Will Ireland give the EU the heave-ho?

posted at 11:15 am on May 31, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Ireland may be the poster nation for the EU. Thanks to heavy investment from the multinational organization, Ireland rebuilt its infrastructure and launched its Celtic Tiger economic rebirth in the 1990s. The traditionally poor nation used low corporate taxes to attract business investment, and for the first time in centuries had more people moving to the island rather than fleeing it.  When I traveled through Ireland in 2001, the EU signs showing their investment appeared almost everywhere.

Now the EU wants Irish approval on its Lisbon Treaty, but Ireland sees more of trap than opportunity in today’s EU. In two weeks, Brussels may see its second attempt at a new constitution hit the rocks on the Cliffs of Moher:

The future of the European Union now hangs on how the voters in this small country on the far western edge of Europe vote on June 12. And with less than two weeks to go to polling day, the referendum debate has been hijacked by issues that have little to do with the Lisbon Treaty. While many have accused the campaign against the treaty of being aggressive, populist and misleading, the reality is that it has also been pretty successful.

The latest opinion poll has the ‘Yes’ camp inching ahead, but only a bit. A poll published in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post showed that 41 percent were now planning to vote for the treaty, up 3 points from the previous poll. However, the ‘No’ side had seen a bigger increase, jumping 5 percent to 33 percent. With a full quarter of the electorate undecided, the spectre of a repeat of France and the Netherlands’ rejection of the European Constitution in 2005 is looming. ….

The Irish “Celtic Tiger” is losing its teeth as the global financial crisis begins to eat away at job security and leaves many people shouldering the burden of huge mortgages and worrying about their financial future. In addition Irish farmers are riled at EU plans to open up Europe markets to global trade, so much so that many farmers are threatening to reject Lisbon.

The EU strongarmed Ireland into accepting the Nice Treaty in 2001, which allowed for the expansion of the EU. Ireland rejected the treaty in the required referendum — the only EU nation that requires a popular vote for ratification — and the Ahern government had to force a second referendum, which passed. That left a bad taste in Irish mouths, and the Lisbon Treaty may suffer from it.

It’s not the only issue at hand in the referendum, either. Sinn Fein, which can usually be counted on to take a more socialist line, suddenly worries about risking the low-tax system Ireland offers foreign investors. The new constitution would require more central control over taxation and subsidies, and Ireland might see the American companies leave for greener pastures under a Brussels-run tax policy. Some on the “NO” side argue that the Lisbon Treaty might undermine Irish prerogative on abortion policy, forcing legalization in contravention of the Maastricht Treaty, which allowed Ireland to set its own laws on abortion. The “YES” side argues that the Irish should consider “the common good of Europe”.

That is what makes this process so fascinating. Do the Irish consider themselves more European than Irish? Did France and the Netherlands consider themselves less European, and so reject the 2005 constitutional changes that would have relieved EU nations of a significant part of their sovereignty? So far, the EU-as-government experiment has asked its member nations and their citizens to pretend to be both European and nationalist at the same time. That doesn’t seem tenable, not even in the short run. Either the EU is the sovereign and nationalities get reduced to ethnicities, or the EU will be nothing more than a trading organization.

We will know more on June 12. If the Irish reject Lisbon, the EU has to answer that question.


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Erin Go Braugh!

danarchy on May 31, 2008 at 11:22 AM

The EU is a government in search of a people.

RobCon on May 31, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Of our five immediate family left in Ireland this sums up how they will vote…

Caed Mile Failte

id-jits

Limerick on May 31, 2008 at 11:25 AM

How the Irish Saved Civilization” -redux?

If Ireland leaves the EU, the Brussels commissars could just bring in millions of new Muslim “refugees” to re-balance the voting bloc in their favor on the Continent to make sure it didn’t happen anywhere else.

I think that’s their 5 Year Plan, anyway.

profitsbeard on May 31, 2008 at 11:31 AM

I think the Irish have a high enough national identity to vote no on Lisbon. From what I’ve read about their immigration policies and attitudes toward immigrants in general I’d say they are alot more Irish than European. They have to have the general public vote on the treaty which tells you alot. England has to worry about pro-EU leaders simply seceding sovereignty to the EU on a whim.

I haven’t read the whole treaty but I know Europe in general is wary of immigraion and possible Turkish migration in particular.

So far, the EU-as-government experiment has asked its member nations and their citizens to pretend to be both European and nationalist at the same time. That doesn’t seem tenable, not even in the short run. Either the EU is the sovereign and nationalities get reduced to ethnicities, or the EU will be nothing more than a trading organization.

Very true Ed. What seems odd to me is that host countries want immigrants to assimilate but want to get deeper into the EU which erodes national identity, which erodes the assimilation imperative. In an EU that includes Turkey and Turkish immigrants flood the labor market to replace the ageing population are they going to become Dutch, German, French, etc? The answer seems a resounding “No!”.

The culture and identity of Europe is walking a tightrope. I hope Ireland decides to get off and go back to the platform.

Theworldisnotenough on May 31, 2008 at 11:37 AM

The EU is in the process of homogenizing Europe and taking all the fun out of life in general.

I’d say the Irish should tell the EU to go away.

Mommynator on May 31, 2008 at 11:37 AM

I’m amazed that other nations do not require a national vote on these things. You’d think the citizens would have a little say.

lorien1973 on May 31, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Europe doesn’t have much history of worrying about the economic health of Ireland. I don’t know why the Irish would hand over more control to them now.

RBMN on May 31, 2008 at 11:43 AM

My cousins are Irish Catholic and the older siblings all have their Irish passports because their grandfather came form the Isle. They got them in the 1980s, my older cousin who’s my sister’s age use to talk about getting that passport so she could travel Europe and work without problems.

We all traveled there in 2001, right before 9/11, our family and their family and we had a great time. One night we stayed with friends of their grandparents and it was so refreshing, from the hustle and bustle of here – NYC, and so damn charming.

So lush, in more ways than one, if you get my drift. My cousin kept ordering that blood pudding, he was loving it. One of my older sisters is a vegetarian and she was not liking it, it was hilarious. My cousins love to pick on her silly meat issues and we all started ordering heavy on the meats just to psyche her out. It was a really great family trip, fabulous memories of a beautiful country.

Then we came home and 9/11 happened which changed everything.

AprilOrit on May 31, 2008 at 11:46 AM

The culture and identity of Europe is walking a tightrope. I hope Ireland decides to get off and go back to the platform.

Theworldisnotenough on May 31, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Can the EU kick Ireland out? Without formal ties, Ireland’s economy could be ruined by an action like that. I’ve read that Switzerland’s laws are very much in accordance with EU regulations, but don’t have a link now.

JiangxiDad on May 31, 2008 at 11:58 AM

There is a sinister aspect to the EU Constitution that no one in the US really knows about. Or would probably even care about if they did know I suppose. When the EU Constitution went down in flames a few years back after the votes in France and the Netherlands, instead of continuing the vote the EU withdrew the constitution ostensibly to rewrite it and make it more palatable to Europeans. Well they really did not rewrite it, they change the rules no longer requiring referendums and encouraging all EU member states to treat it like a treaty (it is now officially called the Lisbon Treaty as well) and have their legislative bodies ratify it thus bypassing the general populace. And every nation but Ireland has surrendered the sovereignty of their own people without a fuss. It is most undoubtedly in Ireland’s best interest to reject this quite undemocratic process despite threats from Brussels.

NotCoach on May 31, 2008 at 12:14 PM

So far, the EU-as-government experiment has asked its member nations and their citizens to pretend to be both European and nationalist at the same time. That doesn’t seem tenable, not even in the short run. Either the EU is the sovereign and nationalities get reduced to ethnicities, or the EU will be nothing more than a trading organization.

I have a friend who is Bulgarian and she and I have had this EU membership discussion often. She was mostly against Bulgaria joining because the EU constitution was so invasive on Bulgarian sovereignty, but being such a poor country they needed the investment and tariff free trade with Europe.

I predict the EU will never be any more than a trading organization and she agrees with me especially now that she has been in the US for about 3 ½ years.

The EU wants to become the rival of America but they never will for the very reason you cite. European will always be secondary to national identity for many reasons. America was born then the separate States were born, before that we were mostly colonies. As we grew and territories were acquired they were developed into States.

The only difference is Texas which was a sovereign Nation before a State. That’s how we got our “attitude”.. ;-) That’s the same attitude that has built the EU, cart before horse.

Right now the only real trump card the EU has is trade and investment.

Texas Gal on May 31, 2008 at 12:24 PM

So far, the EU-as-government experiment has asked its member nations and their citizens to pretend to be both European and nationalist at the same time. That doesn’t seem tenable, not even in the short run. Either the EU is the sovereign and nationalities get reduced to ethnicities, or the EU will be nothing more than a trading organization.

Opps, that should be in blockquote.

Texas Gal on May 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Ireland began embracing free market capitalism and dragged itself from the mire. The EU has been trying to take credit for it for years. Mostly with self congratulatory ads. Ireland has the chance to show the rest of Europe what can be done with a little self reliance, I hope they do the right thing.

TBinSTL on May 31, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Thanks for posting this Ed.

Aside from Sinn Fein, Libertas is running an even better ‘No’ campaign.

It is most undoubtedly in Ireland’s best interest to reject this quite undemocratic process despite threats from Brussels.

Its scary that the Masstricht Treaty was signed just a year after the Soviet Union collapsed. Communism didn’t die, it just moved West.

Barroso is a ‘former’ Maoist and a thuggish clown.

I only just realised yesterday, per Barroso’s statement, that if the ‘No’ vote passes the evil Eurocrats will be tied up in paperwork for years. That is much needed breathing room.

aengus on May 31, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Go Ireland! It’s one thing to allow free travel between countries, but don’t surrender your sovereignty to Brussels bureaucrats.

The traditionally poor nation used low corporate taxes to attract business investment

Will The Obamassiah follow this part of Europe?

rbj on May 31, 2008 at 1:19 PM

‘A Big Fat Mess’, coming soon to North America!
My prayers are with Ireland.

Christine on May 31, 2008 at 1:36 PM

I have no relatives in Ireland but my family and I visited there in 2004. I love Ireland and I don’t believe the Irish people will give up any of their independence. Yes, the EU has pumped big bucks into Ireland and it is the Celtic Tiger, but you can’t threaten the Irish and get away with it. They are still fiercely independent and I hope they stay that way. Go Irish!

d1carter on May 31, 2008 at 1:42 PM

I’m hoping the people of Ireland know something of the history of Texas and how it was born. At this point in their history, they resemble Texans more than Europeans.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO !!!!!

c3ichief on May 31, 2008 at 1:52 PM

When I traveled to Ireland in December of 2002 (IwannagobackIwannagobackIwannagoback…), I recall one night in a wonderfully seedy pub in Tower (near Blarney), hanging out with some working-class folks who were simply livid about the recent switch to the Euro, and resultant decline in their financial fortunes. They were most decidedly not happy with the EU, and their objections, though primarily voiced in economic terms, had a decidedly nationalistic flavor. The Irish are fiercely and passionately Irish, and I expect (and hope) that they will ultimately send this intrusive Rube-Goldberg packing, and so serve as an example for others.

Noocyte on May 31, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Limerick on May 31, 2008 at 11:25 AM
‘That a yes or a no?

Kim Hartveld on May 31, 2008 at 3:07 PM

I’m hoping the people of Ireland know something of the history of Texas and how it was born. At this point in their history, they resemble Texans more than Europeans.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO !!!!!

c3ichief on May 31, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Hey, I live in TX and I can tell you, they’d rather die than be denied!

I guess this deserves a new motto. “Don’t mess with Ireland!”

newton on May 31, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Limerick on May 31, 2008 at 11:25 AM
‘That a yes or a no?

Kim Hartveld on May 31, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Second that. Don’t know Celtic.

newton on May 31, 2008 at 3:11 PM

Ireland is a confused country with a history that compares with anything Black Americans can come up with from their ancestry. The Irish diaspora has made a tremendously positive impact on the entire world out of the ashes, but the real Ireland continues to be an immature country in search of it’s own way.

Being part of the E.U. was a fix, but is not the answer.

Hening on May 31, 2008 at 3:49 PM

Let’s hope they have not forgotten this.

flenser on May 31, 2008 at 4:08 PM

The traditionally poor nation used low corporate taxes to attract business investment

To compare:

- Ireland manufacturing tax = 7%
- California manufacturing tax = 43%

Where would you take your mfg. site?

I’m amazed that other nations do not require a national vote on these things. You’d think the citizens would have a little say.

lorien1973 on May 31, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Where they had one, it failed. It passed where the politicians decided. If the Brussels brass had their druthers, including the EU heads of state, it w/b shoved down the throat of all EU citizens.

The size of the EU constitution should scare anyone away from it.

Entelechy on May 31, 2008 at 4:41 PM

What I’d like to know is this – either we get one EU ambassador to the U.S.A. and the U.N., or they get one for each of our 57 50 states, and one for each territory.

Entelechy on May 31, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Limerick on May 31, 2008 at 11:25 AM
‘That a yes or a no?

According to the internet, it means “a hundred thousand welcomes”. So I’m guessing it means they’ll vote for the treaty.

flenser on May 31, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Entelechy on May 31, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Absolutely!

And we need to adjust those UNSC Veto seats too.

Texas Gal on May 31, 2008 at 5:49 PM

Go, Ireland!

Bob's Kid on May 31, 2008 at 6:29 PM

That a yes or a no?

Sorry! I forgot to check back in!
Yes….a hundred thousand welcomes. What can I say? Of the five one is a banker (y), one a small service business owner (n), three on the dole (yyy). Family…..grrrrrrr…

Limerick on May 31, 2008 at 9:55 PM

Go, Ireland!

Bob’s Kid on May 31, 2008 at 6:29 PM

My exact words when i heard about this story a few weeks ago,

GO IRELAND!

RMC1618 on May 31, 2008 at 10:42 PM

Found this related video on youtube:

Member of European Parliament Attacks!!!! Media spins…

http://youtube.com/watch?v=VM1Nj0bqLaE

RMC1618 on May 31, 2008 at 10:50 PM

The EU is a government in search of a peoplemore government.
- RobCon on May 31, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Fixed that.

Lockstein13 on June 1, 2008 at 1:38 AM

I hope Ireland will make the right choice and reject the EU. Higher tax always means less jobs and a poor society. One dollar above the poverty line does not make you well off.

Low tax = more jobs.
Low tax = more consumer buying power.
Low tax = better competitively.
Low tax = better government.

jdun on June 1, 2008 at 2:55 AM

The EU wants to become the rival of America but they never will for the very reason you cite. European will always be secondary to national identity for many reasons. America was born then the separate States were born, before that we were mostly colonies. As we grew and territories were acquired they were developed into States.

The only difference is Texas which was a sovereign Nation before a State. That’s how we got our “attitude”.. ;-) That’s the same attitude that has built the EU, cart before horse.

Texas Gal on May 31, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Error!
1. America was not “born, then the separate States were born, before that we were mostly colonies.” The several States broke from the UK, being “united” in the lower-case sense (see the Declaration of Independence itself). Only later, as with the Articles of Confederation, did they become “United” in the upper-case sense. (Sorry, posse-comitatus-types, it is indeed upper-case now.) At the very least, the States came into existence as “states” at the same time as “America” the country arose. Their existence stems from their separate establishments as colonies, not as formed subdivisions of a greater whole called America. Don’t be a sucker for Leftist-centralist propaganda.

Second. Vermont and Hawaii were also independent republics (with Hawaii a monarchy long before that) prior to attachment to the country, “America.” In addition, there was the “California Republic”. And I’m sure there would be a few more such issues to be raised. Don’t be a sucker for Texas propaganda.

Tommygun on June 1, 2008 at 7:20 AM

If the Irish reject the Lisbon treaty they will have to have another referendum and possibly more until they supply the ‘correct’ answer – which is a ‘Yes’ vote. The EU is a totalitarian organisation and it will not brook dissent on this issue. Ireland cannot feasibly withdraw from the EU as it is still an EU subsidy junkie (Celtic Tiger economy talk is not a little hot air) and no-one can conceive of them going cold turkey after all these years of sucking on the EU Welfare Teat.

Nothing to see here – move along. The treaty will, sadly, be fully implemented.

Ares on June 1, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Tommygun on June 1, 2008 at 7:20 AM

I’m very well aware of American history, but thanks for the attempt at the lesson. I was speaking in simplistic terms in the context of the EU constitution and technically there wasn’t a United States of America operating under a permanent constitution until 1789. The Articles of Confederation, though a worthy attempt, failed.

Actually when the colonies broke from the UK they considered themselves individual countries. They had governors and established representative governments at the county level. That reference is documented in old records. They were united by their discontent and frustration with the Crown in addressing their grievances. In that respect we were ‘born’ from colonies as the Crown classified us and into individual states which erased the ideology of individual countries who volunteered to give up certain aspects of established sovereignty.

My point is that the EU is attempting to bring together individual nations who have operated under their own national governments (of various types) for in many cases, centuries, and demanding they give up their portions of their sovereignty and national identity at an attempt to build a United Europe that mirrors the Untied States. Tariff-free trade and EU investment is the only thing that is holding them together.

Oh .. and I am neither a sucker nor a propagandist.

Texas Gal on June 1, 2008 at 1:30 PM

If the Irish reject the Lisbon treaty they will have to have another referendum and possibly more until they supply the ‘correct’ answer – which is a ‘Yes’ vote. The EU is a totalitarian organisation and it will not brook dissent on this issue. Ireland cannot feasibly withdraw from the EU as it is still an EU subsidy junkie (Celtic Tiger economy talk is not a little hot air) and no-one can conceive of them going cold turkey after all these years of sucking on the EU Welfare Teat.

Nothing to see here – move along. The treaty will, sadly, be fully implemented.

Ares on June 1, 2008 at 10:31 AM

you’re probably right, but i still pray you are wrong. I hope the Irish win, and their soveregnty prevails. And I hope the EU attempts to homogenize Europe, and dissolve national identities, fail miserably.

RMC1618 on June 1, 2008 at 2:08 PM

So the EU will get people to do by “vote” what two major wars and decades of communist evil could not. Well, at least they have provided a Shining Path for their comrades here in the US.

Or is it the other way around?

It’s getting so hard to tell.

TheCulturalist on June 1, 2008 at 4:37 PM