Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The EU Lays Down the Law

The recent referendum in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty was a setback for those who would turn the EU into a single superstate. But it’s not a major setback — the functionaries of the EU are adept at sidestepping such petty annoyances as the will of their peoples — and we can expect the EU’s leaders to regroup and try a different tack.

The next difficulty facing the Lisbon Treaty is the attempt to enforce the “harmonization” of laws on the member states. Some countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, will have no problem swallowing the entire EU pig, since their existing laws are already in synch with the draconian requirements of the Lisbon Treaty.

However, countries that have held on to some vestige of independence, common sense, and sovereignty may not agree so readily to surrender their own laws. One of the areas of strongest disagreement concerns immigration, and Denmark has the most restrictive immigration laws in Europe, putting it at odds with the mandarins of the EU.

A recent EU court decision concerning Ireland is raising hackles in Denmark. According to the EU Observer:

Danish immigration law under fire after EU court ruling

A recent EU court immigration ruling is causing headaches for the Danish centre-right government and may deliver a blow to the country’s immigration policies, which are amongst the most restrictive in Europe.

What’s instructive here is the assumption that Denmark will automatically cave, and allow the EU rulings to supersede Danish law. But how likely is that? Yes, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is aiming for a comfortable EU sinecure, will likely kowtow to Brussels. But what about the rest of the Danes?

The article continues:
- - - - - - - - -
The European Union’s highest court ruled last Friday (25 July) in a case of four couples living in Ireland that spouses of EU citizens who are not themselves EU citizens can not be prevented from living in the Republic.

Previously, under Irish law, a spouse from outside the European Union must have lived in another member state first in order to win residency rights. However the court ruled that this is in breach of EU law on the free movement of citizens.

Inspired by the new EU ruling, a number of couples turned up on Monday (28 July) at the Danish Ministry for Integration in Copenhagen demanding a review of the ministry’s rejection of their applications to settle as couples in Denmark.

This is like the gay marriage issue in the United States — the most permissive and activist judges in one state decree the laws, and activists in other states immediately demand that the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution be applied, so that the laws must be honored in their own jurisdictions. That’s one of the primary disadvantages of centralization — the rules established by unaccountable bureaucrats at the center ride roughshod over the will of the people in the localities.

Notice the amusing twist in the next excerpt:

Having been denied residence in Denmark, many such couples settle in the city of Malmo in Sweden, about half an hour’s drive from Copenhagen, as Sweden has less restrictive immigration laws.

That’s an understatement; Sweden has almost no immigration restrictions, and a generous welfare package awaits the new arrivals in Malmö. No wonder “persons of Swedish background” are rapidly becoming a minority in the city.

There are indications that the Danes are not yet ready to roll over for the EU as far as immigration is concerned:

In reaction, the Danish minister in charge of immigration, Birthe Ronn Hornbech, has now announced a review of the entire system of immigration in the country.

Morten Messerschmidt“The government must tell the EU system that it was a prerequisite for Danish EU membership to be able to run our immigration policies independently,” said the spokesperson on EU affairs of the right-wing Danish Peoples Party, Morten Messerschmidt, on Danish Radio.

The Liberal-Conservative minority government depends on the support of his party.

Yes, the Danish People’s Party is what stands in the way of complete European integration. Notice that the DPP is only “right-wing” here; apparently they have graduated from being “right-wing extremists” and are inching towards respectability.

Mr Messerschmidt suggested immigration should be covered by a Danish general exemption from EU justice policies, while legal experts have stated that the fundamental principle of free movement of citizens in the EU would supercede this.

So this is a contest of wills, between tiny but pugnacious Denmark on the one hand, and Megatron himself on the other. Who will win?

One suspects that Danish public opinion sides with Mr. Messerschmidt and the DPP:

Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published a comment on Tuesday (29 July) arguing that the EU court is doing the job of elected politicians.

“This practice is a democratic problem”, wrote Ralf Pittelkow, adviser to former Social Democratic Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

“The judges are crafting a lot of policies because the politicians allow them the margin to do so. Political decisions that ought to be the responsibility of elected representatives are left with the court”.

Denmark, as usual, is the place to watch. The Danes are the wellspring of Western resistance.


Hat tip: Henrik.

12 comments:

xlbrl said...

Arnold Toynbee--
Civilizations in decline are constantly characterized by a tendency toward standardization and uniformity. The last stage but one is characterized by the forced political unification of its constituent parts, into a single greater whole.
The last stage is suicide, not murder.

kepiblanc said...

This issue must be considered in two parts:

1. The Immigration Service undoubtedly withheld information about the EU legislation. Whether they did so deliberately or out of ignorance remans a matter of dispute. As usual in such minor quarrels, opinions between the Left and the Right diverge.

2. That aside, tonight the nation seems united. Apart from one political party - "The Radical Left" (no influence whatsoever, on the verge of dropping out of parliament) - all parties stand united against the EU Court. Even the "Unity List" (doped communists) will not allow the EU to overrule our parliament. The minister of Immigration intends to fight the EU Court in the council of ministers. An influential professor of jurisprudence advises Denmark to pay an eventual fine and then carry on ignoring the EU. The whole EU rigmarole is in serious trouble in Denmark.

This affair is a potential "turning point". The scheduled referendums about the Danish EU opt-outs might very well be cancelled since very, very few Danes would vote in favor of the EU in the present situation and PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen would face a devastating defeat. Who knows?: if the EU doesn't back off it could "make our day" and we could leave the EU in its own quagmire.

Exile said...

I agree with Kepiblanc here. I've got my eye on this one too..
My Danish wife is spitting feathers.

But isn't it a little late for the Danish parliament to be screaming about sovereignty after having already ratified the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum? Surely they were aware of the issues?

The issue with the Irish judgemnet looks like payback, a slap in the face for the Irish lawmakers, but the slap was extended, perhaps unintentionally, to Denmark.

The EU may just have opened pandora's box. And we all know what the last thing left in the bottom of that little treasure chest was....

Conservative Swede said...

Whenever I here the name Messerschmidt, I think of this silly joke:

- You are always such an annoying messerschmidt.
- You mean besserwisser?
- Yeah, there you go again.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Today's newspapers mostly support the "Up yours, ECJ!" position, including the JP editorial and several readers' letters.

Hardcore socialists (SF) and some legal experts dissent, stating that resisting the ECJ has never led to anything but defeat, and thus opine that resistance is futile and assimilation has been completed.

But the ones with real influence, like Ralf Pittelkow, are making it very clear that this time we need to stick to our guns.

Shlomo said...

An article and discussion of the ECJ case can be found here:

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2008/07/taking-us-for-mugs.html

The photo encapsulates everything that is wrong with EU immigration.

res ipsa loquitur

Proud Infidel said...

Exile said:

"But isn't it a little late for the Danish parliament to be screaming about sovereignty after having already ratified the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum? Surely they were aware of the issues?"

That was exactly what I was thinking. Didn't they read the fine print? Or did someone change the fine print?

I find myself thinking, and I'm hoping someone with more knowledge of European affairs can answer, can countries that ratified the Lisbon Treaty reverse their approval? If the Danes are having such second thoughts, can they do referendum or something to get out of the Lisbon Treaty? Or is this irreversible? What is the likelyhood of a "let's dump the Lisbon Treaty" movement rising in Denmark or other EU countries having second thoughts? Questions, questions, questions...

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I suppose it depends how you look at it. The Lisbon Treaty is a treaty between sovereign nations, in essence, and one of a series of similar treaties. Whether it can be repeaed and ignored depends on whether you believe that the national government has the superior sovereignty. I'm not sure, but I suspect the danish constitution would include a clause outlying the supremacy of the Danish parliament over such things, meaning in essence that a treaty can only be held as binding as long as the parliament agrees that it is.

The parliamentary bill of rights has a specific clause in it making the king and parliament sovereign, and any "government over the sea" by definition subservient to the Crown when dealing with english law. Consequently any treaties signed by parliament or the crown are subject to the continued pleasure of the crown (I love that way of saying it, "at her majesty's pleasure", it's just so.... I get all shivery for some reason). If you happen to believe that the nation has a right to determine it's own path (that is, if you're a nationalist) then by definition any treaty is subject to that same pleasure.

So in that sense they can just walk away from it.,

Now what comes into play with that is that the treaties include various clauses as punishments for leaving. They are essentially contracts between governments, at the end of the day, and any good contract will have a severance clause. All the previous treaties were laid out like that, though their efficacy was never tested - no country has left the EU yet. The difficulty comes in that Lisbon is the first of the EU treaties to specifically lay out a mechanism for seceeding. What that claims for the EU, then, is sovereignty for teh first time over a nation's right to break a treaty. It reverses the previous relationship, where the EU existed at the behest of its participants, creating a situation where those participants are now obligated to follow a specific procedure if they want to continue to exist - a procedure that can simply be blocked by the EU. In other words their continued membership is assumed to be in the hands of the EU, whereas before it was in the hands of the member nations. In theory that means the EU could prevent a member nation from leaving once it's signed up to Lisbon.

Still, depending on your point of view, that isn't actually a problem. If you assume that the nation has that right to determine it's own path it can simply walk away from the treaties and repeal the acts that set them into law. The punishments could simply be ignored. Inpractice the EU is still powerless to actually prevent a nation from leaving. Its power comes from the member states, and it's they who will decide whether to enforce any legal measures against a recalcitrant member.

The final problem at that point is what to do with all the law that has been enacted based on EU directives, which runs to thousands and thousands of pages, and possibly several thousand pieces of legislation. You can't just repeal the lot and start over. That alone would discourage most countries from leaving...

What I'm trying to say is, none of it is insurmountable, but it's only likely if the will is there. The EU is one heck of a honey trap when all is said and done. Once you're in, you have to really be determined if you want to get out again.

It'd be easy for sea-trading nations to leave than land-locked ones. The main obstacle would be a cessation of trade with the EU bloc but, at the same time, the international market would be more more accessible.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

addendum: it's actually likely that the parliament didn't read the treaty anyway. Milliband, the guy who signed it on behalf of the UK, has admitted he doesn't know what's in it, as have a number of other members and prominent figures. They probably don't know what they signed at all.

Henrik R Clausen said...

First off, let me say this:

It is difficult to convey outside Denmark just how big a thing this has become. It's all over the newspapers, and I'm seeing defiance of the EU like never before. Looks like ECJ crossed a line they shouldn't have touched. Morten Messerschmidt is proven right in warning repeatedly against the ECJ, and people have listened.

The last thing the Empire needs at this point in time is another rebellion, as they're busy stomping on the Irish one already. But it looks like one, for sure. The public image of EU is taking serious damage over this.

I suspect the Danish constitution would include a clause outlying the supremacy of the Danish parliament over such things, meaning in essence that a treaty can only be held as binding as long as the parliament agrees that it is.

We have such clause, it's §20. The well-paid civil servants, however, have given a document that says that §20 does not apply, as no sovereignty is handed over by the Lisbon Treaty.

We know they're lying, we have the documentation (like at Bonde's web - English is available), but it is very difficult to change their minds, as it would be extremely embarrassing for them to be proven wrong.

Didn't they read the fine print?

For Lisbon, the answer is 'No'. Why should they? Each MP is being told by the party leadership what to vote anyway. And said leadership does not read treaties either. The EU system pressed them to sign it before a readable version even existed (Dec. 13 2007), and the embarrassment that would ensure in case someone read it and protested would be unbearable.

Know what? It shouldn't matter. Here's from the Irish prime minister:

Mr Cowen’s argument was that it did not matter if people had not read (as he admitted himself) the treaty and did not understand it because they should trust their elected leaders.

Who in turn don't do their own homework, but just trusts EU civil servants? Swell...

A compounding problem is that of 'Party discipline'. That is, at least in Denmark, a constitutionally dubious practice, where MP's are coerced into voting against their honest opinion, facing treats of demotion, or even exclusion, from their political parties should they not toe the line. Thus, reading the Treaty text becomes an irrelevant waste of time.

Or did someone change the fine print?

For the Lisbon Treaty, sort of. They changed it to make it unreadable, so the press and the politicians wouldn't know what was in it before it could be approved. So they changed the wording, but not the meaning, of the rejected Constitution Treaty.

For the details of what we have problems with in Denmark, it might be that some fine print has been changed. Our disagreement comes from a directive approved in 2004, which was meant to be a 'consolidation' of various other directives, not really worth scrutiny. It turns out that was probably a mistake.

From Jyllands-Posten yesterday comes this hilarious cartoon:

http://jp.dk/meninger/tegning/article1399630.ece

The lady in the middle is Minister of Integration Birthe Rønn Hornbech, who's in a middle of all this mess. She's doing quite well, much better than I expected.

We're having heated debates on the blogs. Many are requesting that we leave EU. My personal opinion is that demanding deep reforms is better.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

You can talk about reform, but it's rather like the old saw or arranging deck-chairs on the titanic. The EU is fundamentally unreformable. Noramlly when I hear people talk about reforming the EU I get the impression that they want to try and "Return" it to a free trade area, which it never was to begin with. A free trade zone allows free trade, it doesn't require you to alter your laws to mirror those of your partners, just that you don't levy unnecessary import duties or use subsidies to keep foreign trade out. That's what the EEA was for. The EU was a customs union with the aim of making everywhere the same.

Unreformable.

I mean, talk about it, sure, and if you do succeed with reforming it, great! I just think it'd be smarter to dump the EU and join the EEA instead.

Zonka said...

Henrik wrote:
We're having heated debates on the blogs. Many are requesting that we leave EU. My personal opinion is that demanding deep reforms is better.

Leaving the EU would be the preferred choice, as the structure of EU is flawed and undemocratic at the core. But even if you want to “reform” the EU, then as a small country you need a big stick to make your point heard, and such a stick would be a credible threat of leaving the EU... Which would be something that the EU would take serious, as that would fuel the EU resistance in other countries, most importantly the UK...