Seven big Euro Lies
Since the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty on 12 June, sirens of alarm have shrieked in Dublin, Brussels, Berlin and Paris over the damage this has done to the European Union and threats to Ireland's future participation in the European Union
Lie One: The EU can go ahead with the Lisbon Treaty in defiance of the Irish rejection of it.
This cannot happen. Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union states clearly that any amendments to the Treaties need to be agreed unanimously by all Member States, and then ratified by all Member States.
The European Court of Justice has established the basic rule that the Treaties can be amended only by the procedure set out in the agreement and national ratification as set out in Article 48 of the Treaty – except for a few provisions which specifically permit this (Case 43/75 DefrenneII). So the EU cannot go ahead without the Lisbon Treaty
Lie Two: Ireland can be expelled from the EU
This is legally impossible. Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union does permit a Member State to be suspended, rather than expelled, from the EU, if it is judged guilty by all the other Member States of a “serious and persistent breach” of “the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”.
This, clearly, has no applicability in this instance.
Lie Three: The rest of Europe can proceed with creating a two-speed EU, relegating Ireland and some other recalcitrant Member States to the slow lane.
No changes can be made to the institutional structure of the EU without ratification by all Member States in accordance with their constitutional requirements, because this would require an amendment to existing Treaties. For this to happen, the Irish electorate would have to endorse it, under Article 478 of the Treaty on the European Union.
A two-speed Europe could not happen in the absence of the Irish people agreeing to it.
Lie Four: The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty causes an institutional gridlock crisis within the EU.
Before the accession of the eastern and central European Member States in 2004, that without institutional change, the EU decision-making mechanisms would collapse under the weight of so many members.
It was believed there had to be changes in how the EU took decisions by reducing the number of Commissioners and removing almost all of the vetoes at the Council of Ministers and introducing at the council new Qualified Majority voting procedures.
But, as it happened, the sky did not fall in when the EU constitution failed because of the rejections by the Dutch and French electorates.
The existing institutional structures have worked fine over the last four years and there is no reason to believe they will not continue to work fine.
In any event, the reduction of the number of Commissioners to 18 was hardly going to make much difference to decision-making there and the exercise of vetoes by Member States at the Council of Ministers is rare.
We quote elsewhere Charlie McCreevy, Ireland's EU commissioner as saying: “The EU will not grind to a halt as a result of Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
There are many immediate challenges that we must, by working together in the EU, find responses to, not least being rising food and oil prices, an economic downturn and the threats of rising unemployment”.
Lie Five: The rejection of the Treaty will prevent the EU from dealing with climate change.
The Lisbon Treaty made no difference, whatsoever, to the EU's competence in the area climate change. Under the Nice Treaty, the EU has full competence to deal with all environmental issues.
The only difference the Lisbon Treaty made to this was the insertion of the words “and in particular, combating climate change”.
The words “in particular” acknowledge the existing competence to deal with combating climate change.
Lie Six: The rejection of the Treaty deprives the EU of competence to deal with energy issues.
The EU already has competence to deal with energy issues, under the internal market and environmental legislation.
Regarding atomic energy, this competence already exists under the Euratom Treaty.
Lie Seven: The Irish No vote signals a rejection by the Irish of the European Union and willingness to withdraw, now that Europe has no more cash to give Ireland.
Opinion polls since the referendum have underlined the commitment of the vast majority of the Irish people to participation in the European Union.
By far the most telling reason for the No vote, as represented in the Irish Times poll published on 5 June, was the unintelligibility of the Treaty and consequent confusion over what was involved (30 per cent of those polled gave this as their main reason for voting No).