Vaclav Klaus gets opt-out, EU clears hurdle to Lisbon treaty

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BBC NEWS

EU clears hurdle to Lisbon treaty

File:Vaclav Klaus headshot.jpg

Vaclav Klaus

EU leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed a deal designed to win Czech backing of the Lisbon Treaty, clearing a major hurdle to its ratification.

The Czechs were granted an opt-out from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, similar to that of the UK and Poland.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus was satisfied with the concession, Czech PM Jan Fischer told reporters in Brussels.

But EU leaders failed to agree on funding for a climate change pact to help developing nations.

Ratification deal

“The road to ratification stands open,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Do the majority of leaders want someone who can get a hearing at the White House, or do they want someone who will build consensus within the European Union?

Gavin Hewitt, BBC Europe editor

The Czech Republic is the only one of the 27 EU nations which has not ratified the treaty, which aims to streamline how the bloc operates.

The BBC’s Oana Lungescu in Brussels said Mr Klaus – an ardent Eurosceptic – had feared that without the opt-out, the charter would allow thousands of ethnic Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II to reclaim their lands.

“Vaclav Klaus was content with the text. He has been informed about all modifications… and does not have a problem with it,” PM Fischer said after EU leaders agreed on the text at a summit.

But the opt-out is not the final hurdle to Prague’s ratification. The Czech Constitutional Court is expected to rule next week on whether the treaty complies with the country’s constitution.

But EU leaders are now free to discuss who will fill the post of president of the European Council, which the Lisbon Treaty will create.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker have been touted as the leading candidates for the job.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reiterated his support for Mr Blair, saying he would make an “excellent” first president of the European Union.

Climate woes

On climate change, the EU failed to reach a united position ahead of December’s United Nations Copenhagen summit, which aims to hammer out a new global climate treaty to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol.

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67 thoughts on “Vaclav Klaus gets opt-out, EU clears hurdle to Lisbon treaty

  1. No, this information is not correct.
    Have a look at Motl’s blog about the subject here:
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/10/eu-summit-on-global-warming-and-vaclav.html
    There is a chance that the EU decision will vetoed by hungry and Austria:
    Quote: “However, things will probably not be quite smooth. Various officials in Austria and Hungary have declared their determination to veto any concessions to the Czech Republic”
    Besides that, the Lisbon Treaty is currently checked by the Czech High Court to determine if it’s compatible with the countries own Constitution.
    The Czech High Court has stated it will present it’s finding on Tuesday next week, but it is possible they postpone the outcome as they already did once before.
    And what will happen if there report is negative?
    Until check is finished, the Court has forbidden Klaus to sign.
    Klaus will play his cards to the max.

  2. I don’t pretend to understand how the EU works, but hats off to the Czechs for at least acknowledging they still have a constitution. Hopefully that is a trend that more countries will follow as the Debacle in Copenhagen firms up.

  3. God forbid this ever gets ratified. there were 2 World wars to prevent this!
    If there is a God, pray for help!
    DaveE.

  4. “The Czech Republic is the only one of the 27 EU nations which has not ratified the treaty, which aims to ‘streamline how the bloc operates.’ ”
    My BS detector just went nuts. ‘Streamline how ______ operates’ is Newspeak for ‘eliminate all Constitutional rights and protections of _____.’
    1984 is here, amigos!

  5. Fredrik Reinfeldt, my country’s prime minister as mentioned above, was today called a climate taliban for not doing enough on the climate issue. Interesting word combination.

  6. DaveE (16:54:16) :
    Don’t forget about the Cold War.
    I spent many a night freezing on flight lines
    to bring down the Iron Curtain. Makes me wonder???

  7. I’m torn between the bads news about the Czechs and the good news about them not agreeing anything re climate change. I doubt very much if Austria, and particularly Hungary, will rock the boat.
    Longer term, I can see the EU imploding under the weight of its own corruption and lack of real democracy. I just hope they haven’t sold us out to the UN before then.

  8. @Jim Bob
    There has never been a constitution in the United Kingdom#. We just have Prince Charles to look forward to!

  9. “funding for a climate change pact to help developing nations.”
    Help them do…what? Deal with the consequences of global warming? Raise your hand if you really think ANY of those countries will use one red cet to “deal with the consequences of global warming”.
    3rd world countries are 3rd world countries for a reason. Through there history their leaders have been too greedy, too stupid, or both. Giving them free money (which we do all the time, BTW) will not instantly make them smart.

  10. paulhan (17:48:33) :
    I’m torn between the bads news about the Czechs and the good news about them not agreeing anything re climate change. I doubt very much if Austria, and particularly Hungary, will rock the boat.
    Longer term, I can see the EU imploding under the weight of its own corruption and lack of real democracy. I just hope they haven’t sold us out to the UN before then.
    They don’t have to Paulhan, read the Lisbon Treaty. The Climate bill is written into the treaty.

  11. “MattN (18:15:22) :
    Help them do…what? Deal with the consequences of global warming? Raise your hand if you really think ANY of those countries will use one red cet to “deal with the consequences of global warming”.”
    By the time the ruling elites have had their fill of the publically funded trough, one red cent will be all that’ll be left.

  12. Tim Cullen MalagaView (16:39:04) :
    Please! Please! Please! Anybody but Totalitarian Tony for President.

    How about Obama ? Get him out of town where he can’t hurt …
    No, wait, that would make Joe Biden … Well, maybe Barack could take Joe with him. No, that would make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, no, she should go to the EU also, then we could get the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and that’s Robert Byrd. Scratch that. What’s next, Secretary of State? Hillary?
    I’d do it myself, but I don’t want to give up ObamaCare. Maybe Al Gore is available ?

  13. Tony Bliar is a champagne Socialist. A multi Millionaire Left Winger. Why should he become a President [ He created this faux position for himself btw] of the EU when there are more suitable candidates that don’t have Bliar’s record of being economic with the truth.

  14. This blog is almost entirely visited by Americans, I think. But if there are some fellow Europeans who were hoping that Czechia and Klaus would kill the treaty entirely, then: please accept our apologies. Such a lonely struggle would be too damaging for our homeland and the opt-out significantly reduces the consequences.
    The treaty is really bad. It will be playing the role of the EU constitution but it contains a lot of bad, predefined, ideological stuff – for example, it codifies that all Europeans must always fight against climate change (and hundreds of pages of similar stuff from other disciplines).
    But it’s just a mostly lost battle for the foes of dictates from above. The war is not yet over.
    Reply: About 60% from the USA and about 23% from Europe. ~ charles the moderator

  15. I see here many hostile comments about the trend of the EU becoming a country.
    As a member of the EU I do not think that as a bad outcome, as I am sure US citizens do not consider it a bad thing they are 50 or so states in one country.
    There is Aesop’s fable with the father and seven sons and the sticks demonstration:the bundle cannot be broken, individual sticks can.
    There will be always regions with special characteristics, and always some people will be calling for independence, remembering old times when tiny kingdoms existed. “Independent Crete”, for example as far as Greece is concerned. Crete has not done badly within the larger political entity of Greece, though. It will be the same with countries within the EU, as long as together with the political union we develop a robust constitution to support individual freedoms.
    Europe has a common history, a lot of interchange of populations has been homogenizing the brew and if nothing stupid is done, like harakiri about nonexistent AGW, the EU will be prosperous and as successful as the US has been.
    The two world wars were fought over who would have the upper hand and be the overlord, not about a democratic for individual citizens union. As long as the citizens have a voice equal in all the region then why will it not be as much a democracy as the democracy of the US?

  16. The ethnic German issue was used just as a smokescreen. By getting exception from Charter of Fundamental Rights, Czechs will not be bound by eurosocialistic rules for working law and stuff EU wants to dictate to its members, which is much more important. Making Hungarians and Austrians nervous is just added value.

  17. Anna V.
    ” a democratic for individual citizens union.”
    What planet are you on? There’s nothing Democratic about this Union. Look at how EU laws are made.
    “Proposals for legislative acts – regulations, directives and decisions – are normally prepared by the Commission department responsible for the dossier, which consults all the other departments whose work is related as well as the national authorities, interested parties and other stakeholders in the EU countries. At the end of the process, the proposal is formally adopted by the college of commissioners.
    The actual decision-making procedure by which the legal act is adopted depends on the Treaty rules governing the area of activity concerned. In most cases, the co-decision procedure is used. This means that the formal proposal is scrutinised by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, who are the EU’s joint legislators. In some cases, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions are consulted during the process. During the co-decision procedure, Parliament and the Council will subject the proposal to one, two or three readings, during which the Commission will act as mediator and ensure that the European interest remains central, until the act is adopted.
    Once the act has been adopted by the EU legislator, it is transposed into national law in all the EU countries (if it is a directive – regulations and decisions apply directly without any need for further national legislation) and applied by the Commission and the EU countries”
    http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/basicfacts/index_en.htm#leg
    So, anything wanted in law, is prepared by Eurocrats (Unelected), passed onto a committee (Selected members) then presented as a fait accomplie (spelling?) to the “Parliament”.
    It’s then passed over to member countries, who’s own elected parliaments can’t do anything about it.
    Saw this bit did you?
    “the Commission will act as mediator and ensure that the European interest remains central, until the act is adopted.”
    Anything about democracy there? No.
    The EU was foistered onto the British public as being the European Economic Community, we were told it was all about free trade. Great we think, sounds good to us, we’ll vote for that.
    The French quickly stick in the Common Fisheries bit, but our then Prime Minister Edward Heath quietly accepts that. A policy that has lead to the collapse of both the UK’s fishing industry and the fish stocks in the seas surrounding us.
    It then becomes the European Community, the the European Union.
    Remember any of us having a vote on those changes?
    Read this article.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/5983723/EU_leaders_attack_transparency_as_undemocratic/
    Note this paragraph.
    “As Nigel sat down, the irritating little socialist leader Martin Schulz, who recently complained that supporters of a referendum resembled Nazis, leapt to his feet. It was scandalous, he said, that the transcript had been published. Such meetings were traditionally secret. In disclosing what had been said, the Czech Republic had not behaved like a democracy.”
    Look at this.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/3677071/Britains_most_Europhile_newspaper/
    ” Martin Schulz, leader of the Party of European Socialists, said that pro-referendum MEPs made him think of Adolf Hitler; and Graham Watson, leader of the Liberals, said that their behaviour recalled “that of the Communists in the Russian Diet and the National Socialists in the German Reichstag”. ”
    So, those who want a referendum, so everyone entitled to vote in a country can have their say, are Nazis or a Communist rubber stamp?
    And this?
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/3676851/Fined_for_being_Eurosceptics/
    Euro MPs fined for demanding a referendum.
    Lubos Motl is a Czech, his country spent 8 years under Nazi rule, then nearly 50 under Communist rule. I think he might know about being ruled by undemocratic regimes.
    And as for using the word “robust” here, you should know better than that. We prety well know what “robust” means!

  18. Here in the UK it is certainly not all sunshine and roses. My guess would be that they would get their ‘no’ vote.
    (From their official website)

    [….]If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election, and a Conservative Government is elected, we would put the Treaty to a referendum of the British people, recommending a ‘no’ vote. If the British people rejected the Treaty, we would withdraw Britain’s ratification of it.
    [….]
    A Conservative Government would also amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any future EU Treaty that transfers powers from the United Kingdom to the European Union would be subject to a referendum of the British people.

  19. anna–
    I realise that things look differently from where you are but here is a Euro-sceptic’s point of view.
    The EU’s accounts have not been signed off for 14 years (possibly 15); yet we in Britain contribute 16 BILLION POUNDS+ to this organisation every year. And its finances are only one symptom of its disfunctional nature. It’s anti-capitalist, anti-nation state and anti-democratic.
    No one has ever asked me if I wanted to take part under the current rules yet my money is taken to pay for it. And it would conspire to ruin my country financially (as was threatened to Ireland and no doubt the Czech Republic) if we had the gall to leave.
    In fact, it is the latest in the long, long line of attempts at pan-European dictatorship and is in no way comparable to the dynamic constitution and system of government in America which was set up by inspired geniuses.
    Yet it won’t defend itself, preferring meaningless platitudes about peacekeeping; possibly because even it doesn’t know what it stands for, other than self-perpetuation. It reminds me of nothing more than late medieval Byzantium – rich, flabby, complacent and heading for a terrible fall. Fall it will, and the blast zone when it goes down will be enormous.

  20. Britain certainly does have a Constitution as defined by Magna Carta and the Bill of Fights 1689 in which there is the following clause:- And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.” Thus, all EU laws and Treaties are illegal under our Constitution, the existence of which seems to be strangely denied by our politicians. Some of us are intent on exposing this treason and other evils being committed on the British people. See http://www.thebcgroup.org.uk and http://www.ukcolumn.org. US citizens should also look out for similar treachery being committed in their country.

  21. “…the treaty, which aims to streamline how the bloc operates…”
    Why streamline a brick? To make it fly down the well faster?

  22. I think it’s quite fitting that Tony Blair becomes EU president.
    Then we will have a B-LIAR controlling the biggest Lie of recent history. Then we can work to destroy both.

  23. To promote the current EU as either constitutional or democratic is arrant nonsense. As a UK national I am appalled at the reckless manner in which the EU have pushed through the Lisbon treaty, the re-running of the vote in Ireland was tantamount to vote rigging. In the UK, no-one who is eligible to vote has had any opportunity to do so, and the Lisbon treaty was signed by a Prime Minister who is in power after not one solitary member of the UK population voted for him. If anyone believes that this is ‘democratic’ they are in ‘la la land’.
    The EU constitution is built on:
    – deceit (pretending the constitution is not the same as the Lisbon treaty)
    – electoral malpractice (re-running vote in Ireland)
    – institutionalized corruption (accounts have not been signed off for more than a decade)
    – scandalous disregard for democracy (why accept ‘signatures’ from countries that will not let their own electorate vote).
    The strength of a constitution is measured less through written terms than by deference of a government and society to principles. Unfortunately for the EU, or more particularly its’ peoples, the principles of the EU have been laid bare in pushing the Lisbon treaty through.
    Bottom line, the EU has no real electoral mandate and in its current configuration is doomed to either abject failure or dictatorship to survive. I regard this as a terrible indictment of the current European leadership as it is probably more essential that Europe speaks with one voice now than it has ever been. History will be the real judge, but I suspect the Lisbon treaty will go down as the start of the end of the EU in its current form.

  24. Rowland, I did not realise that. However, I’m only 62 so there’s still time to learn. I was always under the impression that we didn’t have a written Constitution; now I know better.
    On a purely picky note, is the “Bill of Fights” a typo, as I suspect ?

  25. The Anti EU /Pro EU has many similarities to Anti AGW/ pro AGW.
    (I am anti EU and Anti AGW)
    Whereby the ‘discussion’ on both are being suppressed, and behind the backs of ‘the people’ decisions are being made. There seems to be a linking to both AWG and a World government (which the EU is a cog in).
    Firstly there is this from the dictionary
    \Trea”son\, n. a giving up, a delivering up, fr. tradere to give up, betray. See Traitor,
    1. The offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power; disloyalty; treachery a crime that undermines the offender’s government [syn:
    Whereby the Sovereignty of Britain is being given away without the consent of the People. N0-One in Britain under the age of 53 has had any say at all in this process.
    (anyone older voted in 1975 to ‘carry on’ trading with the then ECC, after the government signed a trading agreement in 1973, again without asking the people).
    No-one expected to one day, be ruled by them, and on very many occasions this has been said by ‘our’ government “to never happen, never will happen” … and yet here we are!
    The EU is an unelected political state, and is a single party system who the founders of which said “must be brought about by stealth and deception” .
    who is the ‘opposition party’ ? answer there is none…
    The EU is corrupt the EU’s own accountants refuse to ‘sign off’ the books for 15 years now.
    We in Britain ‘give’ the EU some 45 million pounds per DAY (soon to rise to 50 million) just to be a member.
    Stargazer (A member of UKIP) (the United Kingdom Independence Party) http://www.ukip.org/

  26. Many of you are probably aware of Christopher Booker, who has a column in the UK Sunday Telegraph. Over recent years he has campaigned tirelessly against the climate change delusion, for which I’m very grateful. But over many years he has also campaigned against the European Union, which I regard as a completely corrupt and anti-democratic entity.
    About thirty years ago the British voted in a referendum to stay in the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. This institution was relatively benign and appeared to be little more than a free trade area. Of course, even then the existing Treaty of Rome made it clear that it would become a single political state in the fullness of time – but who reads these boring documents?
    Finally, in the early 90’s, the EU was created by the Maastricht Treaty. The British people were not given a say on whether they should be citizens of a foreign political union. For this reason I do not recognise British membership of the EU.
    Over the years the EU has been remorselessly destroying Britain’s independence. Now well over half our laws come from the EU, a pretty astounding state of affairs. When did the British people give their permission for this democratic outrage?
    The cost of these laws, many of which are nonsensical and economically damaging, is astronomical. There have been a number of academic studies relating to economic benefits of EU membership, including one, if I remember correctly, by the US Congress. Not one showed any economic benefit at all. All but one showed that membership was in fact a large economic burden.
    The other big claim for the EU is that it guarantees peace in Europe. This is complete nonsense. If the EU had been created in 1930, would it have stopped Hitler? Of course not. There have been no more wars between the original member countries because (1) there was no reason for a war and (2) all the countries are strong democracies. It’s in democracy that I place my trust. The EU isn’t un-democratic: it’s anti-democratic. In my opinion the EU may increase the chance of war, for example by creating a perceived threat for the Russians.
    Before the last election Tony Blair promised a referendum on the European Constitution, which essentially changes the EU into a country with all the trappings such as a diplomatic corps, a president and an army etc etc It further enshrines the fact that European law is superior to British law. However, the Constitution was voted down in two national referendums.
    As predicted, the Constitution quickly morphed into a treaty which was roughly 95% identical to the Constitution (the Lisbon Treaty). Naturally, this time around there would be no referendums, even in France, which had originally voted down the Constitution. Actually, there was one referendum in Ireland, which had to hold a referendum by law. Ireland voted no. As always happens in the EU, no is the wrong answer and they were forced to hold another referendum. This time they voted yes after being subjected to threats and given some concessions.
    Blair and then Brown broke their word on a British referendum, saying that the treaty was ‘completely different’. Of course, it is virtually identical. The Conservatives, who are almost certain to be the next government by June next year, have promised a referendum on the treaty if it has not been fully ratified. This is why ratification of the treaty is so important. If Klaus could hold out without signing until the British election then there would be a British referendum. If so, all bets would be off. Almost certainly the British people would vote no, an unthinkable catastrophe for the Euro-elite in Brussels.
    A no vote would be a very good thing. As David Cameron and his government would be far more Euro-sceptic, the chances of another referendum would be close to zero. At long, long last, it may force the EU to actually take account of what the peoples of Britain and Europe actually want.
    Unfortunately it’s unlikely that Klaus will hold out until next summer. Cameron will have to decide what to do if he comes to power with the treaty ratified and in force. They say they will ‘not let matters rest’, but that’s completely vague.
    My position is clear, after weeks of thought on the matter. My MP is Nick Herbert, who is the Conservative climate change spokesman. This week I emailed him. I told him that I am a life-long Conservative voter, but if they have not made a firm promise to hold a referendum on the treaty, I will not vote Conservative. And that if they form the next government and do not hold a referendum then I will never again vote Conservative.
    I believe a referendum is essential, even if the treaty is in force. If the British people vote no, as is most likely, then it will show that the Lisbon Treaty has no democratic foundation. In the long run it may help to bring democratic accountability to the workings of the EU. At the moment the EU looks like a train out of control and filled with passengers who want an entirely different destination.
    Good news for Blair-haters, of whom there are many. It seems opposition in many EU countries to a Blair presidency is rising, and there’s little chance there will be a President Blair.
    Chris

  27. anna v (01:23:33) : I see here many hostile comments about the trend of the EU becoming a country.
    As a member of the EU I do not think that as a bad outcome, as I am sure US citizens do not consider it a bad thing they are 50 or so states in one country.

    Anna what is bad about the EU is the loss of democracy in in that sense of freedom. The American President is elected as are the members of parliament in a democracy but not the members of the EU parliament. I wouldnt want such an arrangement.
    No taxation without representation

  28. Anna v,
    Adam has said what I would have said on the matter of comparing the EU with the US, the latter being a true democracy with checks and balances, while the EU only maintains the pretence of democracy.
    We consider the UK to be a democracy, but the British parliamentary system is seriously flawed compared to the US system, and these flaws were exploited to the full under New Labour. In the US, there is a clear separation between the executive and legislative branches of government – the senate may yet reject cap & trade. In the UK parliament, we have seen how the executive also controls the legislature by wielding the aptly named whip. We have seen no end of unpopular and pointless laws whipped through parliament because the combined voting of the opposition parties was not enough to prevent a simple majority.
    But as flawed as the UK system is, the EU is vastly worse. There is not even a legislature worthy of that name – the European parliament is little more than a debating society. The council of ministers currently have individual veto, but that will be removed when the Lisbon treaty becomes ratified. Laws are effectively made by bureaucrats in Brussels and passed out as EU directives with orders to be ratified in national parliaments. Democracy is eroding at an ever increasing rate. This process will not be stopped save by revolution.

  29. Adam Gallon (02:30:42) :
    and Clare (03:00:57) :
    If robust is a dirty word here, so should referendum be, it is so easy to stampede the masses into whatever agenda is behind, as we have seen with AGW.
    You are of course free to be skeptical of the use of the EU and if you convince the majority of your citizens you could get out. Maybe it would be better for the UK to be another state of the US than part of Europe?
    In Greece the euroskeptic party is the communist party, which got 8% in the recent elections. They advance arguments like yours 🙂 with the addition of the anti-capitalist rhetoric.
    Somehow, I tend to favor Aesop’s parable. I do not think any country in the union has over-lordship in its mind .

  30. Anna v 01:23:33:
    You mention the fifty states of the USA. Look at what happened in the 1860’s when some of them decided to leave the Union. Some of us in Britain feel we will eventually lose the right to leave also. And, by the way, we don’t mind if the rest of you want to get together, we just want to run our own affairs as we did for hundreds of years.
    3×2 02:38:44:
    Look at that Conservative web-page more closely: “…if the treaty has been ratified we will not let matters rest there”. What does that mean, exactly? I suggest it will mean precisely nothing.
    DaveE and D King:
    Not to mention the Napoleonic wars to prevent that maniac from taking over the whole continent. This has been going on a long, long time. Reckon it might be finished now, though.

  31. The prospect of Klaus ratifying the Lisbon treaty is bad for Britain -Cameron will only grant the British people their promised referendum if the treaty has not been ratified by all nations by the time the conservatives gain power. Time is fast running out.
    Even worse than being forced into a Soviet style union of states, is the prospect of seeing that grinning idiot Blair returning as president of all of Europe. Blair is one of the most loathed politicians in Britain, and the conservatives have let it be known that they would consider the appointment of Blair to be a hostile act.
    We are moving into a super state where the president is selected by horse trading politicians instead of elected by the people. The British voters were treated to the odious spectacle of seing their Foreign minister abusing his position by making a direct appeal to select Blair as president in expectation of a debt later to be repaid, and at the same time launching an attack on anyone who believed in a sovereign Britain as ignorant and xenophobic. Need any more be said on the issue of European democracy?

  32. “I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.”
    Excellent! Add to my list of reasons I love the Brits. In my estimation, the dissolution or sublimation of nations’ sovereignty will enslave us all if we don’t stand firmly against it. This is insidious and people stand idly by or buy into this scaremongering. What rubbish!
    I’m beginning to wonder if something so ephemeral as climate change (is that what term is in vogue now?) and the unintended consequences of inane pacts (EU or UN declarations) will spark a world war.
    Will Europeans wake up? I believe they’ve drunk too much the elixir of entitlement – as seems to be the case in the US.

  33. Rowland Pantling (UK) (03:10:25) : Britain certainly does have a Constitution as defined by (…)
    Not so much. More a collection of common law and tradition. For example the British Representation of the People Act 1918 as opposed to the US 19th Amendment 1920.
    As for magna Carta, I wouldn’t go looking there for any ‘rights’ that might apply to you.

  34. Rowland Pantling, that is precisely my position. A Sovereign that may be over-ruled is no longer a Sovereign, and with her fall all those sworn to her like the judiciary, police &c.

  35. @tallbloke
    The EU(SSR) is just like the Vogon ship in Hitchiker’s Guide.
    It hangs in the air exactly like a brick doesn’t.

  36. I hope the Czechs, British, and Pols realize an opt-out clause is useless.
    I seem to remember a bunch of US southern states trying to opt-out of the United States, didnt work out too well for them.

  37. Anna v 01:23:33:
    You mention the fifty states of the USA. Look at what happened in the 1860’s when some of them decided to leave the Union. Some of us in Britain feel we will eventually lose the right to leave also. And, by the way, we don’t mind if the rest of you want to get together, we just want to run our own affairs as we did for hundreds of years.
    And can Scotland secede from the UK? How about Northern Ireland?
    Instead a union by the sword, as the UK imposed until WWII, ( and a lot of other european countries did the same the world over) the EU is a union by consensus, which surely is an improvement. Of course consensus is an iffy word here too.

  38. anna v (01:23:33) :
    I see here many hostile comments about the trend of the EU becoming a country.
    As a member of the EU I do not think that as a bad outcome, as I am sure US citizens do not consider it a bad thing they are 50 or so states in one country.

    Actually Anna, there are a growing number of US folks who are becoming alienated with the two leftist coasts ( the blue states in general) who have humanist, socialist, or communist tendencies with sufficient voting strength to ram ill-conceived, self-defeating legislation down our throats. Believe me, the hard working middle class in the middle of the country are praying that the 2010 elections reverse the course of Congress or there might be more than just “tea-parties”. History has shown that large does not mean better in terms of government.

  39. anna–
    Your ‘union by consensus’ remark in the face of all the comments on here, suggests either that you simply don’t care or have decided to ignore the perfectly rational objections of others.
    This is exactly the type of attitude that reinforces my reasons for wanting to be free of the whole ‘project’.

  40. Sunfighter (07:18:13) :
    I hope the Czechs, British, and Pols realize an opt-out clause is useless.
    I seem to remember a bunch of US southern states trying to opt-out of the United States, didnt work out too well for them.

    This is a different situation. The premise for that war was sold to the public as eliminating slavery, which galvanized many people. What would be the concept now? We must retain the union because we need all you hard working folks to pay for the freeloaders. Or, we need to fight you rednecks so we con legalize illegal immigration to cheapen manpower costs. Or, we’re in deep doo-doo with the debt and all, you folks need to stay the course to help us out? Not much ideological footing to persuade me.

  41. anna,
    Do not confuse my cyncicism of the EU with xenophobia. I am opposed solely on the grounds that all the peoples of Europe will be surrendering their franchise. If we were looking at a US style of state, I would be more open to it. However, nothing could be further from the minds of your new rulers, for make no mistake, democracy is not something that’s on their agenda. Your reference to WWII is apt – we fought a war to maintain freedom but many seem blind to to the dangers today.
    You say that the EU is a union by consensus? But Consensus by whom? Certainly not the people – every nation who has gone to the people on the constitution voted no. The whole project, which is driven top down, by the way, has one aim, to sequester sovereignity from the people to a quasi-political elite. Indeed, this elite won’t even be politicians in the traditional sense, because they will exist by appointment not by election. This transition of power will eviscerate the peoples and their national parliaments.
    History tells us that once power has been lost it is hard to win back.
    BTW, Scotland is free to leave the UK any time, so I’m not sure want your point is.

  42. Here’s a classic example of the EU’s waste!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8327500.stm
    The French have spent 171m Euros on meetings, symposia & the like during their 6 month tenure in the Presidency chair.

    The Union of the Mediterranean summit in Paris alone cost 16.6m euros.
    “The scale of this summit, the irregular nature of its procedures and its massive impact on public finances together make this summit a kind of record,” the court report said.
    It noted that France spent more than 1m euros on the summit dinner for 43 heads of state and 653,703 euros on air conditioning, among other expenses. Big temporary tents and restaurants were installed for the occasion, on 13 July 2008. ”
    However, I’m unsurprised that Greece finds being part of the EU to be beneficial.
    http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_economy_1_23/09/2009_110922
    “The report showed that Greece received 6.3 billion euros – or 2.7 percent of its annual economic output – more from the EU than it paid in membership dues, for farm aid and projects such as highway construction and cleaning up the environment.”

  43. The EU a ‘concensus’? Well the Dutch, French and Irish all voted against the Constitution/Lisbon Treaty and yet the politicos and bureaucrats rammed it through. I think you’re in Greece, what happens when Germany stops underwriting the euros the Greeks are printing??

  44. Clare (08:03:56) :
    anna–
    Your ‘union by consensus’ remark in the face of all the comments on here, suggests either that you simply don’t care or have decided to ignore the perfectly rational objections of others.
    This is exactly the type of attitude that reinforces my reasons for wanting to be free of the whole ‘project’.

    I do not ignore the objections of others, at the moment UK people, and agree that if they want to get out, they should be free to get out.
    I am talking about the situation of most of the other countries who find more positives than negatives in a larger union. If I felt strongly that the laws that are passing are passed over the heads my parliament I would start working to change the situation, within the EU. I do not care enough, as even the laws that are passed by my parliament are not something I have a voice over except once every time I vote for a party. What we call democracies are a compromise, but I, and many in the EU, can live with this compromise because of the security it offers and the opportunity of greater economic development. Already it can be seen that the countries within the euro have had less upsets in this economic crisis then the ones outside and have more support than the ones outside. Is that not a gain?
    Vincent (08:14:04) :
    History tells us that once power has been lost it is hard to win back.
    BTW, Scotland is free to leave the UK any time, so I’m not sure want your point is.

    Aren’t you contradicting yourself in these two statements?
    What has happened is that Scotland lost power so long ago that it has been homogenized and no longer has a big faction that wants to secede. ( The same as Crete and Greece I suppose). The moral would be that with enough time passing nor will the countries in the EU have large factions wanting to secede from it.

  45. British constitution! Ha! As 3×2 said Britain has no single constitutional document. I’d swap all the Lords, Earls, Dukes, Princes and Kings for The constitution the USA has. Freedom and the chance to vote them out!

  46. Anna v:
    “And can Scotland secede from the UK?” – – – Yes
    “How about Northern Ireland?” – – – – Yes – written into the Good Friday agreement.
    “What has happened is that Scotland lost power so long ago that it has been homogenized and no longer has a big faction that wants to secede.” (1) Have you been to Scotland? (2) So forcing people into a union for so long that they give up is OK, is it?

  47. In poll after poll some 55 to 80 percent of British people want out of the EU.
    This is why ‘our’ government(s) will not give us a say. but will lie to get into ‘power’
    And Anna, what the people of my country may or may not have done in the past has nothing to do with people alive now, and it is a mistake to put ‘modern political correctness’ retrospectively onto people of past times.

  48. DaveF (09:46:00) :
    (1) Have you been to Scotland?
    Yes, if Glasgow is in Scotland.
    (2) So forcing people into a union for so long that they give up is OK, is it?
    It is an observation that time smooths things.
    The EU is not compulsory, countries are not forced. If you cannot control your government that is your problem, not an EU problem.
    Stargazer (10:18:30) :
    In poll after poll some 55 to 80 percent of British people want out of the EU.
    This is why ‘our’ government(s) will not give us a say. but will lie to get into ‘power’

    Well, get involved in the politics and get a party that expresses that 55 to 80% and you can get out.
    And Anna, what the people of my country may or may not have done in the past has nothing to do with people alive now, and it is a mistake to put ‘modern political correctness’ retrospectively onto people of past times.
    You are applying the proverb : him whom the cap fits …
    I just used historical precedents that show how in the end people are resigned to their fate anyway. I could have used others from Greek history, where the famous classical Athens depended on tribute from other city states forced into submission, or the Byzantine empire ruling over many nations, if it will make you feel better. All of us have an imperial history if we look far enough, and history shows that quite often, and particularly if language and culture are common, nations become regions of a bigger nation.
    In the case of the EU the process is voluntary, which I consider progress.

  49. Lovely EU. Our well-being is their only concern.
    Democracy is an illusion in the modern world. Southpark said it best “…the choice between a douche and a snip sandwich…”
    On the 30th of December 2009 in the UK a EU directive comes into force and (I cannot believe I am writing this) “Whatever is not specifically allowed by legislation becomes automatically illegal” in so many words.
    Almost a thousand years of the exact opposite being held in the highest regard will be cast away and the public don’t even know it is going to happen because even when the Codex was being set up there was not a single UK “news” source that would conform to articles 1 and 2, amongst others, of this:
    http://media.gn.apc.org/nujcode.html
    Codex Alimantarius. Nutrients declared as toxins. Fait Accompli. And you all thought the UN was just warped about climate.

  50. Freedom is precious and it is worth fighting over. Can we trust our freedom, for example even here in NZ, to our politicians. Answer NO!
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    I voted for National. But what has National now done? The have over-ridden the overwhelming consensus of the people in the ant-smacking Bill. They have teamed up with labour to pass the ant-smacking bill. We can vote them out – sure. But that takes 4 years and who do we chose in their place. The system is not fool-proof. Also we have unelected MP’s who are chosen by the people we elect. Not perfect by any means.
    When we have unelected officials deciding our future. What taxes we pay or what our laws are – then we are in serious trouble. Our freedom is in peril.
    And our freedom is worth fighting for. It is always hard won and always in peril.

  51. “They have teamed up with labour to pass the ant-smacking bill.” Correction “They have teamed up with labour to pass the cao n trade bill.”

  52. Returning to the UK after several years living overseas I notice:
    * Constant government nagging about recycling, plastic bags, smoking, and especially global warming.
    * Propaganda about global warming has reached the level of brain-washing – especially in schools. Children are no longer taught how to think – they learn what to think.
    * An assumption that everyone is a paedophile. You now need a permit to help with school trips or be a scoutmaster or music teacher or sports coach or similar.
    The country is seriously screwed.

  53. “Well, get involved in the politics and get a party that expresses that 55 to 80% and you can get out”.
    I am. The party is called UKIP. (the United Kingdom Independence Party) http://www.ukip.org/
    “You are applying the proverb : him whom the cap fits” … No. No I am not!
    And we in the UK are not ‘resigned to our fate’.
    I am sure you are correct when you say “The moral would be that with enough time passing nor will the countries in the EU have large factions wanting to secede from it”.
    I can well believe this of Europe though,
    The UK have never seen ourselves as ‘European’.
    Europe was/is something across the English channel.
    Its been 35 years now since we were ‘taken in’ against ‘our will’… and we still want out.

  54. The Eu is a union by consensus? Not even, if the posts to this blog from Europeans are indicative. Wonder if everyone can agree on the definition of “consensus”? Some references say that consensus is a majority of opinion while others say totality of opinion. In the US of 50 years ago, consensus was totality.
    That definition, like the definition of Constitutional law has suffered the onslaught of sophistry and is now sufficiently mushy that any moronic law school graduate can find a way to make a living.
    To return to the idea of EU consensus; how is the concept of a unified Europe any closer to realization now than it was in 1914? It is very clear that nasty nationalism lives in the breasts of the citizens of every country in Europe. I’m pretty familiar with the denizens of the UK and there is no more jingoistic bunch on this planet. God bless ’em every one.

  55. I have worked in international scientific decision making committees and consensus meant “nobody is making a big negative noise”. Not “everybody is happy with it”.
    Diplomacy and sociology are not exact sciences.

  56. Dear friends in the U.S
    Nobody is deeper concerned about the EU`s obvious deficit in democratic legitimation of their instruments than many EU citizens themselves. But the building of the EU is a historic process that has just started and will probably last for some generations. It is a miracle nobody could have hoped for some 70 years ago. France and Germany for example, enemies of death for centuries are now the closest allies. My country, Germany that only 30 years ago seemed to be doomed to be the battlefield of an atomic war ( like Lubo`s country) is now surrounded by friends. Other countries,from Europe and elsewhere want to join the EU quicker than we can deal with their wishes. So this process is about peace, about freedom,about good neighbourhood also with other cultures and religions. The global warming hysteria will cease. It`s not a key question of the EU. But as many of you are so concerned of financial questions: just try to imagine what would have happened to the world economy without close cooperation of the European leaders and without a European currency.

  57. Anna v 12:36:49:
    You seem to have misunderstood me. My point was that if you had been to Scotland you might have noticed that the largest party in the Scottish Parliament is the Scottish Nationalist party, whose leader is the Scottish First Minister. Those wanting independence in Scotland are not in the majority but it would be quite wrong to say that there is no significant faction for it.
    I didn’t say that the EU forced Britain to join – I was answering the general point about countries becoming part of larger countries for so long that they lose their own sense of independence. The Roman Empire conquered other countries for so long that they became Romanised, but that doesn’t justify the original conquest.
    You’re quite right, of course, that we have to get a Government that represents our views, not one that shamelessly lies to us, but so far we’ve found that pretty hard to do; the latest example being the solemn promise of a referendum on the European Constitution followed by the pretence that the Lisbon Treaty was not the same thing, so no referendum. A lot of us feel we’ve been experiencing the slowest Coup d’Etat in history. But we’re not Anti-Europe – we just don’t want to live in your house.

  58. @anna v
    You’re right about “nobody is making a big negative noise” but complete by ” with the view to block the process and to be shown as the bad, who refuse the common position”.
    @Rheinhard
    Yes, the process is an ongoing process for a very long time. Building EU is difficult because the main question underlined the european discussions is the sharing of sovereignty between EU level and national level.
    Climate change policy is a way to display consensus but the Council declaration is weak about EU financing on climate change : the eastern countries refuse to pay (we can understand why) and I’m not sure that even France and Germany, even Italy or Spain are so easy with their own national budgets for the next years… Developping countries are waiting for money.
    The other crucial question “what to do with the to many Kyoto credits detained by Russia and other ?

  59. To all EU sceptics here – I find it very interesting that the British here complain the most about the EU while people from the biggest net contributors in the EU – France and Germany are still quite supportive?
    Another funny thing is to talk that the EU is hindering Irelands economy – a small example: without the EU all of the Ireland’s banks would be smoking ruins today and the country would be bankrupt.
    As per EU and AGW – lets hope the common sense to prevail …
    cheers,
    Plamen

  60. Perhaps it would be better if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified before the Tories get in and Mr Blair does become EU President, because it might push the Conservatives to hold a referendum on Britain’s continued mebership altogether!

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