Afri and the Lisbon Treaty

Justice and peace organization Action from Ireland (Afri) called for a NO vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Afri argues that the Treaty further militarises the EU and that it would have a negative impact on developing countries.

Afri has particularly highlighted the Treaty’s provisions for ‘permanent structured cooperation’ (PSC), which mean that sub-sets of EU countries can pursue their military agendas under the EU banner. Afri chairperson Andy Storey commented as follows on the PSC provisions: “Consider the case of Afghanistan, where a number of EU states currently operate under the NATO banner. If PSC had been available it is quite conceivable that it would have been invoked to establish a specifically EU presence in that country. And if that had occurred, then the German commander who recently called down an airstrike that slaughtered untold numbers of Afghan civilians would have been representing the EU. In other words, he would have been representing us. The prospect of an EU force representing all EU citizens, including Irish people, murdering civilians in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ is one that should worry us all.”

The Treaty, Afri points out, says that ‘a more assertive union EU military role … will contribute to the vitality of a renewed NATO.’ “This is the same NATO, a nuclear-armed military alliance, that is bombing civilians in Afghanistan: do we really want to contribute to its renewed vitality?” asked Mr Storey

Mr Storey also pointed out that, under Lisbon, the range of tasks that EU forces may perform is extended. EU forces, post-Lisbon, may be deployed on: ‘military advice and assistance tasks…, including… supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories’. But, according to Mr Storey, “claiming to be assisting a third country government to combat terrorism through the provision of military advice and assistance could realistically mean autocratic rulers being facilitated to suppress opposition; French troops, for example, have routinely performed this function for their client regimes in Chad, Rwanda and other African countries.” The Treaty encourages countries to spend more on the military – at a time when the global military budget in 2008 was already an obscene $1,400 billion.

In terms of developing countries, the Treaty commits the EU ‘to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investment, and the lowering of customs and other barriers’. Mr Storey noted that “these free market policies are what got large parts of the world into our present economic mess to begin with, and the EU is seeking to lock countries into these policies and deny them the right to pursue alternative policies.” Elsewhere, the Treaty says that ‘all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited’ so a poor country could not try to deal with a financial crisis by imposing capital controls (as Malaysia did successfully in the late 1990s) without facing EU sanction. “At a time when the damage done by the unregulated movement of capital is apparent to everyone, the EU wants to give that free movement the status of holy writ” Mr Storey argued.