Continued from previous post ….
But, hold on. Didn’t many of these obligations exist already, even under previous treaties?
Yes, they did. And we haven’t thought too much about them or where they are leading. But this document institutionalizes these arrangements to a greater extent. Public endorsement would be taken as a signal that they are now really beyond negotiation or revision. Yet, the whole trend is toward the development of a coordinated and conformist EU foreign policy that will eventually take primacy over national foreign policies. The word EVENTUALLY is important. Lisbon 2 may not be the final nail – but it is very close to it. It creates all the necessary ingredients for a slippery slope, even if the politicians decide to delay the final push until later. It builds the machinery for a proto-state but tells us that the switch is still in the OFF position.
Do we have our confrontation with Europe now? Or do we have it the next time around? The pressure on our sovereignty is just not going away. Agreeing to Lisbon 2 merely delays the ultimate reckoning but, in the meantime, gives the politicians time to build more of the framework and put their recalcitrant publics at a disadvantage for the final heave.
Rejecting Lisbon 2 will reopen the Europe-wide debate, the one outcome the current governments truly dread. Lisbon 1 could not do that. With the experience of Nice 1 and 2, and another bite at the cherry in the offing, Lisbon 1 was interpreted as a bluff. That impression was reinforced by the lack of leadership from Irish politicians who refused to take the public verdict seriously. Rather than underlining the seriousness of intent among the electorate, they hurried to explain away the vote and reassure Brussels that the public would be brought around. It is no wonder there was only a muted reaction on the Continent. But a rejection of Lisbon 2 would force a reopening of the debate. Ireland might be isolated by a count of current governments. But it has time on its hands. Opposition parties that threaten those now in power in many EU states would have more cause to take a different line if they and their restless (and disenfranchised) publics viewed such a clear and audacious act of defiance in Ireland.