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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Treaty of Lisbon: "The Irish save Civilization", Part II?

The Telegraph's Chris Booker thanks the Irish for calling the bluff on one of the most shameless confidence tricks in political history this past week:
Seven years ago, Europe's leaders decided that, as the consummation of their great "project", they would draw up a Constitution for Europe. After extending its powers for nearly 50 years, often by subterfuge and deception, the European Union could emerge in its true light on the world stage, as an all-powerful, supranational government.

Under the Laeken Declaration of 2001, full of references to "democracy" and the need to bring "Europe closer to its people", they set up a convention which spent 18 months drafting the constitution, tightly controlled at every point by its president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. advertisement

For 18 months more they fine-tuned its details until it was ready to be ratified, by compliant national parliaments or by the referendums which various governments had been reluctantly forced to concede.

Then came that shocking moment in 2005 when the constitution was thrown out by the voters of France and Holland. The EU's leaders were stunned, and bemused as to what to do next.

Then, last summer, they came up with a breathtakingly bold plan. They would rearrange the contents of the constitution in a way that made it virtually incomprehensible, omit the provocative references to a constitution, and railroad it through their parliaments without risking any more referendums - except for the only country, Ireland, whose constitution made one unavoidable. ...

What are the aims of the Treaty of Lisbon?

The Treaty of Lisbon replaced -- yet maintained in substance -- the European Constitution rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005 ("a little snip here, a little change there, a little paint touch-up there", quips Hans-Jürgen Schlamp of Der Speigel). For a closer look as to the objectives of the Treaty of Lisbon, see this 12-point analysis by Prof. Anthony Coughlan (These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You Brussels Journal December 13, 2007):

The new European Union will have its own government, with a legislative, executive and judicial arm, its own political President, its own citizens and citizenship, its own human and civil rights code, its own currency, economic policy and revenue, its own international treaty-making powers, foreign policy, foreign minister, diplomatic corps and United Nations voice, its own crime and justice code and Public Prosecutor. It already possesses such normal State symbols as its own flag, anthem, motto and annual official holiday.

As regards the State authority of the new Union, it is embodied in the Union' s own executive, legislative and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice. It is also embodied in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with Union law. Member States will be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty. Thus EU "State authorities" as represented for example by soldiers and policemen in EU uniforms on our streets are not needed as such.

Allowing for the special features of each case, all the classical Federal States which have been formed on the basis of power being surrendered by lower constituent states to a higher Federal authority have developed in a gradual way, just as has happened in the case of the European Union. Nineteenth century Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia are classical examples. Indeed the EU has accumulated its powers much more rapidly than some of these Federal States – in the short historical time-span of some sixty years.

The key difference between these classical Federations and the new European Union is that the former, once their people had settled, share a common language, history, culture and national solidarity that gave them a democratic basis and made their State authority popularly legitimate and acceptable. All stable States are founded on such communities where people speak a common language and mutually identify with one another as one people – a "We". In the EU however there is no European people or "demos", except statistically. The Lisbon Treaty is an attempt to construct a highly centralised European Federation artificially, from the top down, out of Europe's many nations, peoples and States, without their free consent and knowledge.

If there were to be a European Federation that is democratic and acceptable, the minimum constitutional requirement for it would be that its laws would be initiated and approved by the directly elected representatives of the people either in the European Parliament or the National Parliaments. Unfortunately, neither the Lisbon Treaty nor the EU Constitution it establishes contain any such proposal.

Ireland's Catholic Bishops on the Lisbon Treaty

Ireland's Catholic Bishops addressed the Lisbon Treaty in a pastoral document entitled "Fostering a Community of Values":

Speaking to diplomats and authorities in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI noted that:
"The 'European home', as we readily refer to the community of this continent, will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions. Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots. These represent a dynamic component of our civilization as we move forward into the third millennium.
While acknowledging that the preamble to the Treaty includes a reference to Europe's 'cultural, religious and humanist inheritance,' it is regrettable that there is no explicit recognition of the Christian heritage of Europe in the Treaty. However, in keeping with the spirit of the Founders of the European project, the aims and aspirations that underpin the initiatives of the EU in many respects reflect the Christian humanist vision of the good society. For example, Article 1.4 of the Treaty of Lisbon promotes full employment, social progress and a high standard of environmental protection alongside respect for the rich cultural and linguistic diversity in the member states. It also includes a commitment to promote social justice and protection, equality between men and women, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child, and to combat social marginalisation and discrimination in whatever form it may take.
On the contrary, I would think that the deliberate refusal to acknowledge Europe's Christian heritage calls into question its "aims and aspirations." Indeed, Ireland's Bishops express the subsequent concern that:
In a climate of legal positivism attempts may very well be made to use traditional language concerning human dignity in ways which are contrary to the traditional sense."
The Bishops' concern over the perverse use of "rights" language is well-founded. In 2005, A European Union advisory panel issued a statement saying that medical professionals are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right.”.

In March 2008, Polish President Lech Kaczynski expressed concerns that the European Union's "Charter of Fundamental Rights" lack of clear definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, warning that may leave signatory nations open to attacks on the institution by the homosexualist lobby. (Polish President Warns EU Charter Could Force "Gay Marriage" on the Catholic Country March 19, 2008):

"An article of the charter," he said, "...may go against the universally accepted moral order in Poland and force our country to introduce an institution in conflict with the moral convictions of the decided majority of our country." The Polish constitution states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The European Union and other pan-Europe bodies have consistently attacked Poland's constitutional protections of natural marriage and the unborn. Poland remains, despite declines, 89.8 percent Catholic, with about 75 percent practicing their faith, one of the highest rates of religious practice of any of the Catholic European countries.

Poland's ratification of the Lisbon Treat was contingent upon the ability to "opt out" from the EU Human Rights Charter.

Earlier this month, Jens-Peter Bonde, President of the EU Democrats, and a Danish member of the two EU constitutional conventions, warned last week that the Referendum Committee was not telling the full story and that the Lisbon Treaty could well overpower the Irish constitution. The longest-serving member of the European Parliament, Bonde stepped down to campaign full-time for democracy and transparency within the European Union.


  • Vox Nova's Morning's Minion expresses his displeasure with the people of Ireland, dismissing those who voted "no" to the ratification -- numbering some 860,000, it would seem -- as "a rag-tag group of Marxists, ex-terrorists, hard-care nationalists, the extreme Catholic right, and a shady unknown businessman with ties to the US defense industry." Keeping to form, he attacks the "US Catholic Right":
    Completely oblivious to the voice of the Irish church, some US Catholics (the usual suspects) laud the no vote, the the grounds that Ireland has given the finger to “Brussels elitists”. As always, they are reflecting their own political and ideological biases onto Europe. They see the debate through the eyes of the kind of Enlightenment-era liberalism that prizes the liberty of the individual over the common good and solidarity (notice the whole comment is about economics- when the Irish bishops say that is exactly the wrong way to look at it). They are also wedded to a form of nationalism that elevates the role of the nation state above any supranational cooperation. Clearly, the dream of Erasmus and Thomas More for a united, peaceful, Europe was misplaced then…

  • All Hail the Irish! - Jeff Martin (Maximos) What's Wrong with the World responds:
    the notion that the European Union instantiates a Christian conception of solidarity ought to be risible on its face. The EU commissars pointedly refused to acknowledge the Christian heritage of Europe in drafting their Constitution, and true to form, conceived of their union as a custodian of universal human rights doctrines owing much, much more to Enlightenment fabulisms than to anything that Christian natural law philosophers would recognize. Such protocols, as enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", are expressions of the managerial, technocratic, secularist ethos of contemporary Western elites, which strives to normalize every moral deviation proscribed by Christianity, to the ends of making straight the paths of administrative and economic efficiency, and creating fields and pretexts for the exercise of power. We should be forthright, undissembling, undeceived, and absolutely settled in mind as regards what these technocratic powers are, what they entail, and the manner in which they will be exercised: they are employed, and will continue to be employed, to batter and buffet the tattered remnants of Christian civilization in Europe, and to facilitate the mass immigration of culturally alien, unassimilable, hostile Others into the European heartland, all the better to bury, and secure against the remotest possibility of resurrection, a possible alternative popular and elite formation predicated upon the Christian traditions of the West. When the indigenous traditions and cultures of the European peoples have been simultaneously subverted by the post-Marxist cultural enthusiasms of the partisans of universal human rights, and displaced by alien cultures, their historic bearers thus disinherited and dispossessed, what possibility of resistance will remain? Ah, yes, we've already been warned: any resistance will be stigmatized as fascist, Marxist, extreme, terrorist, and corrupt. One is sent into reminiscences of Auguste Comte, who inveighed against the opponents of his Religion of Humanity as "retrogrades and perturbators" who would be proscribed under the administrative reign of the positivist vanguard of humanity.
Libertas is a new European movement dedicated to campaigning for greater democratic accountability and transparency in the institutions of the EU and developing innovative policies which can benefit Europe and foster a more positive relationship between those institutions and the citizens for whom they legislate.

  • Update Why Irish Voters Rejected the Lisbon Treaty Brussels Journal June 16, 2008:
    One of the main objectives of the virtually unreadable treaty is to turn the EU into a “global geopolitical actor” that can counterbalance the United States on the world stage. To achieve this, European elites say the EU needs to speak with “one voice” in international affairs. In this context, the new treaty is designed to create the job position of (an unelected) European president as well as a powerful European foreign minister. It would also establish a European diplomatic corps with European embassies and a European army.

    As many observers of European politics know, democracy does not come easy on a continent where European elites view themselves as an aristocracy entitled to rule over the ignorant masses. Indeed, the entire European social welfare state has been built upon the unspoken quid pro quo of “bread and circuses” (ie, the cradle-to-grave nanny state) for the general populace, in exchange for their loyal submission to the political and intellectual classes.

    Thus it should come as no big surprise that the word ‘No’ does not exist in the European political lexicon. ...

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