European Treaty changes expected to be agreed tomorrow

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An Intergovernmental conference tomorrow is expected to agree to changes to the treaties increasing the number of MEPs in the European Parliament by 18.

Of the 18 new seats in the European Parliament, Spain will get four new seats. Austria, France and Sweden will get two, while Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom will all have one more MEP.

So why is this change happening? The European Parliament says that this is because the European elections in June of last year were held under the Nice treaty's rules, whereas the Lisbon Treaty is now in force. The changes to the treaties will allow these 18 MEPs to take their seats without doing the elections across the EU all over again. The proposed changes also allow for the appointment of national parliamentarians to the European Parliament, essentially meaning that elections for those 18 seats may not need to take place.

The agreed changes will need to be ratified in each member-state subject to their own constitutional requirements.

The proposed textual changes can be viewed here.
 
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So it's a change to the treaty, how do we think the changes will be approved in Ireland?

Don't get me wrong, I went from No in Lisbon 1 to Yes in Lisbon 2. But I do recall a claim during Lisbon 1 that changes to the treaties without the need for a referendum weren''t true.
 

Ulster-Lad

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The government will argue that these changes do not effect Ireland and therefore it does not require a referendum. It will be approved in the Dáil without any voice of the people. You are correct that in Lisbon I, it was stated that no changes could be made to the treaty without a referendum. This could be then used for future changes as well without a referendum based on 'Precedence'. The last thing the government wants now is any sort of ballot.
 

Tig

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Are these changes not happening as a direct result of the approval of the Lisbon treaty?

In other words, have we not voted and approved this change already via the approval of the Lisbon Treaty?
 

ivnryn

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The odds of a referendum are pretty close to zero.

Since it is so minor, it will be impossible to guilt trip the voters into supporting it. Any referendum would effectively be a motion of confidence in the government.

Now, the question is how FG will react to this, given their recent weakening of support for the EU.
 

ivnryn

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Are these changes not happening as a direct result of the approval of the Lisbon treaty?

In other words, have we not voted and approved this change already via the approval of the Lisbon Treaty?
Kind of. We have agreed the new numbers, but they won't take effect until the next EU parliament elections. This allows the numbers to be updated immediately, which we didn't previously agree to.
 
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Are these changes not happening as a direct result of the approval of the Lisbon treaty?

In other words, have we not voted and approved this change already via the approval of the Lisbon Treaty?
I suspect the changes bridge the treaties together. Letting stuff in Lisbon to be used for things still under under Nice. I do recall large amount of hullabuloo about MEPs that wouldn't take seats as a result of the European elections because Lisbon hadn't been put in place.

But I think this will be an interesting exercise in seeing how this change is handled by the Oireachtas (and I wasn't suggesting there should be a referendum, i was perhaps (!) being a but glib).

But further changes to the treaty are likely in the next few months, particularly for financial regulation in the Eurozone (Cameron this morning said he'd favour such changes) - what happens now will be indicative of what happens then.
 

QuizMaster

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Ok I don't know the fine details of the treaty or other legal stuff, but is this going to set a precedent that the Lisbon Treaty is "self amending", and that future changes, which might be more major and have a more direct affect on Ireland, can be nodded though by the Dail?
If Fine Gael/Labour oppose any such changes, are they going to follow through and oppose them in government also?
Will Mr. D. Cochrane regret changing sides?
 
D

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An Intergovernmental conference tomorrow is expected to agree to changes to the treaties increasing the number of MEPs in the European Parliament by 18.

Of the 18 new seats in the European Parliament, Spain will get four new seats. Austria, France and Sweden will get two, while Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom will all have one more MEP.

So why is this change happening? The European Parliament says that this is because the European elections in June of last year were held under the Nice treaty's rules, whereas the Lisbon Treaty is now in force. The changes to the treaties will allow these 18 MEPs to take their seats without doing the elections across the EU all over again. The proposed changes also allow for the appointment of national parliamentarians to the European Parliament, essentially meaning that elections for those 18 seats may not need to take place.

The agreed changes will need to be ratified in each member-state subject to their own constitutional requirements.
The proposed textual changes can be viewed here.
I would suspect - but I could be wrong - that we have already ratified this change by virtue of voting for Lisbon?
 

ivnryn

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Ok I don't know the fine details of the treaty or other legal stuff, but is this going to set a precedent that the Lisbon Treaty is "self amending", and that future changes, which might be more major and have a more direct affect on Ireland, can be nodded though by the Dail?
The rule here is not very clear.

However, it seems to be that if sovereignty is transferred to the EU and that sovereignty transfer could not be foreseen as a natural consequence of a previously agreed treaty, then we need a referendum.

Effectively, the more changes in the treaty, the more likely that at least one of them will be deemed a transfer of sovereignty that requires a referendum.

There was a suggestion during Lisbon that the Dail should approve most of it directly, and the constitutional amendment would just list the small number of transfers of sovereignty.

This would allow the debate focus on just those things that required a constitutional amendment.

This change is clearly not a transfer of sovereignty. It just changes the composition of the EU parliament. The only possible argument is that it weakens Ireland's representation and thus we lose some control. However, it is a natural consequence of agreeing to the new seat totals.

A financial treaty with things like a budget approval process would clearly be a transfer of sovereignty and thus would (should?) require a referendum.
 

SilverSpurs

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This is only a minor tweak and doesnt make radical changes. As such the dail can approve. However the real issues are as follows:
1. A precedent is set for dail ratification of amendments.
2. The claim by various pro Lisbon groups that a referendum is always required has been shown to be a lie.
3. Will the irish guarantees be ratified simultaneously, no word to the affirmative is about as new stuff with tax implications is being discussed. Thus the whole basis of the rerun could be exposed as a sham.
 
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My understanding is that this IGC is only dealing with this change, the additional 18 MEPs.

Also, this will require approval by each memberstate.

I'm not so much interested in the politics itself here, personally my interest is how the mechanics of a change to the treaties take place, and their subsequent approval by memberstates. (and approval will be needed - we haven't already agreed to a change only being agreed tomorrow).

There's more (much more serious) like this to come, precedence in this situation will be set for any future changes.
 

ivnryn

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The "self-amending" section of the Lisbon treaty makes it easier for the EU to create mini-treaties like this one.

While it still requires each country to agree (subject to their constitutional provisions), it makes it easier to get most of the changes through one at a time, rather than having to create a massive treaty with hundreds of pages.
 

brughahaha

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Yipee , just what Europe needs in the middle of a recession , 18 more overpaid MEPs with their greedy faces in the trough..... after all the European parliament is the pinnacle of representative democracy and a vibrant energetic place making such a positive difference to our lives ... and so cost efficient ......:rolleyes::(
 

He3

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My understanding is that this IGC is only dealing with this change, the additional 18 MEPs.

Also, this will require approval by each memberstate.

I'm not so much interested in the politics itself here, personally my interest is how the mechanics of a change to the treaties take place, and their subsequent approval by memberstates. (and approval will be needed - we haven't already agreed to a change only being agreed tomorrow).

There's more (much more serious) like this to come, precedence in this situation will be set for any future changes.
That is the interesting point.
 

Passer-by

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So it's a change to the treaty, how do we think the changes will be approved in Ireland?

Don't get me wrong, I went from No in Lisbon 1 to Yes in Lisbon 2. But I do recall a claim during Lisbon 1 that changes to the treaties without the need for a referendum weren''t true.
Changes to the EU Treaties do NOT automatically require referenda in Ireland. It depends on the nature of the change(s) proposed and whether it falls within the (narrow) parameters laid down by the Supreme Court in the Crotty judgment. Basically, EU Treaty changes only require a referendum if sovereignty either is, or potentially can be, impacted by the change.

Very many EU Treaties do not require referenda. For instance, the various "Treaties of Accession" that admit new member states do not require referenda as they don't involve any potential or actual transfer of sovereignty (i.e. decision making authority). They do however - and this is important - amend the existing EU Treaties to take the new member states into account.

Likewise, of the Treaties that we have had referenda on, it is arguably whether they all have required referenda. Prior to Lisbon I, one constitutional lawyer argued that the changes in it were sufficiently minor that a referendum was not required for it. Indeed, if you read the Crotty judgment, he could well have been right about this. It is only if you start saying "What are the implications of this phrase (in the Crotty judgement)?" that you see why the Government tends to play it safe and submit Treaties in their entirety to the electorate.
 

jacko

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So it's a change to the treaty, how do we think the changes will be approved in Ireland?

Don't get me wrong, I went from No in Lisbon 1 to Yes in Lisbon 2. But I do recall a claim during Lisbon 1 that changes to the treaties without the need for a referendum weren''t true.
`Dave,

my understanding of the debate was that Lisbon provided that future treaty changes would be reatified in accordance with each member states constitutional requirements.

So, any increase in the competence of the EU would require ratification of the treaty changes by constitutional amendment in Ireland (in line with Supreme Court decision in Crotty)

However, minor treaty changes not expanding the competence of the Union do NOT require ratification by constitutional amendment

eg: we change the Treaties each time a new member state acceeds to the EU but we ratify these changes at Oireachtas level
 

He3

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So it's a change to the treaty, how do we think the changes will be approved in Ireland?

Don't get me wrong, I went from No in Lisbon 1 to Yes in Lisbon 2. But I do recall a claim during Lisbon 1 that changes to the treaties without the need for a referendum weren''t true.
These are some of the people who made that claim:

'Despite statements to the contrary, this treaty makes it clear that any future changes to the EU Treaties will continue to have to be ratified in accordance with the constitutional requirements of each member-state, which in Ireland's case is by referendum.


Yours, etc,
DAVID ANDREWS SC, MICHAEL BINCHY, DAVID BYRNE, KATE COLLEARY, SHARON DALY, RICHARD DEVEREUX, PAUL EUSTACE, DAVID GEARY, APRIL GILROY, RICHARD HAMMOND, GERRY KELLY SC, MARTIN G. LAWLOR, CHARLES MEENAN SC, HUGH I. MOHAN SC, COLM MacEOCHAIDH, EOIN McCULLOUGH SC, UNA McGURK SC, PATRICK O'CONNOR, JIM O'CALLAGHAN, RODERIC O'GORMAN, FERGUS O'HAGAN SC, KEVIN O'HIGGINS, MICHAEL O'KENNEDY SC, DESMOND O'MALLEY, ISEULT O'MALLEY SC, Cllr OISIN QUINN, Senator EUGENE REGAN SC, RORY STAINES, ERCUS STEWART SC, DECLAN J. WALSH, TONY WILLIAMS,

Irish Alliance for Europe'.

I picked it up at the time here: http://www.politics.ie/lisbon-treaty/30608-lawyers-letter-blunder.html#post1056775

They never withdrew the false claim.
 

jacko

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These are some of the people who made that claim:

'Despite statements to the contrary, this treaty makes it clear that any future changes to the EU Treaties will continue to have to be ratified in accordance with the constitutional requirements of each member-state, which in Ireland's case is by referendum.


Yours, etc,
DAVID ANDREWS SC, MICHAEL BINCHY, DAVID BYRNE, KATE COLLEARY, SHARON DALY, RICHARD DEVEREUX, PAUL EUSTACE, DAVID GEARY, APRIL GILROY, RICHARD HAMMOND, GERRY KELLY SC, MARTIN G. LAWLOR, CHARLES MEENAN SC, HUGH I. MOHAN SC, COLM MacEOCHAIDH, EOIN McCULLOUGH SC, UNA McGURK SC, PATRICK O'CONNOR, JIM O'CALLAGHAN, RODERIC O'GORMAN, FERGUS O'HAGAN SC, KEVIN O'HIGGINS, MICHAEL O'KENNEDY SC, DESMOND O'MALLEY, ISEULT O'MALLEY SC, Cllr OISIN QUINN, Senator EUGENE REGAN SC, RORY STAINES, ERCUS STEWART SC, DECLAN J. WALSH, TONY WILLIAMS,

Irish Alliance for Europe'.

I picked it up at the time here: http://www.politics.ie/lisbon-treaty/30608-lawyers-letter-blunder.html#post1056775

They never withdrew the false claim.
we have always ratified minor changes - Treaties of Accession - by Act of the Oireachtas, which is all that is constitutionally required - so they are right
 

He3

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we have always ratified minor changes - Treaties of Accession - by Act of the Oireachtas, which is all that is constitutionally required - so they are right
Indeed we have, which is further evidence of how stupid they were to make the claim. Now try reading what they claimed again:

"any future changes to the EU Treaties will continue to have to be ratified in accordance with the constitutional requirements of each member-state, which in Ireland's case is by referendum"
 
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