Wise Up Journal
by Benjamin Smith-Kavanagh

Since the last article exposing how RTE (Ireland’s broadcasting organization “owned” by the Irish people) are manipulating the Irish public on the Lisbon Treaty (RTE SELLING the Lisbon Treaty!), far from changing their blatant manipulation and deceit they have increased it over the last week, their website called “RTE Lisbon Treaty” has continued it‘s one-sided propaganda. Sean Whelan their European Political Editor who is clearly in support of this Treaty is their number one when it comes to this cause. He even has his own section called “Our Man In Brussels“, where he has articles and interviews which are supposed to be impartial towards the Lisbon Treaty but are clearly written and spoken by someone in favour of a yes vote.

“A Matter Of Tax”, an article which was written after the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde said they would push harmonised taxes in the EU:

A Matter Of Tax
by Sean Whelan

“Sean Whelan, Europe Editor, looks at the issue of corporation tax and the Lisbon Treaty, after the recent comments by France’s Finance Minister.

Just when the Government thinks it is dead and buried as a referendum issue, up jumps the corpse of the Common Consolidated Tax Base (CCTB) to frighten the good folk of Ireland.

CCTB was given the French kiss of life last Monday, when Nicolas Sarkozy’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, said the French presidency of the EU in the second half of this year would press the issue.

Libertas, the anti-Lisbon campaign group, was quick to pounce on the issue as proof that Ireland’s relatively low corporate tax rate is threatened by the Lisbon Treaty.

There was even the unusual sight of Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore coming to Brussels and pledging to support the Irish Government in its efforts to stop the CCTB plan in its tracks.

But what is all the fuss about? Firstly, as even Commissioner Kovacs accepts, the Irish Government, amongst others, will veto this proposed directive, which nobody has seen yet, when it is tabled.

Proponents of the system say it will increase transparency and make it easier to eliminate what they call ‘harmful or unfair’ tax policies. Opponents say it is unworkable, that it will drive business away from Europe, and lead to higher tax rates. Worst of all, they say it will lead to a harmonised single tax rate for business right across the EU.

Win, lose or draw on the Lisbon referendum, this issue is still going to be out there, and is not going to go away anytime soon. I believe it is not going to make it as an EU policy, because the current system suits too many governments and companies, both of whom see advantages in a lack of transparency. In the Irish case, I cannot see a change in Government policy, unless the multinational companies see advantages in a harmonised system: if they threaten to pull out of Ireland because it is not using CCTB, then expect a change.”

When the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, revealed their harmonised tax plans a little early, they realised the concern of Irish voters, and several ministers along with Sean Whelan himself went in to damage control mode. His article from start to finish is to defuse the understandable and general concern that both Irish and European citizen’s have about issues such as tax harmonisation.

Even though the ministers and Sean Whelan are trying to convince us that the Lisbon Treaty will allow member governments to keep their veto on these matters, Article 113 can allow the Council to bring in harmonization of ‘indirect taxes’ which will be defined by the ECJ.

The EU Court can rule that the unequal company tax rate is a “distortion of competition” because of the way profits are derived form sales in countries with different tax regimes. This can be done without affecting the unanimity requirement needed to change laws in this area or to change the tax rate. But if such a ruling is made, the offending State would have to take steps to make a change, or it would find itself before the Court again.

Also Article 311 would allow the EU to introduce any kind of new tax to finance its activities as it seeks to attain its objectives creating a new form of it’s “own resources.” This would need to be done unanimously but would not require a referendum, as we would have given permission for it by ratifying Lisbon.

The National Parliaments will only have the “power” to debate issues but no power to block any laws being made in Brussels, which is not a power at all. If the French or German Governments feel the Irish are distorting competition with our 12.5 % corporate tax rate they could take the matter up with the ECJ, the same way a business can if they believe their competitors are involved in restrictive competition.

Not surprisingly another point Sean Whelan forgot to raise was QMV, which once it becomes active will allow big nations like Germany and France, who are already biting on our heals for tax harmonisation, a controlling say in how the EU is run on almost every issue. Even if 12 medium sized states join together (Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, etc) they still will not be able to block a decision, as a 35% population count is also required. The nations of the EU will be under playground rules, where the bigger you the better. Ministers from bigger states will gain more weight, and these individuals will be able to drag entire nations along with their them. You can call it the price of being “more democratic.”

But as Sean himself said as an “impartial” reporter, “I believe it is not going to make it as an EU policy because the current system suits too many governments and companies, both of whom see advantages in a lack of transparency.” Nothing to worry about then, we can lay our real concerns to rest. But aren’t all the people in support of this Treaty saying it is going to make the EU more transparent in all areas? Maybe the yes side are unwittingly getting the message across that the treaty and the EU are transparently ill-defined in all areas.

RTE and Sean Whelan were quick to pounce on and distort Bertie Ahern’s resignation before the referendum (mainly because of his ongoing involvement in the Mahon Tribunal). This resignation announcement made all the wrong headlines for those who want the Irish to vote yes on the Treaty of Lisbon.

Sean Whelan’s “impartial and unbiased” article which highlights how Bertie Ahern’s money problems could cause the Irish to vote no:

Ahern’s departure good for the referendum?

“Sean Whelan, RTÉ’s Europe Editor, looks at EU reaction to Bertie Ahern’s departure plans, and the effect it may have on the Lisbon Treaty vote.I broke the news of Bertie Ahern’s resignation to a Commission employee just after midday. Without blinking, he shot back with ‘that’s positive for the referendum’.

First reactions are usually best, and that’s the kind of unsentimental analysis you expect from political professionals. The Bertie factor is now gone from the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and his European colleagues are breathing a little easier. Nobody will be voting against Lisbon as a way of getting rid of Bertie Ahern, so that element of political risk is gone, removed by Mr Ahern himself.

In his resignation statement on the steps of Government Buildings, he said he was going because the ‘constant barrage of commentary on tribunal related matters’ was dominating the political agenda at what he called ‘an important point for our country’.

The immediate national interest test for Ireland is the Lisbon referendum. The political risk of the Lisbon referendum becoming a referendum on Bertie Ahern was too great. It added too much uncertainty to the equation, increasing the risk of losing the referendum – and the consequent damage to national interest.

So having done ‘the right thing’ for Europe, will Europe do the right thing by Bertie and give him the proverbial ‘big job in Brussels’?

The question is, was he under pressure from other Government leaders to ‘do the right thing’ for the treaty?

They all know there was a ‘Chirac factor’ in the French referendum that shot down the EU constitution, and there was concern about a ‘Bertie factor’.”

Where can you start to critically examine such pro-Lisbon propaganda from someone who is supposed to be impartial and unbiased, how about the first sentence:

“I broke the news of Bertie Ahern’s resignation to a Commission employee just after midday.” That is something of interest to note when it comes to Sean Whelan; it is all about I. I broke the news of Bertie Ahern’s resignation, I believe it is not going to make it as an EU policy, I cannot see a change in Government policy etc. You would be able to write up ten pages of Mr. Whelan saying I believe this and I believe that, but the thing he and RTE seem to have forgotten is, it’s not what RTE or their reporters/presenters “believe” or “think”, it’s about reporting and informing the public of serious issues in a critical way.

The most worrying aspect of the article was how he trid to say the French people only rejected the EU Constitution because of the “Chirac factor.” What if the Irish vote no on the Treaty Of Lisbon will he say it was because of a “New Prime Minister Factor” and not because the Irish know the Lisbon Treaty is bad for Ireland and bad for Europe.

After taking a closer look at RTE and their coverage of the treaty it was no surprise when Sean Whelan popped up again on the TV show Prime Time (17th April 2008). The show was mainly impartial and covered serious questions of what the treaty will do, but that ended when the time came for Sean Whelan to give his expertise. Whelan came out with the usual spin that if Ireland votes against the Lisbon Treaty we will lose much influence in Brussels, when in fact if we vote yes our voting weight will be cut by more than half and we will not have an EU commissioner for 5 out of every 15 years, but to Whelan that is irrelevant. Indeed he has gone to great pains to not once critically analyse the articles contained in the treaty, and the real effects it will have. This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated, especially when it involves something that will effect the lives of 500 million people.

Click here to view the Prime Time show where Sean Whelan engaged in scaremongering without apology: Sean Whelan says if Ireland votes against the Lisbon Treaty we will lose much influence in Brussels.

The majority of the Irish public look to RTE to provide impartial and critical analyses of serious issues. But RTE has long ago turned their back to public obligations in favour of spin and generating revenue from advertisements. In other words compromising quality for profit. This kind of practise cannot be allowed and RTE must remove Sean Whelan from his current job immediately, or RTE must be sued for not living up to it’s legal obligations to the public (a service broadcaster, a non-profit making organization owned by the Irish people, which are of the highest impartial quality).

Whelan’s favourite catchphrase on the treaty seems to be “enough is enough”, referring to the institutional changes he believes needs to be made in the EU, but the real enough is enough should be the corruption, lack of accountability, increased centralisation of power and the sheer contempt for you and I, the people of Europe.