Dick has responded, in depth, as ever…
Just what is so undemocratic about the EU is beyond me. Sure, we all hear about the bureaucrats in Brussels, but all the decisions are made by our elected representatives. The Council of Ministers comprises of our governments while the European Parliament is directly elected. European Commissioners are appointed by our governments who, once again, answer to the people of each state. If people don’t like what their government is doing in Europe, they should start voting for someone else. In Ireland that hasn’t been the case to date.
Of course you could always make it more democratic by increasing the influence of direct representation. But this would move us further towards federalism, something the euro-sceptics don’t want. You can’t have it both ways.
If the EU were democratic, it would be accountable and transparent. I do not think it is. Is that fair?
As a voter, I never felt bullied, but I did feel that the government dropped the ball in terms of not explaining what was involved the first time around. As to alleging that the government in some way bought the election, its impossible to uphold. The upshot of the McKenna judgement is that the government can’t use state funds to simply promote one side of the argument. Indeed, at the time of the first referendum, it was felt that the government was far too cautious in the light of the McKenna judgement and backed off too far from promoting its point of view. The result was the only voices being heard were those of the naysayers. You can also read the Nice debate another way. From being enthusiastic supporters of all things European, we suddenly rejected Nice. We were asked were we sure about this and we changed our minds. Another way of looking at it is voter turnout, which jumped dramatically with the second referendum. Those who didn’t bother to express an opinion on the issue came out the second time around and said they wanted Nice.
As for Prodi’s remarks, there’s nothing exceptional about them. It’s not about forcing people into something, but rather emphasising that you can’t cherry pick too much. The EU has been built on compromise. Sooner or later you have to decide whether your in or your out. Each has its own sacrifices.
If you did not feel bullied Dick, that’s fair enough, but I know I did. In a roundabout kind of way I was referring to the government decision to send a heavily slanted white paper to every household, at the taxpayers expense, which in my view directly broke the law, as seen in the McKenna judgement. The cost of this white paper did go into hundreds of thousands – but the government had no qualms about pushing the McKenna judgment to its limits. That went hand in hand with dumbing down the powers of the Referendum Commission – I would call that a concerted attempt to move the goalposts prior to the second referendum.
Furthermore that we did have a second referendum could also nullify the idea of having any future referenda at all. What’s the point? The only answer Europe wants to hear is yes, and be damned with us fogies who vote no. It has been pointed out that a referendum will be held on the Convention, but I can ask now…why? Even if we vote no, surely such a result will not be accepted, and we will have to do the whole thing again. It makes the whole idea of referenda farcical.
Yes the EU is built on compromise, but where is the compromise when Romano Prodi makes veiled threats against those who fail to follow the France/Germany line? Deciding whether your in out of the EU is not the issue, its how much you want to be a part of it. And that is every country’s right.
I would argue that I voted No because I want to stop exactly what is happening in Europe, deeper integration. Integration has gone far enough – and someone needs to say it.