EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Ireland shows EU establishment the red card’:

It is a paradox that many who criticise the EU for being undemocratic now rejoice in the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. After all, it was supposed to make the EU more democratic…so why reject an improvement to the current situation? It might not be perfect but still a small improvement would be better than no improvement.

So all those who now shout “hurray, we stopped an undemocratic monster” are living in cloud-cuckoo land: they did not stop the EU, they just prevented an improvement – a prime example of an own goal.

Secondly, the referendum again shows that EU bodies and national politicians are the authors of a classic PR disaster:

1. Letting ‘myths’ about the EU go unanswered (e.g. the myth of a neo-liberal market that promotes social dumping, the EU will force abortion onto Ireland etc.)

2. Relying on trust in the politicians: Many argued along the lines: trust us, we know what we are doing, which has no weight at all these days as politicians are among the least-trusted groups of people.

3. Using ‘Brussels’ as a punch-bag will backfire on you: Politicians who were busy deciding something at the Council of Ministers then return home and ‘blame it on Brussels’. Yes, by now, of course everyone believes this and no one can be surprised that the whole edifice is then called into question whenever people are given the opportunity – even if that overshoots the target, as is the case here.

Do not blame the Irish population – it is the ego-maniacs in politics who should blame themselves…and change their ways.

How about a referendum on the kind of Europe that one should strive for on the occasion of the next EP elections?

That would provide a wish-list on which to base a new treaty. The resulting text would then be immune from the argument that ‘no one wants this’. Negotiations would be faster, if the wish-list is clear. If such a wish-list were to yield contradictory objectives, the politicians would get a free hand (as they have to decide / balance such opposing demands) and there would not be a waste of time and effort, as the work would start after the vote, unlike now, where the work is done before and wasted in cases of rejection.

Alas, now I am living in a cloud-cuckoo land, because the politicians will try to cling desperately to what they have.

Dr. Timm Rentrop


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