is nearly the same law, which mades the nationl- rassistic- party of Germany so powerfull in our country in the year 1933. Our basic law (the german constitution) and all other european constitutions should not be replaced by the treaty of lisbon. But the new treaty tries to bring all right- sytstems in a lower level than the new european right. Here is my informationpage: http://sites.google.com/site/euradevormwald/english . When you have some more english information, pleace send me a link or text or write it into the visitors book of my page. And pleace spread this text all over Ireland.

    In the hope in your activities for a better Europe, Felix Staratschek, Freiligrathstr. 2, D- 42477 Radevormwald (Germany)

  6. YES = The EU dictatorship: Poverty under a brutal police state.:


    They’re going to ask Ireland to vote on Lisbon
    and the EU dictatorship again: Say No again.

    YES would make this last day of democracy in Europe, and start of The New world order fascist POLICE state EU.

    The New World Order is going to have its dictatorial way in the end with – or without an Irish “no – and we deserve it for not reacting in due time against the traitors – just said: “Pth! Conspiracy theory!”

    The Lisbon Treaty I. Brainwashed Political Brotherhood Unanimously Keen on Giving up Democracy:


    …corrupt EU now just needs the Lisbon Treaty to bring about its destruction of the last remnant of decency. Therefore, Mr. Barroso now offers 15 mio euro to the Irish city of Limerick… if…Our only hope to avoid the the disastrous Lisbon Treaty lies with one single man, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, the only decent and honest politician left in the EU…

    Vote NO- Save democracy and freedom of speech!




    Spoofing the Irish media and public with Lisbon “guarantees” that guarantee nothing




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