Pre-emptive capitulation, part 1

by John Quiggin on November 30, 2010

In comments on my post 10 days ago canvassing the possibility of a pre-emptive capitulation by Obama and the Congressional Democrats, Marc asked

When this doesn’t happen, can I ask for a mea culpa on your part?

Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to have to deliver on this.
[click to continue…]

Ireland and European Integration

by Henry on November 30, 2010

I’m a bit surprised not to have seen anyone making this point, but one obvious consequence of the current situation in Ireland is that European integration (to the extent that it is driven by Treaty change) is dead for the foreseeable future. New Treaties – if they are to be passed, not only require unanimity, but have to pass through two veto points.

First, they have to get a majority vote in a referendum in Ireland. This is thanks to a legal ruling (the Crotty ruling) that Treaty texts which have constitutional implications (which any Treaty involving significant further integration obviously _would_ have) require popular assent in a referendum. Given popular anger at the way that the bailout has been structured, I imagine that the chances of Ireland voting ‘yes’ to any new European initiative are close to zero.

Yet even if somehow the Irish people could be persuaded to say yes to some initiative – perhaps because it put in place a more equitable system of fiscal transfers in the case of crisis – it would have to pass through the second veto point – the German Constitutional Court. The Court has made it clear in recent rulings that it is not prepared to countenance major new initiatives that might e.g. “shift responsibility for decisions over fiscal policy”:http://www.eurointelligence.com/index.php?id=581&L=&tx_ttnews%5Bpointer%5D=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=2507&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=898&cHash=9a95444282 to the EU level. In other words – any more equitable system of economic governance is likely to be vetoed.

It is extremely hard to envisage Treaty changes that could get a yes vote in Ireland. It is next to impossible to imagine any new Treaty that could _both_ get a yes vote in Ireland, _and_ survive scrutiny in Karlsruhe. Hence – the process of ‘ever closer union’ through Treaty change is effectively dead. One can imagine other mechanisms of change (drift, policy incrementalism, ECJ rulings) coming into play, but they are unlikely to result in any very obvious changes except over the very long run.