After months of campaigning and debate, the Irish people have rejected the proposed Lisbon Treaty: 47% (752,451 votes) in favour and 53% (862, 415 votes) against. JEF Europe, like other European organisations and all mainstream political parties in Ireland, deeply regrets this outcome, which will to some extent stall the process of European Integration for potentially months or years to come.
European Youth for an Irish YES was created by JEF Europe in order to assist the Irish YES campaign. The network played an influential role in Dublin on 11th and 12th June as the only European youth network actively campaigning for the YES vote.
’Our activists persuaded a considerable number of Irish voters to back the Treaty – dispelling the myths of the well established No campaign’ stated Toni Giugliano Vice-President of JEF-Europe and Co-ordinator of the European Youth for an Irish Yes. ’On polling day the European Youth was the only network canvassing in Dublin city centre. Citizens were confused; it was clear that the NO campaign had won over many Irish voters with their false lies and propaganda’ Giugliano continued.
All eyes now turn to London where the House of Lords will hold the final vote for the UK ratification of the Treaty. Toni Giugliano, declared ’we encourage the UK and the eight other Governments to keep their ratification plans alive. We have always maintained that this treaty contains necessary reforms to European institutions that will increase efficiency and accountability of European officials, and we still believe it should be ratified.’
’Beyond the Lisbon Treaty itself the most important problem is the ratification method’, said Samuele Pii, President of JEF Europe. ’Can 862,415 voters block the advancement of a 500 million people Union? We believe European People should be able to reform the way their common representatives work without being held back by a single country,’ Pii added. ’Unanimity in ratification has consistently proven to force more democratic changes out of negotiated treaties and generally maintained the democratic deficit of the EU as a whole. Democracy demands that majority rule, rather than unanimity, should be used when ratificating treaties.’
’Many voters in Ireland thought it was their responsibility, as the only Member State to hold a referendum, to vote no to show their belief in democracy. We respect this and have repeatedly called for a referendum to be held in the whole of the EU on the same day, the outcome of which could be decided by a double majority of EU citizens and of Member States. Following this system, if 4/5 of the countries approve the treaty, the European Council would consider the situation and take a strong initiative to relaunch the European intrgration process.’ Pii explained.
JEF’s call for a pan-European referendum has been followed by many members of the 2004 European Convention that established the failed Constitution project as well as prominent national and European political party leaders. JEF Europe, the most prominent pro-European youth organisation, has been backing calls for unanimity to be dropped in ratification procedures since the failed 2005 referenda in France and the Netherlands.
And as European integration was blocked by Dublin, on same day, a successful meeting of the AGORA in Brussels proved how the European Union has found new ways of ’unlocking democracy’ through civil society involvement and direct participation.
European Youth for an Irish YES Co-ordinator & Vice President JEF Europe