Ronan McCrea: EU reforms call for new approach to referendums
This post was written by John McHale
Ronan McCrea has an op-ed in today’s Irish Times that is worth debating. His proposal:
If we are to avoid an endless series of referendums in the coming years, we will have to give the Government a degree of authority to agree to treaty changes that have not yet been agreed.
This would require a more general amendment to the Constitution, giving the State the right to participate in a fiscal and banking union. Such an approach would allow the State to sign up to the numerous amendments that are likely in the coming years if the euro is to be saved.
Given the seriousness of the implications of fiscal union for our political system, it would be desirable that there would be a further referendum at the end of the process. Once a fiscal and banking union is fully in place, then voters could decide by referendum whether they would like to be in or out of such an arrangement.
Often lost in the recent referendum debate was recognition that developing the necessary fiscal and banking integration to underpin the euro is a two-way process. The countries most likely to be net contributors under strengthened risk-sharing arrangements will be reluctant to agree to those arrangements without credible assurances of mutual discipline. Given the necessity of these arrangements, it is not enough to lambast Germany for not being willing to move fast enough. The extent of the political challenge means that there is responsibility on all countries to make the necessary changes feasible.