So Ireland voted no. May I make some humble suggestions to the great and good:
- Take it like a man. I’m talking to you, Barroso. I don’t know what you wanted to achieve by claiming the treaty was still alive, but all you did was prove the No campaign’s point for them.
- Don’t panic. There’s nothing in Lisbon that’s so urgent it can’t wait six or twelve months for the dust to settle. It’s not like you don’t have other things to be getting on with.
- Deal with specific problems. If there’s something in particular holding up Croatia’s membership, treat it as part of their accession deal. Don’t try to do too much at once (e.g. consolidate the treaties, write a constitution and increase the powers of the EU).
- Make the best of what you have. The Nice Treaty states that after the number of members exceeds 27, the size of the Commission will be reduced to less than 27. It could be argued that this is already sufficient legal basis for reform, so long as that reform is seen to be fair.
- Be generous. It’s already accepted practice for the Council to nominate the EP’s suggested name for Commission President. How about letting him suggest the names of the other Commissioners? And you could voluntarily let your national parliaments have their debates on proposed directives. It’s amazing how much you can get done with a gentleman’s agreement.
- Try to be popular. Aw, go on. You never know, the electorate might even grow to like you.
Nigel Farage of the UKIP was on Newsnight last night claiming, inconsistently, that a) if you don’t understand something, voting no is a good idea, but b) the result “obviously” means the Irish don’t want more political integration. It’s always hard having a debate with a Eurosceptic on such issues, as they have a habit of changing the subject to “get out” at the first opportunity. ;-)