09 Sep 09 Eddie's Blog Ireland

Why Lisbon works for Ireland

Isn’t it interesting that the “No” campaign for the Lisbon referendum is objecting to big and small business funding their contribution to the “Yes” debate. They got through the rant without explaining where COIR was getting the €800,000 they have already spent on posters, printing and the fiction writers who drafted their slogans.

It should surprise no one why every entrepreneur and business guy in Ireland backs EU and Lisbon aggressively.

Esat, Ryanair, Airtricity, Mainstream, and all the 56, mainly US multinationals, who made the Celtic Tiger, owe their existence here to the EU. They would not have been motivated or indeed able to locate their manufacturing, distribution, their headquarters, or branch networks here but for the EU. We had the 10% tax rate on manufactured goods here since 1958, yet it was only in 1989 that the big US IT companies started to invest here so that they would have free access to the EU market.

For us, the EU represents an opening up of business opportunity, having tariff free access to every member state. The EU has forced an increase in competition, and the reduction in the price of goods and services which followed this. However rose tinted the glasses of the anti EU brigade may be, they can never convince the people that the pre industrial state, which specialized in exporting it’s young is better than the Ireland of the here and now. Our wealth has trebled, our exports have gone up by 6000%, we have a modern infrastructure, and we belong to one of the world’s strongest currencies because of our membership of the EU.

The “No” brigade would put all this at risk, because they are a group without a vision. They have that in common with the former Taoiseach, who was proud of the fact that he was not a man of vision.

We on the “Yes” side are driven by a big vision for the future of Ireland. It is a vision that is a mere illusion without our membership of a Lisbon enhanced EU. So what is this vision?

A big part of my vision for the future is seeing the EU, and the Irish, take a part in bringing peace to all our member states, and to our neighbouring states. It was horrific to see what happened on our doorsteps in the breakup of Yugoslavia, where genocide was practiced, and which required President Clinton to initiate action. The EU stood by. It was paralysed into inactivity by not having a foreign policy coordinator, precisely what is now proposed in the Lisbon Treaty. Those who oppose Lisbon have short memories, or never studied history. For 10 centuries the Germans, British, Dutch, French, Spanish merrily slaughtered each other and would have continued at it but for the EU. The Irish suffered the same as everyone else. Thanks to the EU there is an end to strife in our eurozone and in the countries close by.

It is a vision where Ireland can make all of it’s electricity from renewable energy, and export as much again to a power hungry EU. The vested interests which would retard, if not stop this programme entirely, are legislated into compliance by the Lisbon enhanced EU. Lisbon specifically gives the EU power to regulate energy in the member states.

It is a vision where energy prices are stabilized by utilizing a free energy source(wind) so that Ireland wins in the battle for inward investment, versus other economies. No other economy in the EU has as much onshore renewable energy potential as Ireland.

It is a vision of enhanced freedom for the Irish. This enhanced freedom comes from pooling our sovereignty with the other states and with the institutions of the EU itself. 500,000,000 people can do things that 4,000,000 cannot. What is enhanced freedom? The freedom from being forced to emigrate and having good job prospects here; the freedom to enjoy what modern technology gives us; the freedom to travel with ever cheaper plane fares. Freedom from the fear of global warming in so far as the EU has already legislated to take a world lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This will be very real as many parts of Dublin and elsewhere will not be flooded by rising sea levels. This freedom refers to being able to own your house without fear of being driven out to higher ground.