Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The Lisbon Treaty: Why so unpopular?

It’s the single most important question – because without an answer, how can the EU progress? Brian Barder has a good stab at providing an answer – well worth reading in full:

most of the sentiments, worries and concerns contributing to the No vote in the referendum are widely shared in many other EU countries; few are unique to Ireland, and those that are probably have similar counterparts elsewhere in the EU. The people of some EU countries differ from the Irish in exhibiting a high level of antipathy to the whole European project: the UK is certainly one of these, and some of the new eastern and central European countries (and/or their leaders) are others. Even those who are generally pro-European are often critical of the lack of transparency of many of the processes of the EU, of the centripetal tendencies of the Commission, of the failure to clean up the Union’s finances, of what is rather vaguely referred to as the democratic deficit. All such tendencies will tend to predispose a goodly number of individual European voters to vote No in a referendum on almost any proposition recommended to them by their political leaders, however intrinsically innocuous.

The only trouble with all this is, of course, that the “why” ends up complicating the issue yet further. Rather than being merely an Irish problem, or merely a European one, the Irish “no” ends up due to global concerns – and, let’s face it, what isn’t a global issue these days?

This makes the “No” problem far harder to solve, for sure. But it also surely helps underscore just how ineffective individual nation states have become at dealing with problems that are increasingly global in scale. Strength in numbers sounds like an ever safer bet the more the economy suffers jitters and the more that globalisation continues.

This is something that the whole EU can, with any luck, start to get behind – because it’s the whole reason that pretty much every member state joined in the first place. Its the economy, stupid – and I’d say it’s about time the various leaders of the various EU member states began to remember that. The fancy bits and high ideals can come later – the first step is to bolster the economic base. That was the initial aim of the European Project, after all. The EU should remember that it needs to learn to walk before it tries sprinting…

Note: This is another in an apparently ongoing series of occasional posts where I’m effectively thinking out loud. I’ll have changed my mind again in a couple of hours, most likely…