Ireland: Why to vote NO to the referendum?

11 May 2012 by Andy Storey


"The fiscal treaty would lead to deeper cutbacks, tax increases and economic recession. The treaty stipulates that Ireland has to cut its ‘structural deficit’ to 0.5 per cent of GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
. The government says that this deficit will be 3.7 per cent in 2015, which means that they will probably have to come up with over €5 billion in further spending cuts and tax increases to meet the new target – a doubling of the austerity already planned for the next three years and that has seen unemployment and emigration soar. We are already in a recessionary hole and we should stop digging. This is the first argument for a No vote on 31st May.

The second reason for a No vote is to defend democracy. Chancellor Merkel has spoken of the treaty rules as having “eternal validity” and of how “Europe would not function any more if it changed course after every election”. Even if one favours these rules, is it appropriate to make them ‘eternally valid’? To grant the European Court of Justice (but not the European Parliament) a role in enforcing economic policy choices? If the treaty is passed, the government must introduce legislation concerning the ‘structural deficit’ and other aspects of austerity. What happens if a future government decides to repeal this legislation? Such a government would be in breach of Article 3(2) of the treaty and amenable to action against it in the European Court of Justice. So it could be taken to court for the ‘crime’ of altering economic policy. Crucial aspects of government policy would be taken away from the realm of democratic debate and into the hands of unelected technocrats and judges.

The Yes side says that all this may be true, but that we have to vote in favour because otherwise Ireland cannot access funds if a second ‘bail out’ is required. This is a red herring. The statement issued by EU leaders on 30th of January this year clearly says that ’We will continue to provide support to countries under a programme [as Ireland is] until they have regained market access’. So there is no prospect of Ireland losing access to required funding.

To stave off yet harsher austerity, and to defend democracy against the technocrats, Irish people should vote No on 31st May".

For further information, please contact Andy Storey - a lecturer at University College Dublin - at andy.storey at ucd.ie or on +353 87 6543872. See also http://www.campaignforasocialeurope.org/




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