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EU's Treaty of Lisbon Usurps Democracy

Even though European voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed EU Constitution two years ago, it simply doesn't seem to matter. The Washington Post reports that E.U. leaders have endorsed a new Charter, one that bypasses referendum and institutes the changes rejected by the people essentially through governmental fiat.

European leaders on Thursday signed a new treaty intended to revitalize efforts to build a more united and powerful European Union, replacing a proposed constitution rejected by many voters two years ago with a document that in most member countries will never go before the public.

The 175-page Treaty of Lisbon incorporates most of the proposed changes and language of the failed constitution, but does so through a series of amendments to existing laws and treaties that can be approved by governments and legislatures without being put to voters. Only one of the 27 member countries, Ireland, plans to hold a referendum on the treaty.

The document calls for creating a permanent post of president, which an individual would hold for 2 1/2 years, and junking the current six-month presidency that rotates among member governments. It removes references to a European flag, anthem and other symbols that many people found an affront to national identity.

We at ThreatsWatch stress often the importance of establishing liberty before democracy in developing free states. Yet through the governmental ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the state governments within the European Union are demonstrating that, when it comes to the power of government and the ambitions of those entrusted with its responsible application, there are apparently times when neither liberty nor democracy must be permitted to stand in the way.

"It's a willful attempt to mislead the public," said Neil O'Brien, director of Open Europe, a London-based group that is fighting for greater openness, flexibility and accountability in European institutions.

He cited a poll the group commissioned in March showing that 75 percent of people surveyed across Europe, including a majority in all 27 E.U. countries, wanted a referendum on any new treaty that gives more power to the E.U.

An analysis of the treaty by Open Europe found that "96 percent of it is a word-for-word carbon copy" of the rejected constitution. "This is a deeply dishonest process," the group alleged.

And unless the analysis of the treaty is false and the 96% figure grossly inaccurate, there's little other conclusion to be drawn.

Open Europe's March 2007 poll demonstrates overwhelming opposition throughout Europe and is generally consistent with the official referendum vote results from two years ago.