Guest Student Editorial – David Rank (Lower 6th Form)

In an unexpected turn of events, Ireland has rejected the controversial Lisbon Treaty. Following a nationwide referendum, the Irish rejection has placed the future of the Treaty into disarray.

 

However, President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso has since declared the Treaty is ‘not dead’ despite the necessity for a unanimous vote in each of the twenty seven EU states. Barroso continued to state ‘we should not rush to conclusions’ causing many analysts to believe the choice of the Irish people could even be overridden by their political leaders. The Treaty was signed in December 2007 by the leaders of each state with the hope of it gradually coming into force from January 2009, however, the Irish rejection has placed its future into turmoil.

 

Under existing circumstances there are still options open for the Treaty but none of them can be implemented easily. Nine countries are yet to ratify the treaty causing many to believe by the time that process ends, a solution for the Irish “exception” mayt have been negotiated. For example, Ireland could be granted additional opt-outs and guarantees on sensitive issues such as abortion and national neutrality in order to ensure the Treaty has the backing of the Irish people.

 

Alternatively, The EU could scrap the Lisbon Treaty just as the proposals for the Constitution were repackaged following the Lisbon Treaty following French and Dutch ‘No’ votes in 2005. Key parts of Lisbon could be repackaged into a shorter, more comprehensible document to voters throughout Europe. Under this scenario, the ratification process starts again and Ireland holds another referendum. In 2001 Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty but then said ‘Yes’ to it just over a year later causing this process to appear a possibility. However, the process is already appearing indefinite while a further repackaging would just appear time consuming with no end in sight.

 

Perhaps most drastically a two tier system could be developed. Those nations keen on further EU integration could form an informal club within the EU creating dangerous internal tension. Both Ireland and the UK prefer a looser union which could threaten their position within the EU.

Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, reflected Barroso’s statement: “Once again in Europe, a treaty supported by the leaders of all member states has unable to secure popular support in a ballot. We must not rush to conclusions.” He went on to explain the Irish government seeks to explain to EU officials that this does not mean Ireland are now anti-EU, making negotiations and compromise appear likely,

Foreign secretary David Miliband declared Britain would not pressurize Ireland on their future actions. He continued to state: “It’s right that we follow the view that each country must see the ratification process to a conclusion”,

The referendum is undoubtedly a historical event in Irish and European politics, with the continental project reaching a stumbling block by a country with a population of only four million people. With a low turnout of 40 per cent (the minimum necessary to make the referendum valid) and a narrow vote of 53.4% to 46.6% against the Treaty, some analysts have come to question the structure of the EU with such a small percentage of the overall population impeding the development of the Union.

The future of EU development appears to continue to be a highly divisive issue. Since the nature of the EU causes the backing of each state to be essential, future European integration remains without resolution.

 

David Rank – Portland Place School

London Mayor’s Drinking Ban Comes Into Effect

What do you mean there\'s something on my shoe? One of Boris Johnson’s election promises was to ban the consumption of alcohol (and the carrying of open containers of alcohol) on London’s Tube and Bus network.  The ban came into effect at midnight last night.

Members of social networking sites including (but not limited to) Facebook have been linked to the organisation of Tube parties on the Central and Circle lines as a final ‘farewell’ to booze on the Tube, leading to some violence, line closures and 17 arrests.

I agree with the law.  Traveling on the transport network can be uncomfortable enough without having to sit across from somebody swaying with a can of cheap cider in their hand and waiting for them to vomit their kebab all over your ‘Sorry mate, can’t let you in with those on’ shoes.

Yes, this does punish those who consume alcohol sensibly on public transport which is unfortunate.  But, not unlike the new anti-smoking laws, it is something that is not difficult to adhere to.

There are, unfortunately, always people who will behave like idiots and there is no excuse for abusing Underground staff and police (yes, even bus drivers who see you at the door just as they’re closing and ignores your polite knocking) as happened last night.

The incidents from last night’s Tube party made the news as far away as Australia on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website (www.abc.net.au).

Is it Boris Johnson’s fault that people carried on like fools last night?  Not directly.  The penalties have not been actively promoted as part of the awareness campaign about the ban which surprises me.  The introduction of the law seems rushed and could perhaps have been better handled by the Mayor’s office.

Have a read of the article from this link and leave a comment about what YOU think of the ban (you may have to copy and paste the link into your browser):

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4043853.ece

I’m surprised that it has taken this long to ban alcohol consumption and open alcohol containers from some parts of the transport network.  I’m interested to know what you think.

Mr. Mithen

Early Results from Russian Election

putin-and-medvedev.jpgEarly results are coming in from the Russian Presidential election and it seems that Dmitry Medvedev is set to become the new Russian President after Vladimir Putin’s 8 year reign has ended due to a Constitutional stipulation that restricts a President from serving for longer than 2 terms in office.

Copy and paste this link into a web browser for more details: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/03/2177595.htm

Courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) website (www.abc.net.au/news).

Prince Harry on the Frontline in Afghanistan.

Prince HarryLate last week it was revealed that Prince Harry (second heir to the throne) had been on active service on the frontline in Afghanistan.  While the media in the UK agreed to a ‘blackout’ on the issue (agreed not to report it), an American website leaked the information online leading to the Prince’s withdrawal and hasty return back to the UK. He had been serving since December 2007.
Was it right for the website to break the news?  Should Prince Harry have been allowed to serve in Afghanistan, or did it create an unsafe environment for the troops he was fighting beside?  Post a reply with your thoughts!

Here’s a link to the BBC website if you’d like to find out more about this story (check out the links on the page as well):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7273129.stm

I look forward to hearing your views!

Editor.