Friday, June 27, 2008

Austrian PM Promises EU Referendum

There's an interesting development this morning on the future of the Lisbon Treaty. The Austrian Prime Minister Alfred Gusenbauer has written a letter to an Austrian newspaper, Die Presse, guaranteeing a referendum on any future EU Treaty. They say the Irish decision must be respected. The full letter (auf Deutsch) is HERE. This is the key part...

Auf der Basis einer kontinuierlichen Information und einer offenen Diskussion sind wir der Meinung, dass zukünftige Vertragsänderungen, die die österreichischen Interessen berühren, durch eine Volksabstimmung in Österreich entschieden werden sollen.

Sollte also ein geänderter Reformvertrag neuerlich von Österreich ratifiziert werden müssen, so wollen wir den Koalitionspartner von dieser Vorgangsweise überzeugen. Dies gilt auch für einen möglichen Beitritt der Türkei, der unserer Ansicht nach die derzeitigen Strukturen der EU überfordern würde. Wir wollen an einem Europa arbeiten, das sich an den Bedürfnissen und Wünschen der Menschen auf diesem Kontinent orientiert, und damit das Vertrauen in dieses große Einigungswerk wiederherstellen.

Effectively they are ditching their previous Pro EU line and rowing back as fast as they can. They even say there will be a referendum on the accession of Turkey, which they are against. But most importantly, they say that if there is to be a new, changed version of the Lisbon Treaty, that too will be subject to a referendum.

I wonder if Herr Gusenbauer's Socialist counterpart in Britain might consider offering the British people the same thing? Is that a pig I see on the horizon?

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

what's it got to do with kevin rudd?

BOF2BS said...

"On the basis of continuous information and an open discussion are we the opinion that future contract modifications, which affect the Austrian interests are to be decided by a popular vote in Austria. Thus if a changed reform contract should have to be ratified recently of Austria, then we want to convince the coalition partner of this procedure way. This is valid also for a possible entry of the Turkey, which would make excessive demands of in our opinion the present structures of the European Union. We want to work on Europe, which orients itself at the needs and desires of humans on this continent, and thus the confidence into this large agreement work to re-establish."

Courtesy of: http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt

viennese whirl said...

Vorsprung durch Volksabstimmung

(mind you the 1930s plebiscites were a bit iffy, as I recall....)

strapworld said...

Iain,

In desperate times people do desperate things. Do not rule it out. BROWN is desperate.

tapestry said...

any future EU Treaty....

That means no referendum will be offered on the current Lisbon Treaty.

If the Irish vote YES in a second referendum, and if all other countries ratify including the Czech Republic, there won't be any more Treaties as the EU will be able to rule by QMV.

This could be another poltician trying to sound eurosceptic when he is in fact caving in.

But the number of dissenting voices is growing. It all helps.

Blue Eyes said...

It's a sign of how detached from reality the EU has become that "allowing" the voters to give their verdict on major integrating treaties is now seen as radical.

Well done the Austrians. I dream of the day when the Britons are allowed some kind of say over their destiny.

Head of Legal said...

Gusenbauer is now desperate, I think, Iain: although he only recently led them back into power, already lots of socialists see him (Gordon Brown-like...) as a drag on their chances of winning next time, and he's been forced to accept giving up the post of party leader. I think this is why he's struck out with this idea, that i think will be very popular.

Austria's one of those countries that extreme British Europhiles like to image is uniformly content with everything that comes from Brussels, but that's far from the truth. EU entry was itself fairly controversial, many people resented the coming of the Euro (you should have heard them complain about price rises) without having a say, and when I was there in 2005 many people were pleased that the French had voted down the Constitution, feeling like we do now that they, too, should have been consulted.

Anonymous said...

All they are saying is that if there is another EU treaty under which Turkey would join, then Austria would hold a referendum on it. This would effectively block Turkish membership because the Austrian voters are strongly anti-Turk. I don't think the Austrians are proposing to save us from Lisbon.

Mark Wadsworth said...

What Tapestry says.

As a keen amateur historian, I find it fascinating to watch Empires implode.

This, AFAIAC, is The Beginning Of The End for the EUmpire.

Newmania said...

any future EU Treaty....

That means no referendum will be offered on the current Lisbon Treaty.


Tapestry - You can read it two ways. Either the Austrians are undergoing a bout of scepticism or they are saying to everyone else that the Irish will have to vote again and put up with the present treaty ;or shut up. If the Celtic kitten gets a better deal still the Austrians are threatening to bring the whole thing down. This move ties the EU in to the current deal for which there is no referendum, with no amendments for the Irish. This in other words is a way of bullying the Irish into doing as they are told by threatening the EU with consultation for its own people.

The dark irony is impenetrably deep and reminds me of the loathsome mendacity of the Lib Dems with their similiar attempt to inlvolve any referndum with the threat of expulsion

PS Herr Dale , I do not read German.

Alan Douglas said...

He is offering referenda on FUTURE modifications - as I understand Lisbon, there will never be any future referenda as it has automatic further change already built in to it.

Sounds like more socialist spin to me.

As to the remark by viennese whirl, the iffiness of the vote for "Anschluss" to Germany was allegedly a secret ballot, but when my Jewish relatives went in to vote, they bottled it in the face of "no need to go to the voting booth, you can do it on our table"
by the Nazi officials. Hence the overwhelming "demand" for Anschluss, which is now routinely held up as an example of how "nazi" the Austrians were/are.

Alan Douglas

tapestry said...

Article in Times by Bronwen Maddox saying that EU Russia summit will do more to expose differences between EU member states than clarify EU's relationship with Russia.

The EU is fracturing - countries that don't want the Euro to continue, like Germany - countries that don't agree with Kosovan independence, like Spain - countries that don't support the Lisbon Treaty, like Ireland and Czech Republic - and so on.

It will soon be time to admit that the whole EU parade is over. The one sure way that you know it's over is that Gordon Brown is a 100% supporter of it.

The other way you know it is, is seeing the number of ways that europhiles are talking of proceeding after the Irish referendum. It's simply chaos.

And now the Austrians.

Are the nations finally reasserting themselves? Let's hope.

nick said...

Shame he didn't say that before they ratified it (I assume they have).

Vienna Woods said...

I do believe that the message is slowly sinking in with Socialist governments that they are in extreme danger of an electoral revolt. Britain is just one of a list of socialist led states were the people are hostile to any further erosion of their national identity and interference by an EU that is so totally out of touch with reality. In just a few short years it has caused so much damage to our way of life, that it is practically irrecoverable. It is certainly extremely hard to think of a single benefit that the EU has brought to the Common Market origins.

The Schengen Accord and free travel, introduced at the height of terrorist upsurge was idiotic. Then the expanded membership eastwards before living standards were safe enough to block mass immigration was a massively ill conceived catastrophe which has caused more damage than I care to think of. Despite all the manipulation of statistics by socialist politicians, they cannot escape from the reality. The export of our jobs to cheaper climes is not going to recover and with a world recession forecast, with a shift of wealth to the Far East, Western Europe is about to become the poor neighbor as the social pot empties into the pockets of immigrants rather than our own people.

When I first moved to Austria (before Austria’s EU membership), my employer had to justify my employment by proving that they had made a proper search for an equally qualified Austrian, before taking me on. I happen to agree with that stance and the majority of Austrians want to see this status returned. They are also very hostile to Turkish membership of the EU as they have enough of them here already and they are not liked for reasons I’m not going into here (and it’s nothing to do with colour or religion). The simple fact is that with unemployment projected to rise, people want to preserve what jobs there are and stop companies employing foreigners simply because they are cheaper.
This is the reality! This is what people see and hear. Socialist Multi-Culti experiments have backfired and ramming the EU down the throats of the populace and ignoring the democratic plea, is about as ignorant as they can be.

The EU as it stands is completely unfit for purpose and needs cleaning out, or disbanded.

Ilja Nieuwland said...

He is referring to 'zukünftige Vertragsänderungen', i.e. 'future changes in the treatie(s)'. Since the currently active treaty is to be changed by the Lisbon treaty, he is in fact referring to the current treaty.

There are two important caveats here: the new contract should 'affect Austrian interests'. It could be argued that each change in the EU treaty does to, but the opposite also holds true. But most importantly, Gusenbauer makes the referendum dependent upon his 'trying to persuade' his coalition partner. That could go either way, too.

However, the fact that he writes this in a national newspaper seems to indicat he means business.

neil craig said...

"I wonder if Herr Gusenbauer's Socialist counterpart in Britain might consider offering the British people the same thing?"

He & the LibDims already did. It is just that they lied.

Newmania said...

VIENNA WOODS- What do you think of my suggestion that this is way of ruling out concessions to the Irish and tying the EU into the existing deal?

Or is it really a sudden bout of scpticism and if so why should that be ?

Anonymous said...

This a bit of a puzzle (a pleasing puzzle I must say being an EU sceptic) because Austria now has more influence over the old Austro-Hungarian empire than it has had since 1919...

As others have said here, one of the sneaky terms of the Lisbon Treaty is there need not be any further treaties that would need ratifying - so it appears to be a non-offer by the Austrian PM.

At least Gordon and Clegg got their come-uppance in the Henley bye-election.

ukipwebmaster said...

Aaah...but will Dave give us a referendum as well?

Chris Paul said...

So, they've ratified Lisbon? And this is for the time being a hypothetical? And just for the record when is the next General Election in Austria? And is a "promise", or more accurately a "position", in a letter to the press actually binding?

Cinnamon said...

...and you believe them when they say they will hold the referendum?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....

They will do no such thing, just like Labour promised a referendum in the UK and cannot be held to their word.

Yak40 said...

any future EU Treaty

alan douglas is correct, one of the important but rarely mentioned facets of Lisbon is that it's self-amending i.e. there is no necessity for any furher voting on future treaties, it's carte blanche.

So methinks the Austrian PM is blowing smoke.

Ian Thorpe said...

Halting the Turkish advance at the gates of Vienna all over again then?

How does that thing about history repeating itself go?

Anonymous said...

Iain - since the Lisbon Treaty is now effectively dead, it wouldn't surprise me if Brown offers a referendum to the British people, since the result no longer matters. This is exactly how his mind works.

neil craig said...

Very nice Ian

tapestry said...

Mardell considers what Cameron might or might not do re Europe once in power in his BBC Clog.

I added my thoughts to his on the matter this morning - LINK.

schnitzel said...

This is good stuff, if a little late in the day. What it might fdo is add to the general feeling of dissent, and bring more closet dissenter nations out into the open. This one will run and run I feel.

Vienna Woods said...

Newmania,

Obviously, nobody knows what resides in the space between a socialists ears, but there is political turmoil here currently because Gussie has become very unpopular, mainly because he, like Brown, is a ditherer! What is different for Gussie, is that his party (SPÖ) has turned on him and removed him as head of the party machine, but left him as prime minister for the time being. He now has to claw back to power and this is a very popular way to do it, if dishonest!

The problem is that Austria "enjoys" (pun) proportional representation which nearly always results in a hung parliament. Like Brown, Gussie has reigned for just one year on the good will of the ÖVP (Conservatives) and the ÖVP has just a few seats less than the SPÖ in parliament and shares government with important seats in the cabinet.

The ÖVP are threatening to break the coalition and side once again with the extreme right wing FPÖ which would give them a slender majority. If they do that then the EU will probably get on its high horse again and suspend Austria's EU membership. The FPÖ have already stated they will withdraw Austria from the EU as a condition of their coalition.

So, I think that Gussie is deadly serious about the EU Treaty, as he could force an election midterm and offer the people a chance for a referendum and take a chance on retaining power.

Sorry I couldn't explain that in a briefer form.

Newmania said...

Sorry I couldn't explain that in a briefer form


Pleasure to read VW and I see this is local matter not connected with an over-arching EU purpose.Rats , thought I was onto something there..

Auntie Flo' said...

Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has said that his government wants a referendum if the EU's Lisbon Treaty is modified in any way.

He said that any future changes to the treaty that affect Austrian interests must be decided in Austria by a referendum...

Austria's parliament has already ratified the treaty, designed to streamline EU decision-making following enlargement of the bloc to 27 members.

The Social Democrats' European deputy, Hannes Swoboda, said earlier today that his party would have no problem if the treaty went ahead in its current form, despite the Irish No vote.

But he told Austrian news agency APA that any modification would have to be put to a referendum in Austria.

RTE News

http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0626/eulisbon.html

some english bloke said...

The treaty will act just like hitlers enabling law 1933 which allowed him to turn his minority administration into a lawful dictatorship.
Brown has played the part of President Paul von Hindenburg in knowingly signing away our sovereignty.

Hopefully we can leave the barricades and petrol bombs to our European friends as they are more experienced with them.

Johnny Norfolk said...

There is no way Brown will give us a referendum. What we need is a general election. The Labour party are in a world of their own. They have not yet introduced any cut backs with all the problems we have. Just what world do they live in.

Anonymous said...

Vienna Woods said...

"If [the ÖVP break the coalition and side once again with the extreme right wing FPÖ] then the EU will probably get on its high horse again and suspend Austria's EU membership."

Lucky Austria. What would it take for the EU to suspend the UK?

Roger Helmer said...

I'm confused. He's offering a referendum on any revised Lisbon Treaty -- but not on the existing one? Why not start with the one he's got?