The Lisbon Treaty was rejected by the "newly confident" Irish. "No" voters predominated amongst the young - the most spoiled generation in our history. But then again, Ireland has an unhappy history of referendums... the right to divorce was voted down two-to-one in the grim 80s, for instance. The right of women to choose has also been denied when put to the vote.
Now, it looks like we might be back to the 80s - in economic terms at least - which will make the selling of any Lisbon Two even more difficult.
So how can the EU demonstrate the benefits of membership to Europe's newest sceptics? The simple answer is for it to enforce existing legislation that will directly benefit the Irish public. Gombeen Man has three examples.
1) The Irish Government must be made scrap Vehicle Registration Tax, which sees us paying up to 40% more for our cars as those in other EU states. Gombeen commissioner Charlie McCreevy steadfastly refuses to allow this, despite being in direct contravention of the Treaty of Rome. The EU should face him down now, and at the same time give a practical demonstration that tax harmonisation can be a good thing.
2) Irish people are currently barred from investing in the Prize Bond schemes of other EU countries. The Irish Government denies us the right to invest our savings in this way under gambling and lottery legislation - despite the fact that money invested in the British Premium Bonds, for instance, is a form of saving and is State-guaranteed.
3) Currently, large-scale supermarkets such as Carrefour are not allowed to set up in Ireland - due to lobbying from vested interests who don't want competition that will result in lower prices for the consumer. The EU should insist that this uncompetitive practice stops right now.
Brussels has allowed the Irish Government to wriggle out of its obligations to pass on the full benefits of EU membership to its citizens. This must stop, and the Irish Government must be made comply.
It also happens to be the best way to ensure a decisive "yes" vote in any future referendum.
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