If At First You Don’t Succeed

Last time the Treaty of Lisbon, aimed at reforming the EU’s institutional structure, was put up for a vote in Ireland it went down to defeat. That’s a problem. The treaty can’t go forward unless everyone ratifies it and nobody feels like letting a giant continent-wide scheme go down in flames over an adverse referendum result in a very small country way off in the corner. Hence, having obtained some “clarifications” but no actual changes in the text of the treaty, the Irish are now supposed to vote again.

This time polls predict that the ayes will have it since for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me* the economic crisis is thought to bolster the case for European integration. Things related to the EU are perennially prompting popular grousing, but Lisbon should address some real problems with the current system, enhancing the power of the parliament and reducing the need for majority voting.

If anything EU membership seems harmful in the present circumstances. A fully independent small open economy like Ireland would have seen a swift and massive devaluation of its currency which would have reduced the need for a rise in unemployment.



I should say that euro membership, rather than EU membership per se, seems to me to have been harmful to Ireland during the crisis.