English Pages, 19. 6. 2008
What do you think about the Irish NO?
The whole of Europe should thank the Irish people for slowing down the current erroneous processes towards more unification, towards the suppression of nation states, towards a ‘Europe of regions’, and towards greater centralization from above, which the Lisbon Treaty embodied. The referendum was a perfect example of what ordinary people think about this development – at odds with the EU-supporting politicians whose motivation lies elsewhere. I thanked a few Irish personally.
What does the Irish NO mean for the fate of the Lisbon Treaty in your view? What impact will it have on the EU as a whole?
I cannot imagine any development other than recognition of the fact that this is not the way to go. Let’s seek a European model different from a supranational state with its centre in Brussels. Let’s go back to a community of friendly, effectively cooperating states. Let’s keep most of the competencies on the level of states. We should let people living on the European continent be Czechs, Poles, Italians, Danes, and not make Europeans of them. That is a flawed project. The difference between a Czech, a Pole, an Italian and a Dane (as random examples) and a European is akin to the difference between Czech, Polish, Danish languages and Esperanto. ‘Europeanness’ is Esperanto: an artificial, dead language.
What follows from the Irish NO for the Czech Republic? Should we continue preparing for ratification under these circumstances, or is it no longer necessary? The British, for instance, have declared that they are going to continue the ratification process regardless of the results in Ireland...
Ratification cannot be continued, the Treaty can no longer enter into force. To continue as though nothing has happened would be pure hypocrisy. This would be more significant news about the ‘state of the Union’ than the Irish NO. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic ended last Friday. To pretend something else is undignified – at least if we presume to live in a world where one plus one equals two. I don’t think the British themselves declared anything; it was the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown who made a declaration. British democracy is much more complex.
Does the Irish NO change your attitude towards the possibility of holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic? And if so, how?
There is now no need to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in our country as there is nothing to vote on. The only possible question would be: ‘Do you, the Czechs, want the Irish to vote again and differently?’ It is not about us today.
Should the European Union attempt to create an entirely new document in the wake of the Irish NO, instead of dusting the Treaty off or revising it?
A document is only ever the last step. We need a new perception of the European integration process. It is necessary to explicitly refuse the post-Maastricht development towards an ever closer union. The resulting document must be written on a different basis and by different people.
It cannot be written by a German politician who thinks in federalist terms and has been in the European Parliament for the past 30 years. Nor can it be written by a French politician for whom ‘Europeanisation’ is a way to increase the greatness and the importance of France, or by a representative of a country which wants to find solutions to some of its historical traumas ‘via Europe’.
What is needed is detached consideration about the correct administration of ‘public goods’ – which of them belong at the level of towns, regions and states and which at the level of the continent. And above all, which of them do not belong anywhere, because the issue is not public but ‘private good’, which must remain subject to the decision-making of free individuals.
What impact will the Irish decision have on the Czech EU Presidency in 2009?
We will have a few more competences than we would have had had the Lisbon Treaty been in force. The Treaty substantially weakened the states and therefore also the presidency of any one of them. But let us not live in illusions. I know well that the entire concept of a rotating presidency is, to a certain extent, just playing at real democracy.
Petr Kolář, Lidové noviny, 16 June 2008
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