Thursday, July 24, 2008
Are the Irish the only people able to stop the new Dark Age?
Yesterday Italy's Senate ratified the Lisbon Treaty without even one vote of dissent. The EU will call this a democratic decision, but when, you might ask, has there ever been a vote taken by 100% of all deputies in any democratic organisation? Sure in Iraq where dissent meant instant death, or in Soviet Russia, 'Parliaments' would invariably vote 100% as instructed. But in Italy, a supposed modern democracy where a large section of the population stands against the Lisbon Treat and further EU integration, to have a 100% vote in favour of Lisbon, should set the alarm bells ringing.
German ratification is delayed by the President alone who is withholding his signature while various legal challenges to Lisbon are made, and the Czech Republic is still yet to commit itself, with President Klaus Vaclav notably trying to prevent Lisbon ratification. Meanwhile Poland has fallen, and the Czech Republic will no doubt also fall victim to the combined effects of corruption and threat, which seem to so effective in knocking over so-called democratic representatives.
That leaves one country where the bully boys have yet to have their way - Ireland. Ireland is a country with long experience of corruption and violence in its political life, and as such, is uniquely qualified to see what the Lisbon Treaty signifies. The Irish have expereinced loss of freedom over centuries, and been willing to keep fighting religious wars long after the rest of Europe long forgot that enemy meant either Prorestant or Catholic.
Ireland is a country unique in Europe where people speak to each other (at length!) - even strangers are welcome to join in a chat - which is one reason why I love visiting Ireland. In Britain and much of the rest of Europe, a stranger who talks is regarded with deep suspicion, or dislike even. Continental countries, for the most part, have a culture of consensus where it is hard to express strong disapproval of the actions of government. These countries are natural slaves, ideal material to suffer corrupt, threatening and militaristic regimes as they have often done on the past. In Ireland, on the other hand, central power is regarded with the deepest suspicion - always.
Somewhere in the folds of the Irish tapestry of life, there lies hope that authoritarianism will not triumph, and that democracy will live in Europe once more. But that hope now lives only in Ireland, as the rest of Europe descends fast into a New Dark Age.
UPDATE - Anyone who doubts that the EU is offering money to achieve its political objectives, might take note of the allegations made by the EU Commission's former auditor - Mrs Andreason, as follows -
In her speech to the 250 attendees, Mrs Andreasen said that her sacking by Neil Kinnock (then the self-proclaimed ‘anti-fraud Tsar’ of the Commission) for trying to make European taxpayers aware of the massive levels of fraud and waste taking place, ‘demonstrated the level of accountability, transparency and integrity that can be expected from the EU institutions’. As Marta Andreasen pointed out, she was sacked by Baron Kinnock on grounds of ‘disloyalty’ to the EU while officials involved in the Eurostat (the body responsible for official EU figures) scandal have not been suspended, let alone dismissed. ‘This fraud consisted in the discovery of slush funds belonging to the European Commission that were being channelled to unofficial bank accounts and used for unauthorised purposes. Nobody was held responsible. The Commissioners claimed ignorance.’
She drew attention to the fact that the EU Constitution will confirm, under Protocol 7, immunities from legal proceedings for all officials, even after they have left office. Yet, Mrs Andreasen is now unemployed and having to fund her own legal action against the Commission for wrongful dismissal. She said she had been judged and removed from office by commissioners ‘who have been managing the EU funds on a system that they knew was open to fraud.’
This kind of thing makes you wonder whether every Italian senator received a nice little bung, for example, and how much pay-off is now being used to get Ireland sorted. If I am asked to believe that extensive bribery is not being used to push The Lisbon Treaty through the Parliaments of Europe, I don't.
UPDATE - Open Europe on the scale of corruption and the direct involvement of the Commission.
Commission report reveals EU loses 6.5 million euros a day to fraud and irregularities - serious problems in Commission's own accounts;
Commission freezes funds to Bulgaria over corruption
Agence Europe reveals that a new report from the European Commission has shown that the EU lost 1.4 billion euros in reported fraud and financial irregularities in 2007, compared with around 1.2 billion euros in 2006. This amounts to 6.5 million euros lost every working day.
The number of structural measures and Cohesion Fund irregularities reported rose by 19.2% (3,832 cases in 2007, compared with 3,216 in 2006). The estimated financial impact (828 million euros, or around 1.83% of commitment appropriations) was up by 17.7%.
The Commission report reveals that suspected fraud has also increased - 208.9 million euros in 2007, compared with 188.93 euros million in 2006.
The article notes that for the first time, the report contains statistics on expenditure directly managed by the Commission. The estimated number of irregularities in this area came to 411, with an estimated financial impact of 33 million euros, 18.1 million euros of which was accounted for by 136 reported cases of suspected fraud.
Many newspapers report on the European Commission's plan to suspend 486 million euros of EU funding to Bulgaria. The decision comes after a Commission report which said: "High-level corruption remains a serious problem. It has not yet been effectively tackled by the administration and the judiciary. The Bulgarian authorities have not applied the law in such a way to reduce corruption in state institutions".
Last night on BBC Newsnight, Neil O'Brien from Open Europe suggested that the actions of the European Commission were not strong enough. He said: "There are much stronger levers that the EU has to try and deal with [these problems of corruption]... this really isn't the strongest thing they could've done". He added: "I think it is time to start questioning whether it is actually helping these countries to fire-hose money at them in this way", when we know there is widespread corruption and that complex financing projects are particularly open to fraud.
When questioned on whether this is a reason to halt further enlargement Neil replied: "This will be seized on, unfortunately, by people who want to stop enlargement and don't want to let Croatia in; people like Nicolas Sarkozy, who are basically anti-enlargement altogether... what should happen is, we should carry on with enlargement but we should change the way we run the European Union".