Irish reject Nice Treaty

The Irish people were given a democratic vote on the Nice Treaty, something we will not get. They voted it out and this has given further inspiration to democrats throughout Europe.

BELOW ARE THE 13 DEMANDS OF THE SOS DEMOCRACY INTERGROUP IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, which should form the basis of a democratic and citizens’ EU, as against the EU of the bureaucrats and polticila centralisers. The National Platform recommends them to Irish citizens and the internatonal EU community for debate.

SOS Democracy’s 13 demands:

1. The Nice Treaty draft must be renegotiated since it weakens parliamentary democracy in our countries. It could happen as a part of the process leading to a new treaty in 2004.

2. The future EU "fundamental treaty" must not be a Constitution for an European Federation, but an international treaty respecting the parliamentary democracies and the national sovereignty of the Member States, including a recognised right to leave the European Union and clear rules for this.

3. The treaty must include a catalogue of competences and explicitly state that competence to legislate resides in national parliaments, unless the treaty gives this right, in a specified and clearly well defined area, to the European institutions.

4. The competences at EU-level must be limited to trade and common minimum rules for the environment and consumer protection, and such concrete measures which cannot be solved at nation state level because of the international nature of the problem, or the demonstrable extra value added through cooperation. The national parliaments have to decide if they want to move a decision to a higher level.

5. The supranational institutions must never again be able to develop their own competences through the Commission’s monopoly in interpreting decision-making processes, and the often revolutionary verdicts of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Instead, we could leave community initiatives to a council comprising of e.g. 20 representatives from each national parliament. They could meet twice a year and adopt the rolling program for legislation including the legal bases and eventually propose changes in the catalogue of competences. Decisions and recommendations could be taken through a qualified majority, with negotiated fair opt-outs for those countries not willing to participate in the decided areas for common legislation.

6. When the initiative is moved back to the elected, the European Commission should be accountable to the Council of Ministers and prepare balanced proposals in cooperation with the Member States. The Commission must always be composed of one representative from each national parliament, and each Commissioner must meet before a European control committee in a national parliament once weekly.

7. Negotiations over legislation must take place as public meetings in the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the national parliaments. The Council must comprise one minister from each country and each should have only one vote. The European Parliament could continue with the existing format for distribution of seats. To create a law it must be passed with majorities in both the Council and the Parliament, and also in the national parliaments. If a national parliament is not ready to adopt the common law a flexible solution can be found in a balanced opt-out, where it is seen to that the opt-out does not harm the majority of member states whilst the state in question can keep her freedom of choice.

8. The existing EU legislation, comprising more than 20.000 regulations, directives and other legally binding decisions, must be examined in order to:

a) Return to the member states all legislation that cannot be proven to be of such a nature as to justify cross-border law.

b) Introduce more freedom in legislation, and using minimum legislation and/or mutual recognition instead of total harmonisation, directives and deliberate coordination instead of regulations, framework agreements instead of too many detailed regulations etc.

c) Introduce a "sunset clause" in most pieces of legislation, making them automatically obsolete, unless they are confirmed after a reasonable period of time.

d) Introduce more flexibility so that all laws do not necessarily need to encompass and bind all citizens and countries. For instance detailed regulations on the size of strawberries should only be binding on trans-border trade between grocers without being applied at local markets and supermarkets.

e) All new legislative proposals must be subjected to a full Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) conducted at least in accordance with OECD protocols, and no such proposal may proceed unless benefits demonstrably outweigh costs.

9. The EU Charter of fundamental rights must be made more clear and amended with three important provisos attached:

a) If there is a conflict in the interpretation of the European Convention of Human Rights between the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the pan-European interpretation must be binding for the EU.

a) If there is a conflict in the interpretation of human rights and ground rules in the national constitutions or bill of rights vis--vis EU, the EU authorities must accept the interpretation made by the national high courts or constitutional courts.

b) The Charter must only bind the European institutions and those member states that decide to be bound by the charter.

10. The European institutions must adopt a modern administrative code as proposed by the European Ombudsman, which includes clear rules for openness. This includes a right of access to all documents unless a qualified majority has made a reasoned exemption. This exemption can be brought to appeal before the European Ombudsman who would have the opportunity to support a justified claim at the courts.

11. All national representatives in the EU decision-making process must be accountable, paid by and taxed by their national countries to avoid the establishment of a special European elite, looking down upon electorates.

12. All accepted democratic applicant countries must be offered full participation in the European decision making process. They must be offered flexible membership conditions including permanent derogations and long-term transition measures and adequate help to overcome their economic and environmental shortcomings.

13. Future treaties must be put up for legally binding referenda in all countries where the national constitution allows for such.

Comment by Idris Francis

Nothing in my experience of the history and objectives of the EU suggests that any one, let alone all 13, of these demands would ever be met. If they were, and properly implemented, even I might think it worth staying in!

The reality is that such total reversal of everything the EU stands for would never be accepted, and I can only hope that the inevitable refusal will force one country and then others to leave, until there is nothing left of the EU but a few empty buildings and the remains of a burned flag. Plus a few torn copies of Kinnock’s reform of EU fraud, marked ’project abandoned, file copy only’



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