Europe's Polyarchy

BERLIN/DUBLIN/PRAGUE | | irlandtschechische-republik

BERLIN/DUBLIN/PRAGUE (Own report) - Berlin is increasing the pressure on the opponents to the Lisbon Treaty. According to the Vatican German pressure is being applied. German politicians are demanding that the Irish Bishops publicly call for a "Yes" vote in the re-run of the Irish referendum to avoid a renewed defeat. The government in Dublin will announce the modalities and the timetable for the referendum re-run after consultations with the German chancellor at the EU summit this week. As a supplement, the German government has launched a campaign against the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, whose negative attitude endangers the treaty's ratification. In the Czech Republic, the treaty enters into effect only after the president has given his accord. Václav Klaus is the "spiritus rector" of the "anti-Europeans" and "not harmless," according to the chairman of the social democratic group in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, from Germany. Schulz announced his intentions to show the Czechs "their limits" also during their term as President of the European Council, which begins January 1.


The Lisbon Treaty is on the agenda to be discussed at the EU Summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week. The Irish government will table concepts of its plans to impose the treaty's ratification, following its rejection by the Irish citizens. Their "No" during the referendum in June was not a clear no, but rather a "volatile" reaction, claims the chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Jo Leinen (German Social Democratic Party - SPD). This is why a second referendum must be held.[1] The Irish government is acquiescing to this German social democrat's arbitrary interpretation and last week - during the prime minister's visit to Berlin - presented its plans for the repetition of the referendum to the German Chancellor. The final adjustments are now being made.


Most controversial is the rule that not all member states will be allowed to serve as EU Commissioner. Berlin is posing this demand and Dublin is objecting. This plan is, above all, endangering the status of the smaller nations. It can be heard in Berlin that most likely concessions will have to be made to Ireland. In an attempt to undercut the Irish people's resistance, supplementary declarations are also in planning. It is doubtful that they will be effective. One of the declarations under consideration is that Irish neutrality will not be impinged upon by the Lisbon Treaty, when, in fact, Ireland is already participating in EU military projects that have long since terminated its status as a neutral nation.[2]

Pressure on the Vatican

But doubts persist as to whether the Irish will go along with the wishes of the EU core states and approve the Lisbon Treaty in the re-run referendum. Berlin is therefore intensifying its direct pressure. Most recently, the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering (German CDU) visited Dublin to seek - together with Irish parliamentarians - an approach for a retroactive correction of the Irish majority decision. Poettering also intervened at a conference of Irish Bishops. This is very significant because the Catholic Church enjoys wide influence in Ireland. "The EU is applying pressure on Irish Bishops" reported Radio Vatican with rare candor thereafter. The clergy is being asked to "support the EU Lisbon Treaty." Radio Vatican reported that the CDU politician is hoping that "if the treaty is put to the vote again in the Irish Republic, this time it could suffice for a 'Yes,' thanks to the support of the church."[3]


As a supplement the German government has launched a campaign against the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus. Alongside Ireland, mainly the Czech Republic is considered a danger to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Though the Czech Constitutional Court recently declared numerous aspects of the treaty to be in conformity with the Czech constitution, more challenges can be expected. Government advisors in Berlin are also pointing out that "strictly speaking" President Klaus has the legal power to "block the ratification by withholding his signature."[4] Klaus, according to a paper by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), is "unreckonable." "In light of his repeated agitation against the reform treaty" he could use this possibility. The depreciatory choice of words ("agitation") is referring to the highest constitutional office of a German neighbor state and represents a gross diplomatic insult.

EU Commissioner

Over the past few days, European parliamentarians - particularly Germans - have been handling President Klaus with a string of invectives and provocations, not only because of the Lisbon Treaty but also because, beginning January 1, the Czech Republic takes over as President of the European Council. According to the SWP, that country, being a "small, new EU member state" must "confront the accusations" that it "cannot adequately represent Brussels in these difficult times."[5] Paraphrasing Prague's purported incompetence is an element of great power arrogance, historically well known beyond the German borders. These provocations have to be seen in the context of divergences between Prague and the EU's core states, particularly in the field of foreign policy. EU parliamentarian Martin Schulz announced that "as head of the social-democratic parliamentary group," he would "feel free to show" the Czech government "its political limits". Schulz is aiming particularly at Václav Klaus, saying that Klaus is "the spiritus rector of the anti-Europeans in the European Union." "I do believe that this man is not harmless for the European Union in the current situation." The social democratic politician announced "that in the long run, European policy is going to disregard him." His party would like to see Schulz as EU Commissioner.


Daniel Cohn-Bendit, EU parliamentarian (Green Party) and long time follower of former German Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer is also resorting to blunt provocations. At a meeting with EU parliamentarians at the end of last week, Cohn-Bendit handed Czech President Václav Klaus an EU-flag. Prague has not experienced this kind of behavior for decades, explained the head of the President's Office. It was obviously a major provocation toward Václav Klaus, an outspoken critic of the Lisbon Treaty, who has so far refused to hoist the EU flag at the Prague Castle, his official residence. In reaction to this provocation, Klaus asked that the meeting be closed. Following his PR-coup, Cohn-Bendit was quoted in the German press as saying that the Czech President behaved "like a paranoid".[6] This type of pathologizing is stock in trade of the repertoire of German political aggression and was understood as such in the Czech Republic.


If, in spite of Berlin's massive pressure on Dublin or Prague, the Lisbon Treaty is defeated, German government advisors are contemplating seeking "other, politically sustainable ways" to reorganize the EU.[7] The Lisbon Treaty - that was democratically rejected in Ireland, just as its nearly identical predecessor (the EU Constitution project) in France and the Netherlands - will be "the most important basis," also in the future, according to SWP. Germany, the most powerful country in Europe, would like to bring the continent even more under its control. Concerning these insistent German efforts, SWP continues "Europe's polyarchy has to be regulated". "In the long run", it is indispensable to implement a "revision of the Treaty" along the present model - no matter what it will be called.

Further information on German Ireland policy can be found here: The End of Neutrality, Irish Neutrality, Plan B, Ireland is Everywhere and Disastrous Consequences.

[1] Ireland not serving citizens on Lisbon, says Ganley; EU observer 19.11.2008
[2] see also Das Ende der Neutralität and Das Ende der Neutralität (II)
[3] Irland: Bischöfe unter Druck aus Brüssel; Radio Vatikan 26.11.2008
[4], [5] Kathrin Keil, Tomislav Maršić: Die Ratifikation des Lissaboner Vertrags in Tschechien. Zwischen Vertiefungsskepsis und Staatsraison, Diskussionspapier der FG 1, 2008/16, Dezember 2008, SWP Berlin
[6] Europa-Flagge lässt Präsident Klaus ausflippen; Spiegel Online 05.12.2008
[7] Julia Lieb, Andreas Maurer (Hg.): In Trippelschritten zur EU-Reform. Die Ratifikationsverfahren zum Lissaboner Vertrag, Diskussionspapier der FG 1, 2008/18 und FG 2, 2008/10, Dezember 2008, SWP Berlin