For an EU Treaty referendum - Michael Briguglio

The Malta Independent 27 December 2007
With reference to Alternattiva Demokratika’s press release (More positives than negatives in EU Lisbon Treaty, TMID, 18 December), Zminijietna – Voice of the Left says it welcomes AD’s position for a referendum on the issue, even though Zminijietna believes in individual referenda in each EU member-state, rather than a EU-wide referendum, as proposed by AD.

On the other hand, the silence of the Nationalist Party and the Malta Labour Party on the need for a referendum on the EU Treaty is shameful. The same can be said with regard to various self-appointed defenders of democracy who spoke so much on the need for a referendum before Malta joined the EU. Where are they now?

The lack of a referendum on the EU treaty shows a profound disrespect for democracy and for the sovereign will, expressed by the French and Dutch peoples, in the 2005 referenda. The right of each people to have their say on a treaty which has such profound consequences for the present and the future of each country and of Europe must be guaranteed through a broad and democratic debate and through the expression of the popular will.

Zminijietna – Voice of the Left has been campaigning for the need of a referendum on the EU Treaty. Irrespective of one’s position on the treaty, the treaty requires democratic approval if it is to be politically legitimate.

As regards the content of the treaty, AD is putting too much emphasis on legalistic changes. When saying that within the treaty there are ‘more positives than negatives’, AD is missing the fact that, if approved, the treaty shall institutionalise neo-liberalism in various areas. This will further jeopardise economic and social gains of the workers and the peoples, whether through the liberalisation of markets, the primacy of competition or the monetarist policies that do not take into account growth and employment; or by dismantling and privatising public services.

The treaty also demands the “progressive suppression of all restrictions on international trade and foreign direct investment”. It reaffirms that the unaccountable European Central Bank has the sole duty of combating inflation – thus absolving the bank of the responsibility to maintain full employment. Besides, the reform treaty gives the unelected European Commission the power to force through the privatisation of public services

Alongside various leftist political parties and NGOs across Europe, Zminijietna – Voice of the Left has confidence in the possibility of a different Europe – a Social Europe of cooperation, social, economic and environmental progress and peace.

There still is time for a referendum on the EU Treaty. In fact, the deadline for ratification by all 27 member states is 31 December 2008. Let’s not miss this historic opportunity!