‘YES’ or ‘NO’?
If you’re the sort of person who knows the inner workings of the European Stability Treaty then you won’t need to ponder that one.
But if you’re haven’t decided, don’t know, or just can’t get interested then prepare to be bombarded with various pro and anti messages in the coming weeks.
The arguments can be boiled down to a number of essential points on either side.
Reasons to Vote Yes:
– We need the money. Badly. Pulling out of Europe’s bailout fund means we won’t get it. As a spokesman for Angela Merkel’s party coldly put it yesterday: “Whoever doesn’t accept the treaty has no protection from the bailout fund. If the Irish people think they don’t need any protection they can, of course, reject the fiscal treaty.”
– Without the bailout cash it will be impossible to pay public sector wages, paychecks to gardai, nurses, teachers. You can kiss goodbye to public services. Likewise there’ll be little cash to fund pensions.
– Voting ‘yes’ is vital for our international reputation – or what remains of it. After acquiring a reputation for reckless borrowing to fund wild flights of property speculation Ireland has clawed back some kudos by embracing austerity. Albeit at the barrel of the Troika’s gun. Rejecting the Treaty and closing off bailout funds would likely lead to debt default. This in turn would make borrowing from the markets well night impossible, in the short term at least.
– The promise of a cheaper bailout. It’s already speculated that €3.1bn being handed over next month to cover Anglo’s debts could be cut. The move would raise the prospects of further cuts to the Anglo bailout burden, which totals (a staggering) €31bn.
– The future. Another argument offered by the Merkel’s colleagues yesterday, and echoed by Enda Kenny. They argue that a stable EU is vital for ensuring the financial wellbeing of future generations.
Reasons to Vote No:
– We’re an independent Republic. A ‘yes’ vote would give the imprimatur to the EU’s bigwigs, France and Germany, having a say in our economic policy. Opponents will call for a ‘no’ vote to protect our sovereignty. Cynics may argue that – since the arrival of the Troika- this is non-existent anyway.
– Expect more charges in the name of ‘austerity’. Since the EU-IMF-ECB Troika first arrived here we’ve had a household charge, a VAT increase, cuts to child benefit and rent payments, a reduction in the fuel allowance and back to school scheme, among others. The EU believes austerity is the way forward, so more of the same can be expected.
– Because we should burn the bondholders. Rejecting the treaty would give two fingers to the ECB, which is adamant that no such burning should take place. The cash shortfall of rejecting the treaty could be offset by, for example, not paying Anglo bondholders.
– To put a halt to the EU’s gallop. Eurosceptics, whose numbers are growing here, argue that this treaty is the latest is an encroaching series of treaties which see faceless EU bureaucrats increasingly controlling our lives. Rejecting the treaty would send out a defiant message, they argue.
– We’re becoming closer to Boston and Beijing than Brussels. Major job announcements by the likes of Paypal, coupled with the recent visit of Chinese vice president Xi Jinping, mean we’ve more in common economically with the US and China than the EU. If – and it’s a big if – we become Europe’s Hong Kong, that is.
This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, February 29, 2012.