It's Time for EU to Listen; as the Fallout and Bitter Recriminations Continue after Irish Voters' Rejection of the European Union Lisbon Treaty, Plaid MEP Jill Evans Applauds Their Actions and Calls for Wales to Be Given a Stronger Voice in the EU
Byline: Jill Evans
IRELAND'S rejection of the European Union Lisbon Treaty was clear and decisive. A majority of the Irish electorate voted against the treaty and turnout at 53% was amongst the highest ever in Ireland for a referendum.
The Irish people knew what they were being asked to vote for and rejected it. It was not a vote based on ignorance or confusion. Every house received a leaflet with information and the address of a web site where they could read a simple summary of the treaty. It got 280,000 hits.
But the people were not convinced by the arguments.
There is a serious disconnect between the EU and the people of Europe. This vote is the latest episode in the process that started with the European Convention in 2003 and led to the rejection of the doomed European Constitution.
Of course, voters, including Irish voters, have rejected European treaties in the past and a way forward has been found. This time things are far more serious.
Talking to my Irish colleagues in the European Parliament, it's clear that Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was not a vote against the European Union. Ireland has benefited greatly from EU membership, and the Irish people are in favour of it. But they didn't support the future direction of Europe that the Lisbon Treaty mapped out. Even if the 26 other member states ratify (and the Czech Republic and Poland now have serious doubts), Ireland cannot be forced to change its mind. Yet that's exactly what they're trying to do. Substantial pressure was put on the Irish Prime Minister at last week's European Summit in Brussels to propose a solution, and finally he's been given until October to come up with an answer, as if the problem lay in Ireland and not in the EU.
But before Europe can truly move forward we first have to tear up the Lisbon Treaty. The outdated vision of a Europe dominated by the big member states has failed. Europe's leaders must now aim for a more democratic Europe: a Europe of the peoples. Plaid Cymru believes in a Europe where the people of small nations such as Wales would count just as much as Ireland or France. Size is not an issue here. Six out of the 27 current member states are smaller than Wales. It's about connecting with people.
We should have got the message by now that the European project is not working! The European Commission and European governments have to start listening.
We haven't got off to a very good start. …