Referendum would not be the worst possible outcome if it restores democratic accountability and confidence in the Euro - Green Party

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9th December 2011 | Uncategorised

Referendum would not be the worst possible outcome if it restores democratic accountability and confidence in the Euro


The Green Parties of Europe met in Paris last month and agreed on a common approach to the crisis. That declaration ( ) outlined a series of positions that the Taoiseach might now profitably adopt.

Having got into difficulties because of failures in our own budget system, I do not see the legal requirement to apply an additional European layer of budget oversight as an onerous imposition. Indeed we could use this time of change to also delegate revenue raising and spending powers down to a more local and regional level. With that approach we could end up with a budget system that has greater rather than lesser local democratic accountability. 

One of the biggest risks this weekend is that we will end up with a two-speed Europe where our nearest neighbours would be cut off from us. This could bring immediate economic costs but it would also undermine the real strength of the European project which has come from decades of countries working together rather than fighting over their differences.

A real problem with the Union has been the failure to strengthened its democratic structures in step with the increasing powers it has acquired. The intergovernmental approach that the French and German Governments took to the Euro crisis is clearly not the right way forward and neither is a purely technocratic approach from the Commission.

If the result of this weekend is greater fiscal integration then we need to be honest and test that approach with our people. If the lack of democratic accountability has been the problem then the use of a referendum to agree treaty reform should not be seen as the worst possible outcome. While such a move would be difficult and could take time it might in the end restore the confidence that is needed in the Euro currency.

The Green Party has traditionally held a minority view on European Union treaties. While other parties told the people to vote ‘yes’ in a series of referenda for fear of losing billions coming from Brussels, we did speak out about the inherent imbalances that could develop in the single currency union. At this time of crisis, when the mood is so sceptical about the whole European Union project, we now need politicians who will remind people of the long term benefits of the Union and who are willing to stand up for some democratic ideals.