By Hilary White

DUBLIN, September 12, 2008 ( – The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that the European Union and Irish politicians seeking to expand the powers of the EU, plan to force another referendum in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, the last one having resulted in a resounding and (for EU politicians) most undesired “No.”

The Telegraph has obtained a document by an EU official, titled “The Solution to the Irish Problem”, that says Ireland should be pressured into holding a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty in autumn 2009. The document, by Jean-Guy Giraud, a Paris-based senior official, is regarded as reflecting the views of a majority of the EU’s leadership. 

The Lisbon Treaty is a document that the EU claims is necessary to “streamline” their operations in anticipation of expansion. Its critics, however, have denounced it as a straightforward re-introduction of the previously rejected European Constitution that would have seen significant expansions of the EU’s power over member states. The Lisbon Treaty brings the EU into its own as a single, massive superstate, creating an EU President, a “foreign minister” and establishing a European diplomatic service.

Currently the Treaty has been ratified by 24 of the EU’s 27 member states, but only Ireland put it to a public vote. Europe’s ruling class is said to be concerned over the upcoming EU elections and fears that they could be turned into an unofficial inter-state referendum on the widely unpopular Lisbon Treaty.

The EU paper predicts that Ireland will cave to pressure to ratify the Treaty at a meeting of EU leaders in October. The paper offers “guarantees” on what officials believe are the problem issues of the Treaty and promises “protocols” guaranteeing Ireland’s rights to set policy on neutrality, abortion and taxation.

This spring, Gordon Brown’s Labour government took heavy losses in popularity for having rammed the ratification vote through Parliament without a plebiscite, as was promised in the party’s 2005 election platform. After the defeat of the EU Constitution by Dutch and French referenda in 2005, only one country, Ireland, still requires a public referendum.

In June this year, European Union officials and politicians were outraged when the Irish No vote threatened to derail the process. French, German and Irish officials declared that the process would not halt, despite the rule that Lisbon must be unanimously ratified by all member states in order to come into effect. Shortly after the vote, European Commission President Jose Barroso said at a press conference, “The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive.”

An Irish Times poll of June 6, predicted a No vote in the June 12th referendum. The same poll showed that the reasons most commonly given for the No vote had to do with fears over the increasing political power of the EU over sovereign member states. The most popular reasons cited were ” to keep Ireland’s power and identity” and “to safeguard Ireland’s neutrality.”

Most tellingly, the poll also listed as a common reason for the No vote being that the Irish “don’t like being told what to do/forced into voting yes.”

While European leaders have paid some lip service to the result of the referendum, talk of a re-vote came within days of the Irish decision. Open Europe, a leading Euro-sceptic group, has decried but long predicted the EU’s strongarm tactic of re-introducing referenda until the desired Yes vote is achieved.

Open Europe believes that the bullying of the European Union, supported by the major Irish political parties, is what has caused the process to stumble. “Continuing the process of ratification in the UK,” the group says in a brief, “reflects a presumption that the Irish will be talked out of their rejection.”

“Surely the only way to truly “respect” the result of the referendum – as EU leaders keep saying they will – is not to have the Treaty at all? The whole point of continuing ratification is to put pressure on the Irish, so that EU leaders can tell Dublin ‘look, all other 26 member states support this’.”

Opinion research undertaken in Ireland found that an attempt by the EU to force another vote would likely result in an even stronger rejection. “No voters in particular often expressed offence at the idea that their decision would not be respected.”

In late July, polls showed the Irish to be overwhelmingly opposed to a second referendum. 71 percent oppose a second referendum; 67 percent agreed with the statement that “politicians in Europe do not respect Ireland’s No vote.” 61 per cent disagreed with the statement, “If all of the other 26 EU countries ratify the Treaty in their parliaments then Ireland has to change its mind and support the Treaty”.

Open Europe Director Neil O’Brien commented, “Sadly, Europe’s political leaders don’t seem to have taken on board the Irish vote – or the French and Dutch votes for that matter. They should drop the Treaty and concentrate on solving the EU’s real problems like the lack of openness and accountability.”

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