Surprise at Ganley's pro-Europe stand

 

THE GOVERNMENT and main Opposition parties have reacted with surprise and scepticism to Libertas founder Declan Ganley’s call for a “United States of Europe”.

The Galway businessman yesterday said he had started discussions looking to found a new group arguing for increased federalisation that would contest the 2014 European elections .

Minister with responsibility for trade and development Joe Costello said Mr Ganley’s proposal was interesting but in reality was a non-runner, while senior Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív asked: “When did Declan Ganley come home from Damascus?”

In an essay written with Prof Brendan Simms of Cambridge University, and which was published yesterday, Mr Ganley argued that Europe should replicate the structures and constitution of the United States at the time of its foundation.

Such a move would require participating States to cede large degrees of their sovereignty, this would include the areas of fiscal policy and foreign policy.

In the essay, Mr Ganley and Prof Simms, a historian, argue that a succession of failed summits, political risk-aversion, and splits have brought the euro to the brink of disaster.

“We now see Europe’s choice as this: either learn from the lessons of history and take the calculated but worthwhile risk to unite fully in a democratic and federal union, or see this project fall apart,” they write in the joint essay, which was carried in The Sunday Business Post.

They also believe that major reforms should take place before full federation could advance. That would be discussed at a special convention after which States could opt in or opt out.

Mr Ganley has been publicly identified as leading the campaign against the Lisbon treaty and against further integration.

His critics yesterday said it marked a major change of public stance by him.

However, Mr Ganley said in a series of radio interviews yesterday that he has called for such a solution in the past.

Mr Costello, a Minister of State at Foreign Affairs, said there was merit in holding a discussion but that the present complex structure accommodated “individual sovereignty and at the same time pools sovereignty when it’s in the best interest of the union.

“What Declan Ganley is proposing is a horse of a different colour.

“It would be difficult to see how progress can be made on that as it would require unanimity.

“I cannot see France or Germany going down that road . . . There are so many obstacles to it that it’s a non-runner.”

Mr Ó Cuív said he was very surprised at Mr Ganley’s conversion to federalism and further argued that it was not possible to compare Europe to America in that way.

“It was not the impression he gave people during the debate on the Lisbon Treaty or during the European elections. People do not see a future that is sustainable along those federal lines.

“In Europe, people are very divided socially and linguistically in a way the USA is not. What we need [to do] is to come up with a European solution.”

Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said Mr Ganley was effecting a “complete reinvention of himself politically.

“The problem with the EU is not the principle of participation of the member states. It is that they have moved away from the social EU and the EU market to allow financial markets become the key players.

“The defeated referendums on the EU Constitution in France and Holland show that people do not want a federal Europe,” said Mr Mac Lochlainn.