European Council on Foreign Relations

Ireland Votes Yes to the Fiscal Stability Treaty

On 31 May 2012, the Irish people voted yes to the Fiscal Stability Treaty by a resounding margin of 60.3% to 39.7%. Voter turnout, at 50.6%, was on the low side, though higher than in some previous EU referendums. About 20% of the total eligible voters cast a no vote. A majority of voters in thirty-eight of the forty-three constituencies around the country opted to accept the Treaty.

Ireland becomes one of nine EU Member States, and one of four Eurozone countries, to ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The Treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by twelve Eurozone countries. The Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin is tracking the ratification process across the EU in a frequently updated map. Ireland was the only country to hold a referendum on the issue.

The Irish vote breaks

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Madrid view: Rescue of democracy

Since the crisis broke, we have been hearing about cutbacks and reforms every day. But there is a reform we need urgently, and it is not even on the agenda: the reform of our democratic system. True, the crisis is very largely due to the incompleteness and defects of the EU. But it also shows up the defects of our democracy: the weakness of the state, vulnerable to hijacking by sectorial interests — private, or grouped around political parties.

Disconcerted by the speed of events, we fail to see that the viability of our economic reforms requires not only better institutions of EU governance, but also an in-depth revision of the functioning of our own political system. We thought that Spain had been profoundly Europeanized; but we now see how much fiction there was surrounding this process.

Just as the northern EU countries are still light-years ahead of Spain in terms of their

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Making austerity less destructive: Don’t count on the German left

While everyone looks for signals from the French president François Hollande and from the German chancellor Angela Merkel about how a compromise on the fiscal compact might look like, another important negotiation on the future of Europe is largely ignored: The negotiation between Ms Merkel and the German opposition on the fiscal compact.

Little known outside Germany, Ms Merkel will need the votes of the German opposition to ratify the fiscal compact. As the provisions are “a substantial transfer of sovereignty” to the European level, according to the German constitution, Ms Merkel needs a two-third majority in both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat (the chamber which represents the Länder). This brings not only the Social Democrats into play, but also the Green party (which shares power in many Länder with the Social Democrats and is thus needed as Länder governments) the

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ECFR this week: 1st June

Our director, Mark Leonard, this week published the first of a regular series of pieces that he is contributing to the Reuters blog (the pieces will also be on ecfr.eu). ‘The dark flip-side of European technocracy’ laments the lack of genuine debate over Europe, particularly in Germany, and worries that this may open the door to populists.

“It would be a tragic paradox if the German establishment’s guilt over past extremism hampers its ability to overcome the populists of the future.”

Mark’s article talks about Thilo Sarrazin, a publicity hungry maverick who is making waves in Germany. He is also the subject of the latest blog post by Ulrike Guérot – ‘Sarrazin in America’.

Mark’s other piece on our website is ‘The central challenge to the Western liberal order’, where he argues that the largest global risk in the world at the moment is the threat to the European-inspired

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Madrid view: the Alabama syndrome

Have you ever heard an American suggest that the poor southern states ought to leave the Union because they are too heavy a burden? 

Alabama, for example, is home to 4.8 million inhabitants, about 1.5 percent of the US population (311 million). Its annual per capita income is around $34,000, not far above Mississippi at the bottom of the list. In the North is Massachusetts, second-richest state at $54,000 per capita, just behind Connecticut at the top. 

Now think of Greece: 11 million inhabitants, 2.5 percent of the EU population (501 million), or 3.3 percent of the euro-zone population (329 million). Greece and Germany are both poorer than the US states mentioned above, Greece having a per capita income of some $28,000 and Germany some $44,000, both less than Alabama and Massachusetts, respectively. So, in terms both of population size and income difference, the US and the euro

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