June 29, 2008
Two years ago Dutch and French voters rejected the European Constitution, which was to have ceded substantial remaining national sovereignty, perhaps irretrievably, to a European superstate. Dutch and French citizenry can be forgiven for thinking their votes were dispositive, that the absorption and destruction of the EU’s 27 member states’ had gone far enough. The EU’s political elites simply repackaged their political manifesto under the Lisbon Treaty, which Valery Giscard d’Estaing acknowledged was virtually the same as the rejected constitution.
EU political Brahmins hold their electorates in contempt and wherever possible have avoided letting the people vote on a momentous ceding of sovereignty. They would have bypassed a referendum in Ireland too, but the Irish constitution inconveniently required a vote and vote the Irish did. With the entire Irish political establishment and Brussels Eurocrats supporting the Lisbon Treaty, Irish voters said “stop!” They said stop for Ireland and for voters in all the other EU nation states who would have said no if they had been permitted a vote.
The great champion of liberty Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the EU must abide by its own rules, that the Lisbon Treaty must be ratified by every EU member in order to come into force. Ireland rejected it therefore it cannot come into force. Klaus may be unduly optimistic. Brussels’ political elites have been only too happy to ignore their own rules when it suits.
The preferred path for Brussels and Ireland’s political establishments will be to have the Irish vote again and again and again on cosmetically touched up treaties, until they get it right, at which point there will be no more votes.
However, what’s in their interest? Would the Irish gain greater freedom, prosperity and security by ceding yet more sovereignty and falling deeper into the maw of Brussels?
From Ireland’s standpoint the status quo would appear eminently satisfactory.
The Celtic Tiger’s economic performance over the last several decades has been stupendous relative to sclerotic Belgium, France, Germany and the rest of Old Europe. Ireland lowered taxes and along with New Zealand is one of only a few counties to have reduced government as a percent of GDP.
The Heritage Institute’s Freedom Index ranks Ireland the third freest economy in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore. France ranks a dismal 48th, Italy 64th and Greece 80th.
There is another at first blush more radical option. Ireland could turn westward and petition to join the United States. In “Why Britain should join America” historian Paul Johnson argued Britain should join the United States “leaving behind the stagnancy and depressing statism of Europe.” Johnson argued that Britain was more compatible culturally, economically and politically with America and that its prospects would be better off as part of an expanded English-speaking Republic than in thrall to a continental regulatory yoke. Much of his case obtains for Ireland as well.
Moreover, Americans of all political stripes romanticize and have enormous affection for the Irish, notwithstanding that Ireland has not always been a stalwart ally like other English-speaking nations such as Britain and Australia. Congress would stampede to welcome the first new state since 1959. Ten thousand Irishmen parachuted into Boston or New York would fit quite comfortably, far better than in Frankfurt, Rome or Athens.
If it joined the US Ireland might also lay the basis for a genuine North Atlantic free trade area, which would have huge benefit for North America and Europe.Author : Eric Grover