Most Europeans don’t like the EU. They don’t want to leave it, and they don’t want to destroy it. But they are offended by the busybody behavior of the Brussels bureaucracy as it interferes with their daily lives in their own countries. The last Polish government, headed by Opus Dei members, tried to get traction with the public opinion by attacking the EU and blaming it for Poland’s troubles. It didn’t work.
There are lots of ironies in the fire. Nations on the outside, Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia want in. Once they make it, if they do, their citizens will be free to start hating. Several years ago, the European Commission adopted a constitution that would have made the EU a kind of super country, a sort of United States of Europe. It was required that it be adopted by all the countries. In many countries, governments, aware of the distaste for Brussels, prescribed a referendum. The constitution died aborning with vetoes from France and the Netherlands. There was something almost irrationally gleeful in this rejection — like we showed them, didn’t we?
So the governments of the nations decided that they would go in another direction. They approved a treaty at Lisbon in Portugal that saved much of the constitution, eliminated some of the aspects that everyone hated and tried to adjust to the addition of many new member states. On paper, the provisions seemed reasonable enough, though the government leaders and the pen pushers in Brussels didn’t “get” it. No one likes the EU. They suffer it like a visit to the dentist, but they don’t like it.
Most of the countries simply ratified the treaty in their parliaments. The fact that any one country could veto what seemed like an essential reform was not acceptable. However, Ireland agreed that it would submit the treaty to a referendum. Anyone who had any sense of Ireland’s propensity for being “agin it” — whatever “it” might be — would have known that the Lisbon treaty was dead on arrival. That all the political parties, except Sinn Fein supported it, along with all the commercial groups, and the whole Irish establishment only made rejection more inevitable. It was a way of getting even not only with Brussels but also with their own leaders. We sure showed them, didn’t we? Let them go get us a better deal. What the better deal would be is not clear. But it is clear that any attempt to improve the structure or the power of the EU will be slapped down by the “plain people of Ireland.”
I personally don’t think that Ireland belongs in the EU because I don’t think they really are Europeans.
Rather they should be part of some sort of “middle Atlantic” group as they talked about some years ago. But if they want to pretend that they are Europeans like the French or the Germans or the Dutch or the Poles, when they patently are not, then let them think that they are.
The leaders of the European countries were upset. After all we’ve done for Ireland, they’re ungrateful so and sos.
The German foreign minister, a socialist, suggested that it might be necessary to go on without Ireland.
The 54 percent of the Irish who voted against the treaty are very proud of themselves. They showed them! Besides, they’re voting for all the people in the EU who didn’t get a chance to vote.
It is, as they would say, great craic (which means fun).