Then they came back with a new version, which has fewer pages because the print was smaller but more words and which had dropped references to a flag and an anthem, thus making it, or so we were told, completely different from a constitution.
As it happens the United States Constitution has no references to anthems or flags (neither was in existence at the time) but it is still a constitution. So there was the Lisbon Treaty, which still proposed the creation of a President and announced that the supremacy of European law, hitherto decided on by Parliament, would now be based on the
There are a few other matters of import but, as it happens, most of what it says is already in existence in the Consolidated Treaties. The Lisbon Treaty serves a double purpose: it pushes the project further and without movement that does not exist; and it shows to us the people of European countries who is really the master.
This time round the political establishment both at the EU and member states levels was quite savvy: no referendums. You cannot predict their outcome. Unfortunately, the Irish Supreme Court decided that according to the Irish Constitution there had to be a referendum on the
Let us consider the situation as it is now and the various options after tomorrow.
Apart from Ireland there are still two countries that have not ratified, the Czech Republic and Poland. Germany ratified just before last Sunday’s election (a little present for whoever was going to win) though as the Boss over on EURef has noted, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was not aware of that when he last gave a long interview. Or, perhaps he gave the interview before the German ratification and the editor did not know enough to correct that.
In the Czech Republic a group of senators has sent the treaty to the Constitutional Court for the second time.
The court should say whether the EU under the Lisbon Treaty would remain an international organisation or become a "super-state," ODS senator Jiri Oberfalzer, one of the senators who submitted the complaint on Tuesday afternoon, told the Czech press agency.Meanwhile, according to the same article on EUObserver, the country is being threatened with loss of a place on the Commission and President Klaus is being threatened with possible impeachment if he does not sign, which he will not do ahead of the legal decision. President Kaczynski of Poland is waiting on developments in the Czech Republic.
Czech senators had previously filed a narrower case about certain aspects of the treaty, but the court last year ruled that the articles were not in breach of the country's constitution.
All of which means that media hysteria about Tony Blair becoming EU President in the next few weeks is a little premature. There will be no EU President until all the member states have ratified the treaty. As it happens, I am not bothered by the prospect of President Blair. I do not want anyone to be president and Blair’s grinning face reappearing on our media will turn even more people away from the project. Besides, I am not sure his star is quite as much in the ascendant as the Times article thinks. There are other member states in the EU and they might not want Blair as President.
Talking of media hysteria there are headlines out there about the Irish referendum and the “future of Europe” as if we were talking about the Normandy invasion. Europe will still be here even if the Irish vote no again. In fact, Europe might start recovering its true historical heritage though, as it happens, the EU will also still be here.
Seventy-five or eighty per cent of our legislation will still be coming from Brussels, most of it not even touching Parliament, which, in any case, has not the right to reject anything. The EU’s legislative structure that is managerial rather than political and disregards such details as elections or change of parties in power will continue.
It is very hard to predict what will happen later today. Opinion polls tend to favour the yes side but so they did last time and they were wrong.
As I have said before, the man who most fervently wishes for a no vote must be Mr Cameron, for there is a strong chance that this particular treaty will then be off the table while a new one is prepared and he will be able to wriggle off the hook of that referendum.
If the Irish vote yes then Mr Cameron will be hoping that the Czech situation will be solved before May 2010 when he will, as things stand, become Prime Minister. It must be his worst nightmare that he will be faced with a situation when the first few months of his premiership will be taken up by legislation for referendum, a campaign and then the vote with which he will not know what to do.
There is always the possibility that somewhere between the legislation and the actual vote the Czechs and the Poles do ratify if they had not done before and Cameron will be left with a pointless referendum. In any case, if the country votes no, what will he do? Tear up the Instruments? Renegotiate?
It is not altogether surprising that he has been hinting ever so gently that there will be no referendum on the
It will, of course, be awfully nice to have the Irish vote no; the treaty is an abomination, though no worse than Maastricht, but, much more to the point, it will be nice to watch the eurocrats’ faces and hear their screams.
But even if they get their treaty (and they are determined to get it) the victory will be a Pyrrhic one. The outcome of the bullying, lying and other shenanigans that characterized the campaigns around the Constitution for Europe and, even more so, the Lisbon Treaty is that far more people in the various member states view the project with suspicion and dislike.
Its inevitability is no longer obvious; the gap between the elite that is blatantly determined to impose its chosen political structures on the people and those people is ever larger; the legitimacy of the EU is weaker than ever and grows daily more so. And a yes vote today in Ireland may well speed that process up. Indeed, if the Irish vote yes, we may well date the beginning of the EU’s disintegration October 2, 2009.