It appears Ireland has sold her sovereignty to the EU. The arrangement known as the Lisbon Treaty, despite its predecessor treaty having been rejected in 2007, met with the approval of Irish voters in a referendum today.
Why has Ireland done this? Why has she changed her mind so dramatically? The answer to that, according to most reports, is not much in doubt: The Eurozone is a refuge from the tumult of world finance. In other words, the driver for this shift in opinion is the usury crisis, which I gather Irish banks were up to their ears in; so much so that, as an FT columnist put it, the place had started to resemble Reykjavik-on-the-Liffey (Lex column, Oct. 2). As in the Dylan song, the EU stands there beckoning to the Irish:
Come in, she said, I'll give ya
Shelter from the storm
There is an almost insulting presumption in much of the promotion of EU consolidation. Fears from local patriots and conservatives about the loss of sovereignty are sort of sneered at and not much addressed.
And then, of course, there is this ingenious device, as seen today. The European plutocracy, if it cannot win a first referendum granting it new elements of sovereignty, need not fear; another will be held some years down the road. Lisbon is said to include important concessions to Irish sovereignty on abortion and taxation. Fair enough. But if the EU, some time from now, fails to honor its commitments on those points, will Ireland have recourse to her own new referendum? Risible. Why American policy vis-a-vis the EU has been so muted about these difficulties is a puzzle for diplomatic historians to sort out.
But Americans of all peoples on earth ought to be keen on this intense conundrum of confederated government. Any American can see the pretense in the notion that Ireland can be sovereign, and yet the EU, too, can be sovereign. The Irish shall give away their sovereignty and keep it? Nonsense on stilts.
All that said, it does seem to me, intuitively, that there is more sense in Irish alliance and combination with France and other Continental powers, than with many of the other EU combinations being attempted. That is to say, fusing the sovereignty and culture of Ireland with France is a daunting notion indeed; but not nearly so daunting as fusing France and Germany, much less Spain and Poland or England and Italy.