Gobbledegook and the case against Lisbon Treaty


We are being asked to endorse amendments to a compendium of previous treaties without having this compendium available to us, writes Vincent Browne

THE CASE for a conscientious citizen voting No in the coming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is unanswerable. This case has nothing to do with battle groups or neutrality or dilution of Ireland's clout in Europe, or even tax policy. It has to do, however, with a fundamental issue, one for which the Euro elite have contempt.

It is simply this: the Lisbon Treaty is entirely incomprehensible. It is incomprehensible not just to ordinary citizens but even to conscientious citizens - because the treaty is gobbledegook on its own, and is intelligible only by going through it and all the other EU treaties at the same time.

For the Lisbon Treaty is framed as a series of amendments to previous treaties, or to what is known as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

This treaty is a compendium of previous treaties unavailable here. So we are being asked to endorse amendments to a compendium of previous treaties, without having this compendium available to us, and therefore being unable to understand what it is we are being asked to endorse. And even if we did have this Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to inspect, we would still need to go through, line by line from one document to the other, to make sense of what this Lisbon Treaty is about.

I would wager there is not a single Minister, junior or senior, not a single TD or not even a Senator, who understands this.

The sheer arrogance of the Government and the legion of Euro fans in presenting us with a document neither they nor us understand but insisting we have to endorse it under pain of undefined retribution is hardly surprising. For arrogance and contempt for "ordinary" citizens is a reflexive response of the Euro elite. We should trust them to know what is good for us and not bother our little heads with trying to find out for ourselves what it is we are being asked to approve.

Gay Mitchell, the Fine Gael MEP, one of the Euro cheerleaders (and, incidentally, a Nato fan), acknowledges it is not possible to understand what this thing is about, but says there is nothing unusual about this. After all, don't TDs approve the Finance Bill every year without understanding it? He is quite right about TDs approving the Finance Bill - but why should he expect ordinary, conscientious, prudent citizens to behave as morons, as TDs do annually? Mitchell says experts have interpreted the treaty for us and we should trust them. But shouldn't citizens make up their own minds for themselves? And how can they do that if what they are being asked to make their minds up about is incomprehensible? Why then should citizens approve changes to the Constitution of their State without understanding what it is they are doing? (And yes, this is a constitutional amendment for, were it not, there would be no requirement for a referendum.)

The background to this is as follows: in June 2004, at an EU summit, Bertie Ahern got the agreement of all member states to a new EU constitution. The only problem was that some member states had to hold a referendum on this. In 2005 the French and the Dutch, in referendums, rejected it. The constitution was scuttled. This was followed by a "period of reflection". In early 2007 Germany assumed the presidency of the EU and declared the "period of reflection" over; there was to be a new treaty, essentially doing what the constitution would have done, to be in place by January 1st, 2009, but without the necessity for the irksome procedure of asking the electorates in European states (aside from Ireland) whether they approved.

An expert group went to work and they came up with a text in French in June 2007 and this was approved in outline by a meeting of the European Council on June 23rd.

Then a group of legal experts drafted this Lisbon Treaty and this was approved in October last, and even the heads of government who approved this could not possibly have understood it.

Just ask Bertie what the following means: Article 7 shall be amended as follows: (a) throughout the Article, the word "assent" shall be replaced by "consent", the reference to breach "of principles mentioned in Article 6(1)" shall be replaced by a reference to breach "of the values referred to in Article 2" and the words "of this Treaty" shall be replaced by "of the Treaties". (Actually, this sounds like something Bertie himself would say, but then does anybody understand that?)

The point of the exercise was to achieve the same changes to the EU that the rejected EU constitution proposed, but to do this by way of a new treaty amending previous treaties and in ways that only a few legal eagles could possibly understand. Even then, they would understand it if they gave over a week of their time to do so (fee €20,000).

This is the modus operandi of the European Union - scorn for everyone, even for the Euro fans themselves, but they are so besotted they don't care. The rest of us should.