Paul Murphy MEP for the Socialist Party/United Left Alliance has today demanded that any proposed changes to the Lisbon Treaty are put to a referendum in Ireland. This follows talks between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarcozy yesterday, and ahead of their meeting with European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.
The outlines of the proposed changes that have emerged so far represent a fundamental change to the European Treaties. The democratic right of national parliaments to debate and discuss national budgets will be dramatically undermined, with power shifting to the unelected European Commission and incredibly the European Court of Justice. This is an attempt to institutionalise austerity within Europe, which will be disastrous for working people and the economy as a whole.
The changes are so significant and will so seriously affect the lives of the people of Ireland that they must be given the right to vote on these measures, as, in fact, should people across Europe.
It seems that the Irish government along with European officials are looking to use a sleight of hand to try to avoid a referendum by using an amendment to the protocol annexed to the Treaty, rather than amending the Treaty itself. This is because they know that any step that further institutionalises austerity could well be rejected by the people at the ballot box.
A significant change to the protocol may in my opinion fall foul of the Crotty judgement and the government could be forced to hold a referendum by a court case. The people must be given their democratic right to have their say on such important changes. Any attempt to avoid this referendum must be challenged vigorously, with campaigning activity and in the courts.