The treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007 at a summit in Lisbon, Portugal and is due to come into force in 2009, if successfully ratified by all EU member states. The treaty was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution after that was thrown out by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005. Ireland will hold a referendum on the treaty on 12 June 2008.
By Joe Higgins, Socialist Party
In the Lisbon Treaty, the provisions relating to the foreign policy of the European Union and the proposed military strategy have very serious and far-reaching implications. If Lisbon is ratified, no Member State could have an independent foreign policy that was in conflict with the EU majority.
This means that, even if a big majority of the Irish people vehemently opposed, let us say, a particular EU military action outside of Europe, the Irish government would be obliged to support that action internationally.
Paragraph 27 of Lisbon states: “The Member States shall support the Union’s external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union’s action in this area.”
Not only that, but according to Paragraph 50, Irish embassies around the world would be obliged to propagate the official EU line. “The diplomatic missions of Member States… in third countries and international organisations shall cooperate and shall contribute to formulating and implementing the common approach.”
The supporters of the treaty try to cover this up by insisting that the Treaty recognises the right of ‘neutral’ countries to opt out of any military campaign.
This is true but they refuse to confirm that Ireland would be obliged to give political, moral and propaganda support. Of course, the word ‘neutral’ is utterly debased and meaningless in the context of the Irish government’s logistical support to the US Army at Shannon Airport in the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Supporters of the treaty also pour scorn on the idea that the EU would ever be involved in an Iraq-like situation, claiming that the EU is entirely a project for peace. In fact, it is not at all far-fetched to warn of the militarisation of the EU as a step to backing up its economic weight around the world, in the same way as the United States uses its armed forces.
The Common Foreign and Security Policy paragraphs speak of advancing the “vital interests” of the EU and authorises military action abroad under a very wide range of headings, such as “joint disarmament operations… military advice and assistance… tasks of combat forces in crisis management,” and, of course, “the fight against terrorism.” In fact, the language of the Lisbon Treaty has uncanny echoes of that of the Bush administration in its justification for the invasion of Iraq.
Nor is it far-fetched to sketch out an Iraq-like situation involving the EU. Recently, former British Prime Minister Blair, co-leader of the Iraq invasion, was mooted as one of the candidates for the new position of President of the European Council. According to the treaty, the President, who is appointed by the EU governments “shall ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning the common foreign and security policy.”
No less than 15 EU Member States had troops in Iraq at some stage of the occupation. With right wing governments in power in the EU, with a character like Blair as the nominal head of the union and with vital interests at stake, ie the securing of raw materials and the profits of the major corporations, we can well imagine foreign military adventures.
Lisbon, in fact, carefully creates the structures for armed intervention abroad. It demands increased military spending, and organises an EU armaments industry under the newly formed European Defence Agency.
It also allows groups of the more powerful military powers within the union to form military alliances among themselves which may then be authorised to act abroad on behalf of the EU. This would be an official EU operation and no matter what, Lisbon obliges all Member States to support it.
The militarisation strategy alone is reason enough to roundly reject the Lisbon Treaty. A ‘No’ vote in this regard is a ‘Yes’ to an end to the criminal waste of resources on armaments and to developing a foreign policy that is to the benefit of European workers and working people, the oppressed and the impoverished millions around the world.
Report of Joe Higgins in a TV debate on the Lisbon Treaty: Former Socialist Party TD (MP) condemns attacks on workers’ rights
No to privatisation
Big business interests are highly organised within the EU. For example, 45 of the biggest EU based multinational corporations are organised in a group called The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT).
Included are giants like Siemens, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle and Heineken. Between them, they have an annual turnover of â‚¬1,300 billion and employ 3.8 million workers.
This economic power gives big business organisations like the ERT huge political influence also. What is considered good for the profits of big business is good for Europe.
The Lisbon Treaty lays the basis for a further extension of privatisation. It calls for a system in the ‘internal market’ to ensure ‘that competition is not distorted’ and calls for ‘uniformity in measures of liberalisation.’ This is code for hiving off to the corporate sector important parts of public services, the most profitable parts of course.
The alternative to the neo-liberal policies in the Lisbon Treaty is a socialist approach. The main corporations and major financial institutions should be put under public ownership and democratic workers’ control.
In this way, resources could be planned for the benefit of the majority, public services could be improved dramatically and decent wages and working conditions implemented for workers.
In essence we stand for a democratic workers’ Europe, rather than the big business club that currently operates.