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Old November 12th, 2009, 08:37 PM   #1
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The Lisbon Treaty

Most of you probably know that the Lisbon Treaty was signed by the Czech president a bit over a week ago and that it is now set to go into effect come December. What are your thoughts on it and how do you feel about the British conservatives' response to it (they are very opposed to it, feeling that it threatens sovereignty)?

Personally, I am with the British conservatives on this one, especially because of the sovereignty issue. I find it very interesting how accurate the founders of the EU were in their predictions of the progression of the system. Personally, I feel this is a huge loss of freedom for the European people and in the long run it could be devastating to them.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 06:37 AM   #2
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What are your thoughts on it?
1. I dislike the treaty and i dislike the EU as a whole.

2. It will be the basis for more EU myths.

3. There are good bits and bad bits.

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how do you feel about the British conservatives' response to it (they are very opposed to it, feeling that it threatens sovereignty)?
Firstly, they haven't been as opposed to it as you think. The Tories (Conservatives to you) got the UK into the EU in the first place, remember.

The opposition always hates the EU, the incumbents always love it - that's because it gives power to the Government and away from Parliament and the people.

Also, it does not challenge sovereignty. Article I-5 of the European Constitution expressly forbids that. Also, it was ratified by the Government as necessitated.

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Personally, I feel this is a huge loss of freedom for the European people
Not really. There are some nasty parts like, for example, the ECJ now has direct fining powers for those that break EU law. But the commission fined people before on the basis of ECJ findings anyway, so it's not all that much of a change.

What i'm really annoyed about is the confirmation of the ECB as an EU insitution. It is a private organisation and now has recognised power. It is highly influenced by corporate lobby groups anyway. Basically, the whole of the EU can be expected to turn ito a huge, profiteering capitalists' club.

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in the long run it could be devastating to them.
If it does become devastating, the Lisbon Treaty actually brings in a law that says if member states want to get out of the EU, the EU has to facilitate that wish. Though Greenland managed without in '85, however.

Personally, i think we should follow Greenland's route and get out quick, but there's a lot of false propaganda about the thing.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 11:31 AM   #3
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I am with you in that European nations should really consider leaving the EU because the direction it is heading in really could be devastating. You say it does not affect sovereignty, but like you said it gives the EU more power over the member states- including not allowing them to leave without the EU "facilitating" that wish. In my opinion, that is a move away from sovereignty and I think the problem that many people have with it is that it sets a precedent for further EU power over the member states. We need to remember that the leaders of the EU are not directly elected by the people either, so more power to them is given without the people's consent.

About the "capitalist's club"- capitalism is great (in my opinion, I know you differ on that issue and this thread probably isn't the best place to debate that again ) but the EU will not further capitalism because it regulates a lot and redistributes wealth. A governmental organization never furthers capitalism because capitalism is about markets and the private sector, not the public sector. It may further corporatism though, which is what you seem worried about with the big businesses gaining excessive power, but corporatism is NOT capitalism. I am against corporatism too Without the governmental power that corporatism would never even exist.

As for the Torie reaction, I will have to read more about that because I am not fully read up on British politics, especially in relation to the EU. I do remember seeing somewhere that it was British conservatives that were against this- perhaps it was written by an American and they meant people with conservative (by a more American definition) ideals instead of particularly the Tories? I will have to look into that though...
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Old November 14th, 2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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I am with you in that European nations should really consider leaving the EU because the direction it is heading in really could be devastating.
Well, I agree that it is a threat to democracy and is a means of pointless institutionalisation. And that we should leave it. Whether it can ever become a superstate is debatable. It's illegal, for a start, plus I doubt that a state would willingly relinquish sovereignty - its aspiration is to collect it.

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You say it does not affect sovereignty, but like you said it gives the EU more power over the member states- including not allowing them to leave without the EU "facilitating" that wish. In my opinion, that is a move away from sovereignty
Oh no, you've got me quite wrong. It means the EU must facilitate a member state's wish to leave it. It gives more freedom to member states to leave and it means the EU must accept it. It's a good thing.

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I think the problem that many people have with it is that it sets a precedent for further EU power over the member states. We need to remember that the leaders of the EU are not directly elected by the people either, so more power to them is given without the people's consent.
Well... sort of right.

The people directly elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

MEPs elect the EU Commission, which makes up bills.

The MEPs vote on the bill.

The Council of the European Union is made of one Government minister from every member state.

Then there's the European Council, which is made up from the heads of member Governments.

So, everyone's democratically elected. Not directly, but still. Moreover, directives and treaties have to be ratified by the member state Govenments.

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About the "capitalist's club"- capitalism is great (in my opinion, I know you differ on that issue and this thread probably isn't the best place to debate that again ) but the EU will not further capitalism because it regulates a lot and redistributes wealth. A governmental organization never furthers capitalism because capitalism is about markets and the private sector, not the public sector. It may further corporatism though, which is what you seem worried about with the big businesses gaining excessive power, but corporatism is NOT capitalism. I am against corporatism too Without the governmental power that corporatism would never even exist.
I admit i was using the term rather loosely. But the point of the EU is to create a common market. It involves the free movement of goods and labour. The ECB is a tool of the very rich to get favourable conditions for themselves. It's completely unaccountable.

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As for the Torie reaction, I will have to read more about that because I am not fully read up on British politics, especially in relation to the EU. I do remember seeing somewhere that it was British conservatives that were against this- perhaps it was written by an American and they meant people with conservative (by a more American definition) ideals instead of particularly the Tories? I will have to look into that though...
There is a bit of a misconception here. A lot of people presume that it's only the right wing or conservatives that oppose the EU. However, it faces stark opposition from the left as well. I, for example, am a passionate internationalist, but i also dislike the EU. And people with far more definable positions than i on the left oppos it as well. Indeed the Labor Party (which used to be left wing, but isn't any longer) always had to instigate referendums on the EU because the party disagreed amongst itself so much on the EU.

The Conservative Party, traditionally the voice of the capitalists, but is now to the left of Labour (but still right wing), is also split on the issue. Some MPs are against it, some are for the EU. The true anti-EU party in the UK is the mildly right-wing (a little more than Labour and the Tories) UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party).
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Old November 14th, 2009, 02:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
Well, I agree that it is a threat to democracy and is a means of pointless institutionalisation. And that we should leave it. Whether it can ever become a superstate is debatable. It's illegal, for a start, plus I doubt that a state would willingly relinquish sovereignty - its aspiration is to collect it.
It may be unthinkable to many at this point, but nothing happens over night. If you look at the history of the EU, the organization has incrementally moved from an integration of the steel/coal industries of Europe to a larger spectrum of economic unity to now even political unity in some areas. Some of the original founders actually believed in a pan-European movement, which they thought the EU would eventually lead to.

Most people would not be willingly to simply give up sovereignty, but the problem is with a more powerful EU, especially one that has political power over member states, that change could happen gradually. The passing of Lisbon and who actually was able to vote directly for the major change is an example.

Let's hope for the sake of the people that this does not happen, but I think Lisbon could potentially set the early precedent for such an occurrence.

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Oh no, you've got me quite wrong. It means the EU must facilitate a member state's wish to leave it. It gives more freedom to member states to leave and it means the EU must accept it. It's a good thing.
Sorry about that, I misunderstood your words. Again, the structure of the EU and European politics isn't exactly my forte, although I have started to read up on it more lately. Hopefully you and the other European members here can keep me in check if I say something that isn't quite true

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Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
I admit i was using the term rather loosely. But the point of the EU is to create a common market. It involves the free movement of goods and labour. The ECB is a tool of the very rich to get favourable conditions for themselves. It's completely unaccountable.
It doesn't exactly create a free movement of goods/labor though as there are many regulations it sets in place that restrict free trade. A truly free movement of goods/labor would actually require less government, not more.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 08:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myp View Post
It may be unthinkable to many at this point, but nothing happens over night. If you look at the history of the EU, the organization has incrementally moved from an integration of the steel/coal industries of Europe to a larger spectrum of economic unity to now even political unity in some areas. Some of the original founders actually believed in a pan-European movement, which they thought the EU would eventually lead to.
Well, the EEC transformed into the EU with the signing of a single treaty.

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Most people would not be willingly to simply give up sovereignty,
It has nothing to do with the people. Just the member state Governments.

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the problem is with a more powerful EU, especially one that has political power over member states, that change could happen gradually. The passing of Lisbon and who actually was able to vote directly for the major change is an example.
The issue of sovereignty is still with the member states. The EU can only become a superstate if a treaty is passed. A treaty has to be ratified by member states' Governments. Not to mention the European Council and the Council of the EU, which involves only members of member-state Governments. At least one of them, if not both, requires unanimous decision.

Quote:
Let's hope for the sake of the people that this does not happen, but I think Lisbon could potentially set the early precedent for such an occurrence.
What the EU actually does is puts too much powers in the hands of the member state Governments, rather than the whole of the legislative houses. That's why parties in power are always pro-EU. We must remember that the EU is a sum of its parts. Everything is ultimately subjective to member-state Governments.

Quote:
Sorry about that, I misunderstood your words. Again, the structure of the EU and European politics isn't exactly my forte, although I have started to read up on it more lately. Hopefully you and the other European members here can keep me in check if I say something that isn't quite true
No worries. I know a lot of Europeans who don't understand fully the EU. I only know because i read a few books on it recently.

Quote:
It doesn't exactly create a free movement of goods/labor though as there are many regulations it sets in place that restrict free trade. A truly free movement of goods/labor would actually require less government, not more.
It certainly creates free-er movement of goods and labour. The Schengen zone was instigated by the EU, which facilitated and provided a means for member states to organise it among themselves. The problems it causes end up being solved by means of state capitalism, which helps nothing and which we are both opposed to.

Last edited by Dirk; November 15th, 2009 at 09:58 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #7
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What I am saying concerning sovereignty is that it is at risk if the EU keeps going down the road it currently is. The EU has certainly gotten stronger over the years and Lisbon expands the realm of its power into various new sectors including a stronger role in education, health, energy, etc. legislation. It also further unifies defense policies. Furthermore, with a smaller EU commission (which will no longer include all of the member states at one time) and a stronger EU Parliament (with less representatives as well,) the EU certainly has more power. I understand what you are saying about the member states holding a lot of that power, but Lisbon also changes the presidency so that it is not a member-state national. From my understanding, the EU, especially with Lisbon, gives more power to the organization as a self-standing entity, and while it still leaves a lot of power with member states as well, that is more concentrated with the bigger, more influential states (France, Germany, Italy.)

As for the aspect of trade, I see what you are saying in that the EU freed trade (of course not completely) by perhaps breaking down protectionist policies. Like you said though, the current structure is often counter-productive and free trade treaties between member states would be more efficient.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 10:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by myp View Post
What I am saying concerning sovereignty is that it is at risk if the EU keeps going down the road it currently is. The EU has certainly gotten stronger over the years and Lisbon expands the realm of its power into various new sectors including a stronger role in education, health, energy, etc. legislation. It also further unifies defense policies. Furthermore, with a smaller EU commission (which will no longer include all of the member states at one time) and a stronger EU Parliament (with less representatives as well,) the EU certainly has more power. I understand what you are saying about the member states holding a lot of that power, but Lisbon also changes the presidency so that it is not a member-state national. From my understanding, the EU, especially with Lisbon, gives more power to the organization as a self-standing entity, and while it still leaves a lot of power with member states as well, that is more concentrated with the bigger, more influential states (France, Germany, Italy.)
The commission are the ones that make up the law.

The change of emphasis towards the EU Parliament is a democratising measure, actually. The EU Parliament is directly elected by the people, the commission is elected by the EU Parliament.

Member state Governments like the EU because it provides someone to blame and also gives the Government powers that it doesn't have to share or refer to the legislative houses. It gives Governments more control.

I understand what you mean but I studied International Relations and i'm of a "Realist" persuasion, so i believe that a Government would never willingly relinquish sovereignty.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #9
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I am pretty realist when it comes to international relations as well (especially on the military/sovereignty issues- not so much on economics) but my point is that this is an incremental step in the direction where a state may be forced to give up sovereignty or simply have the illusion of sovereignty, when in reality it is entangled in alliances and treaties forced by the EU.

An interesting piece I found on the WSJ today concerning this topic: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...765988056.html
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Old November 17th, 2009, 10:06 PM   #10
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I have to agree with MYP on the EU becoming a Super State, in fact I think it is already there. Particularly with regard to the economy and creating huge conglomerates that have monopolies over all aspects of industry and the economy in Europe. All you have to do is look at the product wrappings and list of languages describing its ingredients, and that should give a very practical illustration of how far this has progressed.

The usual with conglomerates like that is bribery and corruption, very soon we will be hearing about excesses etc and corrupt Government officials.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #11
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treaties forced by the EU.
Surely you realise treaties have to be ratified by member state Governments?
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Old November 18th, 2009, 09:36 AM   #12
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Surely you realise treaties have to be ratified by member state Governments?
It does not require 100% "yes" votes to pass though, so some nations that voted against it could still be forced to do things.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 01:35 PM   #13
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It does not require 100% "yes" votes to pass though,
Um, yes it does? Unanimous agreement is required by all member state Governments. Some nations' constitutions require a referendum. Others allow for a more direct ratification - the UK's demands only that the Government must agree to it. The UK Government is made up of one hundred MPs from the MPs in the majority party. That stinks of democratic deficit. I appreciate your concern about a threat to sovereignty, but as far as i'm aware, this is unfounded. That's not to say that the EU is not anti-democratic, as i hope i have demonstrated to you.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 06:40 PM   #14
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Um, yes it does? Unanimous agreement is required by all member state Governments. Some nations' constitutions require a referendum. Others allow for a more direct ratification - the UK's demands only that the Government must agree to it. The UK Government is made up of one hundred MPs from the MPs in the majority party. That stinks of democratic deficit. I appreciate your concern about a threat to sovereignty, but as far as i'm aware, this is unfounded. That's not to say that the EU is not anti-democratic, as i hope i have demonstrated to you.
Unanimous vote is not required for everything though. It is good if national governments still have laws to say their government still needs to agree, but that would just go in conflict with the EU commission's duty of enforcing EU treaties are followed through upon.

On the unanimity issue, here is a direct quotation from the EU website:
Quote:
According to the Treaties, the Council has to take its decisions either by a simple majority vote, a ?qualified majority? vote or unanimously, depending on the subject to be decided.


The Council has to agree unanimously on important questions such as amending the Treaties, launching a new common policy or allowing a new country to join the Union.
While you are right about unanimity on amendments, other decisions can still be taken without unanimity. That not only sets a precedent, but is also a threat to sovereignty, even if the decisions are small. The actual national governments, let alone the people of that nation, don't have a say in those issues if the majority agrees.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 06:44 AM   #15
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Yes, with important decisions, there must be a unanimous agreement in the Council of the EU, as your quotation states. Lesser issues are often decided by majority voting or QMV. Right, you already know this. Good.

Obviously, the Council of the EU is told which laws are decided how by treaties. The treaties are signed by every member state Government (unanimously). This is not a decision within the EU bureaucracy, but between member state Governments themselves. As I've said, some countries require a referendum and others don't. Also, some countries require the treaty is inspected by constitutional courts etc.

It is true, however, you are quite correct in saying, that some small, minor issues are decided in the context of the tyranny of the majority. Though minor decisions are hardly a threat to sovereignty.

What also must be remembered is that the Council of the EU is not the only member-Government involving institution within the EU. You musn't forget the European Council, which is a quite separate institution. Also, in the case of directives, it requires member Governments' voluntary participation in choosing whether and how to implement the law.

There is a saying among the anti-EU Right-wing alarmists. "75% of our laws are made by the EU". The wording often fluctuates between 75 and 80% depending on how ridiculous a figure the person is. They neglect to mention that it is illegal (fittingly by EU law) that an EU law imposes itself on a member state's sovereignty and the member state Governments participate quite fully in every process. Not to mention that the treaties allowing this were made by member-state Governments in the first place.

The rightists say "we'd better get out while we can", yet the Lisbon Treaty actually formalises that it is the right of a member state to withdraw. And when the treaty comes into force in December, i think we should take that opportunity.

It is not our sovereignty that is at risk, so far as I can see, but our democracy. My point is that it's Governments who play such a large role in making EU law. The Parliament doesn't have a say in making the laws. That's the danger. The Government isn't giving away power, as everyone seems to be (rather naively) convinced it is, but gathering power, which is what a Government (or indeed state itself) naturally does.

The only sovereignty at risk that i can see is the sovereignty of the people and the risk of the subsequent parasitic growth of an anti-democratic, power-hungry political elite. The great thing for them is that they can then blame it on the EU!
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Old November 20th, 2009, 03:24 AM   #16
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The only sovereignty at risk that i can see is the sovereignty of the people and the risk of the subsequent parasitic growth of an anti-democratic, power-hungry political elite. The great thing for them is that they can then blame it on the EU!
Is that any different from blaming the President and his administration in the United States? Same ol' same ol' everywhere in so-called "democracies".
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Old November 20th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #17
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Is that any different from blaming the President and his administration in the United States? Same ol' same ol' everywhere in so-called "democracies".
12 out of 10, my good man.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #18
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Is that any different from blaming the President and his administration in the United States? Same ol' same ol' everywhere in so-called "democracies".
I don't see the comparison here because in the EU situation Dirk is saying that the governments can shift blame to the EU. While blame is sometimes shifted to the President here in the states, Congress is often equally responsible in sharing the blame and people- especially after the recent crisis- are really starting to get on Congress as well.

And as for democracy, remember that most of these countries, including the US, are republics, not democracies. Just a technicality, but just pointing it out.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 08:05 AM   #19
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And as for democracy, remember that most of these countries, including the US, are republics, not democracies. Just a technicality, but just pointing it out.
Also, as any political scientist will tell you, the US is not a democracy, but a plutocracy.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #20
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Also, as any political scientist will tell you, the US is not a democracy, but a plutocracy.
That is an opinion and not all political historians will say that the US is a plutocracy. In fact, I think most of them would argue it isn't, but I am not sure of the exact numbers on this opinion. Constitutionally, we certainly aren't but I guess people may argue it due to our current campaign finance situation. I personally, still do not believe that, but some may.

On another note, maybe we should start a new thread if we want to further discuss this issue since it is not on topic for this thread (that is probably my fault since I brought up the republic point anyway )
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