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Commentary on the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty
Wednesday February 29, 2012 13:25 by O.O'C. - Peoples' Movement post at people dot ie 25 Shanowen Crescent · Dublin 9 087 2308330
(Fiscal Compact Treaty & Irish referendum)
After they had agreed the final wording of the intergovernmental agreement—the "Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union"—the member-states of the euro area pronounced that the treaty “represents a major step towards closer and irrevocable fiscal and economic integration and stronger governance in the euro area,” which they claimed “will significantly bolster the outlook for fiscal sustainability and euro area sovereign debt and enhance growth.”
According to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the euro-zone member-states have set themselves on an “irreversible course towards a fiscal union.” She told an international gathering at Davos:
“We have to become used to the European Commission becoming more and more like a government.”
The Government seems determined to push ahead in the next few months with the ratification of this treaty and its partner, the revised Treaty on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
The two treaties would make euro-zone member-states into regimes of economic austerity, involving deeper and deeper cuts in public expenditure, increases in indirect taxes, reductions in wages, sustained liberalisation of markets, and privatisation of public property.
The cumulative effect of being bound by both treaties would be an obligation to insert a balanced-budget rule...
“through provisions of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional or otherwise guaranteed to be fully respected and adhered to throughout the national budgetary processes,”
...put Irish budgets under permanent and detailed euro-zone supervision, make the existing subordination of Ireland’s interests to those of the “stability of the euro area as a whole” even more systematic and pronounced, impose conditions of “strict conditionality” without limit for ESM “solidarity” financial bail-outs, and require Ireland to contribute some €11 billion to the ESM fund when it is established later this year.
In other words, the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty will make a permanent feature of that external interference in our economic governance that was so obnoxious when Fianna Fáil surrendered sovereignty to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But if it’s bad in the short term—and it is—it’s even worse when it’s made permanent.
The fact that the British and Czech governments are not going to ratify the treaty is clear evidence that an EU member-state can stay outside it and still remain within the European Union. So the Irish Government cannot avoid holding a referendum by claiming that signing it is, in the words of article 29.4.10 of the Constitution, “necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union.”
And from a democratic and sovereignty point of view the treaties represent an abject surrender of governmental powers clearly vested by the Constitution exclusively in the democratically accountable organs of the state. This places a clear obligation on the Government to seek the consent of the people in a referendum before it makes any attempt to ratify these treaties.
Below is an annotated version of the treaty, which the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, hopes to sign at a meeting of the European Council in March and which his Government hope to be able to ratify by the end of the year.
There is a fundamental division between those who advocate that euro-zone member-states should abandon more and more control over their financial and economic affairs and those who see a solution to our crisis in establishing genuine national independence and democracy. Central to the latter position is winning back for this country, and the other countries of Europe, the fundamental state powers that have been surrendered and using them intelligently for the benefit of the majority of the people, rather than for the social and economic elite.
The treaty has been drafted in such a way as to hoodwink the gullible into believing that the institutions of the European Union will not be involved in actions and procedures beyond those that they have already been involved in and that they will act only within the framework of EU treaties. However, the fact is that the EU institutions will be used in new procedures and would exercise new powers created by the treaty.
What is involved is further EU integration through an intergovernmental agreement that confers new powers on the EU institutions outside the EU legal framework and changes the rules concerning the powers of the EU institutions. The main issue during the negotiations on the treaty was whether the contracting parties should be allowed to use the EU institutions to implement, monitor and enforce compliance with the proposed new set-up.
The EU institutions were created by the EU treaties, which conferred upon them powers and duties. The role of the EU institutions is not only defined by the European Treaties but is limited by those treaties, and it would be unlawful for an institution to operate beyond the powers granted to it by the treaties.
Read the Annotated Version of the TREATY ON STABILITY, COORDINATION AND GOVERNANCE IN THE ECONOMIC AND MONETARY UNION: