Video-Response to Patricia McKenna

Patricia McKenna bei einer Tagung des irischen Forum on Europe

Video-Response of Karl Staudinger

Hi Patricia,

i have been following your debate about the Lisbon Treaty on the internet and as an Austrian I envy you the intensive exchange of information and opinions concerning the European Union even though I regret deeply the outcome of the referendum of June 12th.

Two points are being mixed up in this debate: The first point is the performance of our governments and the European institutions. Are they aware of the needs of ordinary people? Do they have the right judgement of the problems of our societies? Do they find good solutions for our future and - last not least - are they determined to decide for the common good when facing pressure from big companies?

There are always lots of reasons to be unhappy with politicians, also of course with Nicolas Sarkozy, who just visited your country. In my opinion he lacks any sense of responsibility in promoting the construction of more nuclear power plants just to leave more nuclear waste to coming genereations instead of implying an intelligent use of energy.

But the Lisbon treaty concerns another point, it is about wether we have a viable framework for discussion and decision-making on the European level. Wether I agree or disagree to the specific policies of the EU - and I disagree in many ways - this framework is indispensable, because politics on a national level is widely ineffective in the age of globalization.

To use a picture of the ancient greek: The treaty is like a flute and it is up to politics to use it. Obviously it is quite different music that can be played on the same flute. In organizing your NO-campaign you have shown quite a big capacity to influence public opinion and to get your message heard. I am with you, when you criticize the Lisbon treaty for reaffirming the EURATOM treaty, but wouldn't it be an interesting strategy as well to fight the European nuclear lobby with a European initiative as implemented in the Lisbon treaty? You sure could count on a lot of supporters in Austria.

According to the European treaties the Commission will be smaller in the future and there will be periods for each member state, in which it will not have a commissioner. I am convinced that Austrian interests could be enforced by an Irish commissioner as well. It depends on the person, not the nationality.

To return to that picture of the ancient greek: Let's not get stuck in endless debates about how the flute should be built. Let's just play it the best we can. The provisions for civil actors to engage in EU politics are better with the Lisbon treaty than without it.

I wish you the best for your debates with Mr. Sarkozy and the leading European politicians and hope for a stronger role of the role of citizens actions in the European Union!

Karl Staudinger