The Limits of Unanimity: Treaty Texts and Political Realities in CFSP

30 09 2009

As for the unanimity rule on general foreign policy, the Council can agree to adopt different procedures, including qualified majority voting, albeit triggered unanimously (Art 31 CTEU). Irish governments may feel obligated …. that word again … so a form of moral and political pressure will compel them to avoid being in a minority of one scenario. Moreover, even when abstaining, there is wording in the Treaty that encourages (not compels, but encourages) them to agree to act in a manner not incompatible with the measures they refused to support in the open. There is a lot about “solidarity” – again, a coercive normative framework for putting pressure on dissenters. This framework is as much about political coercion as about legalities.

There is continuing discussion of Article 48. The article requires national constitutional procedures (referenda in Ireland) for instances of both kinds of Treaty amendment. Yet, there is still an option for a Council decision to apply QMV to new areas within the general competences already granted to the Union. That formulation remains extremely slippery and open to abuse by politicians and politically-biased judges. Yes campaigners (as here – Michael McLoughlin’s well-constructed – even if misguided YES site), have generally glossed over the potential for mischief arising from the ambiguities in articles 31 and 48. Measuring the weight and significance of foreign policy issues that should require QMV and those that should not is a very complex matter. Similarly, the boundaries between policy and implementation measures are easily fudged.

States are allowed to cite national interest as a reason for rejecting QMV decision-making. But, in this case, there is an effort on the part of the Council and the head of CFSP to “resolve” the difference, another opportunity for moral and political coercion.

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One response

3 10 2009
pmauoy

The Lisbon Treaty is a rat trap that puts people in cages.

It is vital to delay the possible ratification.

We absolutely need time to inform our citizens about the perversity of a system that abandons the democratic process and derived a forced march to the satisfaction of powerful special interests to the detriment of general interest.

We need time to warn people about the realities of
– the Bilderberg meetings
– the Trilateral Commission
– the Council of Foreign Relations
– etc. …

All these circles undemocratic working under cover for decades and grow to a new world order where people no longer have their say.

We need time to allow people to become aware of the real objectives of the New World Order.

The treaty must be thoroughly amended to give latitude to the democratic expression:

> Freedom of expression and opposition should be more explicitly encouraged.

> The fight against the illegal actions of lobbying – from financial groups, ideological and industrial – must be clearly

> The fight against the lies and corruption of the powerful must be included as a right of every citizen and sanctions of dismissal and disqualification should be the rule.

> Transparency of debates and votes in Parliament must be total (video recording sessions available to every citizen, minutes of meetings available to all citizens)

EastWestEurope replies:
M/Mme Mauroy:
Thanks for your contribution.

Interestingly, I don’t share your particular set of concerns – the Trilateral Commission, corporate interests etc. But I understand that many on the left do. I would be more alarmed at the social democratic regulatory impulses of the EU interfering with Ireland’s market economy philosophy and traditional social policy. And I don’t believe in any European foreign policy identity. So we are coming from opposite parts of the spectrum.
Yet, I think we can agree that the EU infrastructure is moving in the direction of more centralization, bureaucratization and undemocratic governance. The fact that Lisbon arouses such suspicions from both left and right says a lot. The issue is not whether Europe takes a statist or neoliberal direction: it’s about how that decision is taken in the first place.
By the way, you want to demnocratize EU-level institutions. Fine. But national and sub-national institutions must also have more of a say, not less. Lisbon claims to democratize the EP. It gives national parliaments more of a chance to talk about EU policy, while simultaneously reducing the number of issue-areas where they might actually have a veto.
A delay to Lisbon now depends on the timing of decisions by Poland, the Czech Republic and Britain. A mismatch of timing will allow the Treaty to be passed much earlier. President Klaus should declare that he will delay a decision until after the UK General Election, when Britain’s final verdict will be clearer.

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