Friday 23 March 2018

Daragh McDowell: Referendum will cost money and integrity

Pressing ahead with ratification only weakens our bargaining position in Europe, writes Daragh McDowell

The upcoming referendum on the European Fiscal Compact may go down as one of the most ironic, and pointless, democratic exercises in the history of the Republic.

As the polls indicate that Ireland will at last approve an EU treaty on the first go, Europe may collectively decide that rejection is the right answer this time around. Francois Hollande, who will almost certainly become president of France, has already vowed to "reopen" the treaty. This is a diplomatic way of saying "abandon".

There are other indicators that the writing is on the wall for the compact. The Dutch government collapsed last week when the far-right PVV under Geert Wilders refused to back austerity measures. The European Commission backed down earlier this month when Spain's new government simply refused to implement impossible deficit reduction targets. The new targets are equally impossible, and Spain's budget deficit will remain far outside the parameters set by the compact for the foreseeable future.

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