June 13th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Ireland has just proved that, at this point, countries whose economies are doing well see no reason to pursue further EU integration. Its voters appear to have rejected the new EU constitution in a referendum on Thursday:

Having spent the last two years honing a treaty which was supposed to benefit 495 million Europeans, the burghers of Brussels looked on helplessly yesterday as it was torn to shreds by fewer than a million Irish voters.

Its spectacular failure yesterday, the “No” vote romping home with 53.4 per cent of the vote, was undoubtedly an indictment of the lacklustre “Yes” campaign, but it was also a sign of growing unease among normal working people about the creeping powers of a faceless body which is unchallenged by the political elite.

Ireland is one of the few countries where opposition to the EU is strong that is actually holding a referendum – in the UK, where opposition is arguably even stronger, the government reneged on its manifesto promise to hold one, undoubtedly because it would have been defeated had a vote been held.

This is just further proof that the only countries in strong favor of the EU are those that still have something to benefit from membership, whether handouts from Brussels, access to a broader labor market and so on. Those countries that are net contributors to the EU, and whose economies are more flexible than the EU would allow them to be, are straining at the bit to get out, or at least to resist further integration. 

Good for the voters of Ireland, and good for the others who are resisting this latest round of “ever closer union“. It would be nice if this vote really did stymie the process of further integration in the way some seem to think it will – it’s about time for the members of the EU to pause and take stock of the benefits of membership before we move any further forward.