The Treaty of Nice
The Supranational state inches closer
Suggested voting power in the Council of Ministers:
Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Turkey: 33 votes each; Spain and Poland: 26 votes; Romania: 14 votes; Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary: 10 votes; Sweden, Austria and Bulgaria: 8 votes; Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Lithuania: 6 votes each; and Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta: 3 votes each.
The treaty due to be agreed in Nice on 9 December will entirely change the economic, political and military face of Europe. But quite likely you may not have noticed, because it has all happened in quiet little steps. Nice is only the next stage, but it represents nonetheless a momentous abrogation of national democracy.
50 years to the Superstate
The process began after the last World War, with France and Germany agreeing to pool the coal and steel industries in the Ruhr so there should never be another (4th) German Franco War. Fifty years down the road, and several treaties later (Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam), governments are about to agree to a superstate, beyond anything of which Charlemagne might have dreamt.
Its a superstate called the EU, which will reach from Portugal to the Caucasus, and even beyond, with a common currency and economy, based on protectionism of markets and private corporate interests; the centralised control of fiscal and monetary policy; a common constitution and body of laws, and an army, courts and a police force - in effect a state - to enforce these laws and extend its territory, markets resources and power.
We in Ireland are, however insignificant, a part of it. In the EU Council of Ministers for the enlarged union envisaged of 28 states, there will be 363 votes, of which Ireland will have a total of 6 votes (1.7%).
The new treaty
The Nice Treaty, as envisaged, will cover Enlargement; Extended majority voting (reducing the national vetoes); a `corpus juris', with an EU police body to enforce it; and the militarisation of the EU through agreement to the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF).
Commentators also see the seeds of a further treaty, which will establish, possibly even by majority voting, an EU constitution, superior in law to national constitutions. Furthermore, some expect the creation of a European Court of Justice (ECJ), superior to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights, which would place ultimate control within the EU over all human rights for its projected 300 million inhabitants.
Enlargement is designed to bring Southern and Eastern European states into the fold, whilst maintaining the power of the central block, the inner core group, over the smaller states. Commentators doubt that this queue of applicants, many of which are ex-Comecon states, will gain access for some years yet, but meanwhile these newly-fledged `national democracies' will aim to incorporate the EU's 20,000 laws into their domestic law and straightjacket their economies to conform to EU entry conditions. It is political and economic domination, without any corresponding obligations by the EU core group.
There is much debate in the media about whether the Dublin government will keep its single commissioner. It's a matter of little relevance to anyone except redundant national politicians in search of a well paid job, or those who like to dispense patronage. It is the Council of Ministers that makes EU laws, (not the parliament or the commissioners). Here, with our 6 out of 363 votes, 106 votes constitutes a blocking minority.
Reducing the power of veto
The current French Presidency has proposed 43 policy areas where majority voting should replace the unanimity rule. These areas include legislation on Value Added Tax, excise duties, capital taxation and environmental taxes, and even unemployment benefit. It is, of course, the inevitable corollary of the Single Market and common currency that fiscal (taxation and expenditure) policy should be decided centrally by the EU state, over the heads of national governments. It's just another small step which flouts a most basic tenet of democracy, ``No taxation without representation''.
It is also expected that the Nice Treaty may clear a path for the adoption of a `corpus juris', which means an EU supra-national criminal and civil law, to be enforced by the EU police body, Europol. There is already talk of Garda Commissioner Byrne taking up a job here on his forthcoming retirement. The harmonisation of national legal procedures might well lead to the end of jury trials, the introduction of preventative detention, inquisitorial judges.
What did we sell?
thony Coughlan of the National Platform, an organisation which has consistently explained and campaigned against Ireland's participation in the developing EU superstate, warns that ``proposals for majority voting in the justice, criminal and legal area raise profound issues of civil liberties that should concern every citizen''.
d then, after all this, there is the militarisation of Europe and beyond, and the assumed `right' to peace-make, through war, across the globe in defence of the economic and political interests of the core EU states.
All these momentous changes will take place in Nice, or perhaps in Helsinki, if ministers cannot agree this week. But take place they surely will, without so much as a by your leave addressed to the Irish people. The (EU) money was fine, but what did it buy? We'll be finding out fairly soon.