A draft Discussion Document for the Peace and Neutrality Alliance.
- May 2004
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance was established in 1996 to advocate an independent Irish foreign policy, Irish neutrality and a reformed United Nations as the institution through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns. PANA seeks to ensure that the future of the EU is as a Partnership of Independent, Democratic States, and legal equals, without a military dimension.
Therefore PANA has opposes the militarisation of the EU and campaigned against the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties. It played a key role in defeating the Nice Treaty the first time it was placed before the Irish people, and gained some important concessions from the Irish Government. Firstly, the Government was forced to ensure that there would be a Constitutional obligation to have a referendum before Ireland joined a EU mutual defence pact; secondly, Irish troops would only participate in the ERRF if it had a UN mandate. And thirdly, it made the Seville Declaration confirming Irish neutrality.
PANA, while welcoming these concessions, believed they did not go far enough. Our minimum demand was that a Protocol, which would be legally binding, similar to that which already applies to Denmark, which would exclude Ireland from any involvement with the ERRF, would be added to the Treaty. PANA therefore opposed the Nice Treaty the 2nd time it was placed before the Irish people. They voted in favour the 2nd time, which showed the concessions had some effect in swinging people to vote in favour, even though the Treaty itself was exactly the same. Yet other factors such as the massive disparity in financial expenditure (a 10-1 ratio would be a conservative estimate, and no state expenditure) between the political forces advocating a yes vote and those advocating a no vote also played a major part in the outcome of the 2nd referendum. Even then, 38% of the people voted no.
Since then, the Government has terminated the policy of Irish neutrality by allowing the US to use Shannon airport as a military base in its illegal invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq, thus making the Seville Declaration on Irish neutrality utterly meaningless. The major opposition party, Fine Gael, has already declared its decision to destroy Irish neutrality and to declare Irish troops should participate within the ERRF without a UN mandate.
Now a draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe is being negotiated, even though the Laken Declaration of January 2001 envisaged a EU Constitution, "in the long run". PANA again demands a rejection of the Constitution for the EU unless a Protocol, which unlike a Declaration is legally binding, to exclude Ireland from participation in the militarisation of the EU, in particular the ERRF, becomes part of the Constitution. Such a Protocol is our absolute bottom line. However the draft Constitution has major implications for the Irish people on issues far wider than Irish involvement with the ERRF and this discussion document therefore covers a wider range of issues than just the militarisation of the EU. The figures show there are massive scope for demilitarization, yet instead the EU Constitution calls for more military expenditure.
An examination of the draft Constitution shows that that it formalizes the establishment of a centralized state structure and institutionalizes a neo-liberal ideology, the kind of laissez faire economic values that were dominate in the mid 19th century when Ireland was part of the British Union. The EU Constitution, as it stands, represents a EU with a strong military dimension, closely aligned with a nuclear military bloc (NATO), and committed to increased arms spending, and support for the arms industry. It also takes several giant steps towards a fully-fledged military alliance, armed not just with a military capacity but also with mutual solidarity commitments and, in some cases, mutual defence commitments between member States, all within the structures of the EU. There is no apparent room for a neutral state in such a Union.
The recent TSN/MRBI poll (9/1/04), which showed 47% support for EU Constitution, did not ask the people had they read it. Since the Irish media gave no coverage to the PANA press statement on the draft EU Constitution, it is clear that the people have not heard any debate on the content of the draft EU Constitution, they have only heard the case for an EU Constitution, and a distorted one at that.
Since the same poll showed that a majority (51%) of the people now wants to ensure that Ireland should do all it can to protect its independence from the EU, we should be confident that if the EU Constitution is ever placed before the Irish people as it is now drafted, and there was a campaign for Irish Independence, it could be defeated.
Those political forces that wish to destroy Irish Independence, Democracy and Neutrality and to restore the Imperial traditions of the British Union will not find it an easy task. The main reason why the political elites of the different states in the EU wish to support the proposed EU Constitution is because it transfers power to themselves and takes it away from their respective peoples and their National Assemblies. The Irish political elite regards their own people as not worthy of having power and that they, together with the elites of the other states of the EU should wield power. PANA however believes all power in Ireland derives from the Irish people, and that they, not an elite, should retain it. The elite have won some battles and we have won others. Next time, we win.
Thanks to the courage of Raymond Crotty, the Irish elite was forced to have referendums every time they transferred power to the EU elite several years ago. Now that Britain has been forced to join Ireland and other states that will have referendums, there will be pressure on all EU states have referendums on the EU Constitution. Our own experience in winning as we did for Nice 1, will allow Ireland to play a significant role in ensuring the defeat of this EU Constitution which seeks to establish a centralized Imperial Superstate. Through our affiliation to the European Peace & Human Rights Network and TEAM, we have already established links with other peace and democratic groups throughout Europe. There needs to be a call for every state to have a referendum and greater co-operation to ensure the defeat of the political forces advocating the creation of a European Imperial State. There defeat, and the building of links with other democratic and anti-imperial groups will allow us to help build a Democratic Europe, a Partnership of Democratic States. This discussion document is a contribution to the building of such a Democratic European Union.
The EU can have a future as such a Partnership. Yet PANA accepts that much of the history of the EU has been benign. Indeed, if the core reason for the foundation of the EU was to ensure that the states of Europe, in particular, Germany, France and Britain no longer were responsible for the deaths of millions of people through imperial wars in Europe, then its establishment must surely be welcomed. Yet anybody with a knowledge of the imperial traditions of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain have every reason to oppose the rapid development of a military dimension of the EU.
The fact that Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (up to recently), all have troops in Iraq to support the illegal invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq is clear and positive proof that the European Imperial tradition is not just history, but is alive and well. That virtually the entire political elite in Ireland actively supports the conquest of Iraq is absolute proof that PANA is totally correct to see the creation of the EU as the restoration of the Irish Imperial tradition, the restoration of Empire. Fianna Fail (or should it be Fianna Bush), Fine Gael, the PD's, a reasonable section of the Irish Labour Party form a neo-Redmondite alliance and are committed to the creation of a centralized Imperial super state. We need to build up an alternative alliance, a government that seeks a Democratic Europe, a Partnership of Democratic states.