A while ago, it seemed as if Kenny’s views on European treaty change were clear, wisely indicating to both Sarkozy and Merkel that such an option would not be possible, given the requirement of a referendum in Ireland.
But, the attempts to go past this little problem, in the form of adopting changes that do not require a referendum, seem to have changed the game a little bit.
Now, I am no constitutional lawyer, and I don’t have the first idea what the Attorney General will say to Enda Kenny when she does get back to him. But it would seem to me that any international agreement that allows the EU to punish Ireland if we cannot get our national budget to match their protocols, would be the kind of surrender of sovereignty that would require some a referendum. And this is a Treaty isn’t it? Those must go before the people, must be enshrined in the constitution.
More than that, such an agreement, in these economic circumstances, should go to the Irish people, who are bearing the brunt of a budget that has the EU and IMF’s name all over it. Speaking on a moral level more than anything else, this compact should be given over the Irish people to give an opinion of. It is simply too big, too influential on Ireland (and Europe) in the long-term, to ignore. This is not a case of the people being left out of the equation when an unpopular, but necessary decision is being made. Because I believe the compact is both unpopular, unnecessary and an awful deal for Ireland and any country in financial difficulty. Sovereignty has already been seeded wholesale, this is just giving up more, and so far, I see little incentive for Ireland to actually sign up.
I think Kenny knows this, and if the AG gets tells him that a referendum is required, he should be happy. Such a decision would mean the compact is history when it comes to Ireland, in its present state anyway, since there is simply no way such a referendum would pass. It would simply be a matter of how much of a landslide “No” it would be. If it came to it, I wouldn’t even be interested in what the text of the proposal was, I would vote “No” just to send a message, as a matter if principal.
Sarkozy and Merkel might not be too happy, but so what? Kenny can go back to them with a mandate from the Irish people to get some new deal, a deal that is good for us. Or maybe just to tell them to stop it. We need a bit more realpolitik from our leaders right now. The power bloc of Germany and France seem content to make up their own rules, ignore guarantees that were made in the preamble to Lisbon II, and act as if Ireland is some scolded child that should simply follow orders.
Kenny should look to the example set by our biggest trading partner, our closest ally. The UK has, in a manner of speaking, told Germany and France where to go, and while much of the furore over that has been overblown and exaggerated – Britain has not left the Union, nor is it really “isolated” yet – I think it is exactly the right message to send. Germany and France can’t have it all their own way, they should not be allowed to trample over previous agreements, and treat the sovereignty and independence of smaller member states as something to be casually tossed aside. Cameron wasn’t happy with the deal, so he didn’t sign it. Kenny can do the same, if he had the balls to stand up to our nominal masters.
The Union should never become dominated by two countries the way it has. Sarkozy and Merkel simply want more control over our finances, our tax rates. They are looking after their countries, which is exactly what they were elected to do. I just want Enda Kenny to do the same. The EU has proven itself to be a bloated, overly-managed mess, that badly needs some reform, but it is not greater centralisation it requires, but less. For Ireland especially, the EU is something that looks increasingly unwelcome, a millstone that we no longer want hanging round or necks. If the Euro does collapse, much of the EU will go with it, and I can only pray that what emerges from the rubble will be something that is less of a hungry, greedy monster then it is now.