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Friday, October 02, 2009

Lisbon in action

As Irish voters go to the polls today for the second time on the Lisbon Treaty (welcome to Venezuela the European Union), there is growing coverage of the news that Tony Blair is in all liklihood set to become the first EU President within a matter of weeks. This news was first uncovered by Open Europe as we reported on secret meetings hosted by the Swedish EU Presidency.

Most people in Britain and indeed Europe thought they'd seen the back of Blair when he left the House of Commons in 2007, saying, "That's it - it's the end."

But no doubt partly thanks to the invaluable work of his good friend Peter Mandelson in keeping the flagging Labour government alive long enough to get Lisbon enforced, Blair could be flying around the world in Blair Force One before we've started saving up for Christmas.

Assuming that the new EU President will be paid the same as the President of the European Commission, Jose Barroso, this means he or she will receive roughly the same basic salary as Barack Obama - the democratically-elected President of the United States.

Just think about that for a moment. A man voted in after years of high-profile campaigning and public debate and with the support of 69 million people, will be rubbing shoulders on the world stage with a man who just weeks before his election has not had a public word to say about the idea, and who will be nominated by 14 people (a majority of Heads of State, as per the Lisbon Treaty) behind closed doors in a meeting in Brussels, with no public input, not even from national parliaments.

And the people pulling the strings in the corridors of Brussels are amazingly arrogant about it. This week an unnamed senior French diplomat commented that although most people in Europe will be against the idea of Blair for EU President, because of his position on the Iraq war, that makes no difference at all, because "only public opinion is concerned about this, not the 27 Heads of State and Government that will vote him in".

Who, among the 'yes' campaign can honestly say this is not a step backwards for democracy in Europe? Amont many others, Brigid Laffan of the Ireland for Europe campaign has marked her campaign with shrill and hysterical outbursts against British people calling for a 'no' vote. If she is so anti-British, how can she possibly support the idea of Blair as EU President for the next two and a half years? Because that is what Irish people will be voting for today if they approve the Lisbon Treaty.

The same goes for all those Lib Dem delegates at conference a couple of weeks ago, who supported a motion saying Blair must not become EU President. Bit late for that, Lib Dems. It's precisely thanks to your "leader" Nick Clegg that such a position can even be created in the first place, given that he controversially allowed the Lisbon Treaty to sail through Parliament without the referendum he promised in his manifesto. Even if we wanted to, Britain wouldn't actually be able to stop Blair becoming EU President, because he only needs the support of a majority of EU heads of state.

This is probably just the first of many, many concrete and all-too-real examples of why Lisbon is bad news that will, if the Treaty is passed, start to hit us one by one over the coming months and years as we face up to the full implications of what we have done by allowing this to happen.

1 comment:

Ralf Grahn said...

The President of the European Council is 'elected' by a qualified majority, but it is still a small electorate (27).

The European Council could and should allow for open nominations and public debate before it takes the decision (if the Irish vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty).