Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Economics of Lisbon

There are 43 days left until Ireland votes again on the Lisbon Treaty, but it doesn't look like there's much campaigning by the main political parties on the issue. The politicians are on their holidays, but you would think that there would be more activity considering the vote is so vital (politically, at least, if nothing else).

And the arguments being made, when they are made, haven't been fantastic. The Minister for Foreign Affairs was on the radio earlier today speaking of the importance ratification has for Ireland's economy recovery. This message was reinforced by Intel, which has come out in favour of the Treaty:

"Intel Ireland's General Manager said voting Yes to Lisbon would maintain Ireland's attractiveness to multi-national investors.

Jim O'Hara said US multi-nationals and international investors have viewed Ireland as playing a central role in Europe and it is one of the reasons why they have invested here.

He said anything that would enhance that perception would be a good thing and every time we create uncertainty and doubt it does not help us.

Mr O'Hara said the company's call for a Yes vote was an unusual move but he wanted to send a clear message that from a business perspective a Yes vote mattered to the future prosperity and growth of Ireland.

He said last time he and others did not speak up on this crucial issue as they believed a Yes vote was a foregone conclusion."

Intel was heavily fined by the European Commission for anti-competitive practices in May.

I am uncomfortable with this line of argument being almost the sole argument for the Treaty. The Treaty in and of itself doesn't contain an economic strategy or anything, so it doesn't directly impact on Ireland's economics. On the other hand, politics does affect how businesses view a country and can inform their decision of whether or not to invest there. Since one of the major selling points of Ireland for foreign investment is that it can be a base for companies within the single market (from which they can sell products or services across the EU without facing trade barriers), Ireland's political position within the EU could affect its standing in business circles.

While there may be a political point behind this argument, this is not what the Treaty is about. So it shouldn't be the sole argument for voting Yes (as opposed to arguments merely against voting No). It's not enough to say that the Treaty won't damage Ireland's interests in certain areas; the Treaty itself must be "sold" to the public.

The Lisbon Treaty gives more say over EU legislation to the European Parliament, greater say to national parliaments, a right of petition to citizens, gives the Charter of Fundamental rights the status of primary law, and extends QMV in the Council as well as making Council votes public.

Another speech today by the Minister of Foreign Affairs did a better job; hopefully the quality of the Yes campaign will be better this time.

Or am I being too demanding in what I expect from the Yes side of the debate?

1 comment:

  1. We wish that Irish politicians finish holidays real soon. This is a theme that mathers to all Europeans citizen, and we hope you vote "YES".