EU: When No means No…

Joe Higgins bring Irish message to Brussels EU Council meeting

Pictures on Linkse Socialistische Partij’s website (cwi in Belgium)

When No means No…

The EU Council met on Thursday 19 June in Brussels to discuss its reaction to the Irish No vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Joe Higgins and the CWI organised a protest action to make clear that, “No does not mean Yes!”

The Irish No Vote was a shock for the European establishment. The EU Council in Brussels was dominated by discussions on how to go further. Yet, all the Irish participants in the debate were politicians who favoured a Yes vote in the referendum. Representatives of the No vote were not involved in the debate and had to resort to a protest action behind a police line that even blocked the passage of journalists.

Joe Higgins, public representative of the Socialist Party in Ireland, and a leading No campaigner, came to Brussels to demand respect for the Irish No vote, which was a clear rejection of neo-liberal policies. He was joined by some 25 members and supporters of LSP/MAS (the Belgian CWI section), in a lively protest nearby the EU Council meeting.

The European leaders decided to take more time to discuss the situation, possibly to make some slight amendments to the text before being submitted to a new vote in a referendum in Ireland. A slightly adopted version of the Treaty means the European leaders will not take the No vote into account. Joe Higgins made clear that some slight changes are not sufficient: “If the €80 billion poured into arms was put into social services and health care that would be another matter. But it won’t happen,” he said to journalists.

Our opposition to the neo-liberal EU starts from an internationalist position, defending workers’ rights, public healthcare, education and other vital services. Joe Higgins explained to the protesters why the Socialist Party opposed the Lisbon Treaty and gave more information on the campaign. We shouted slogans like: “International Resistance against the capitalist Europe”.

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June 2008