Eoghan speaking in the Dáil.

“The democratic ideal behind the European Union is under threat”

Posted December 8th, 2011

Eoghan speaking during Private Members Business, 8.12.2011

The Government’s amendment states that we “support efforts to secure an agreement at this week’s meeting of the European Council that fully protects Irish interests and that contributes to the restoration of stability in the Euro area.”

I might have added “and that also restores the founding principles and ideals of the European project”.

The democratic ideal behind the European Union is under threat. It is an ideal that is unique in the international system of states. Independent nations of different sizes and strengths have come together in cooperation. That cooperation is structured around the principle of equality amongst sovereigns – one Member, one vote.

The crisis in the Eurozone threatens all of this.

It threatens this, because if we do not save our currency and it breaks up it could very possibly break-up the EU and all that has been achieved before the Euro. No more equality on the continent between nations, no more common market.

At the very same time, the manner in which we attempt to save the Euro, also risks destroying the European project, as Member States and institutions seek to assert their will over others, undermining the democratic ideal and casting us back to the realpolitik of “the strong do what they will to survive, the weak do what they must”.

We have a good thing, a unique thing here in the European Union. We have a good thing, a unique thing here in the Euro currency.

If war is an extension of politics by other means, so too is economics, but at the other end of the spectrum. And with economics – the coal & steel community, the common market and then the Eurozone, people sought to make advances that war or politics could never make. But we may have taken economics too far, further than the people were willing to go.

It is clear now that we rushed with the Eurozone project, not putting in place the proper architecture for a properly functioning common currency, not heeding the many warnings from nobel prize winning economists and others that were given at the time.

We cannot go back to the past.

We stand here faced with a genuine dilemma.

  • How to protect Irish interests – sovereignty and independence over our fiscal affairs;
  • How to stabilise the Euro area – in a manner that is credible AND fair;
  • And how to restore that fundamental principle of European Union – where no member is more equal than another.

This is the biggest decision that our government and our country will face in its lifetime. We must face in to it in a rational way. And in a calm way. A decision may not come tomorrow, but it will come. Everything will change and we must be ready for that.