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In the wake of the Irish no-vote on the Treaty of Lisbon, numerous scenarios are currently being debated. This paper critically assesses the legality and political feasibility of the principal proposals and then puts forward an alternative ‘Plan B’, which the authors believe would amply satisfy both criteria.
Despite its protracted ratification process and pledges from national administrations and EU authorities that the Lisbon Treaty had closed the issue of treaty reform for the foreseeable future, a number of modifications to the EU treaties are currently in the pipeline. This Policy Brief provides an overview of the various procedures that are available for changing the Treaty of Lisbon.
[From the Introduction]. The most surprising aspect of Europe’s newest treaty is not so much its content, but more the way it came into being. For the first time in the history of European integration, a treaty is not the result of a “night of the long knives” at an EU Summit, but rather a several-year process. This process, characterized by a series of advances and setbacks, began with the “Laeken Declaration” (1), in which the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States recognized that the usual modes of diplomacy no longer represented an appropriate means for setting the course of future European politics. Consequently in February 2002, a Convention presided by former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing was convened for the purpose of working on proposals on institutional and constitutional reforms of the European Un...
The fact is that, over that two year period, much less attention has been given to the practical implementation of new institutional proposals included in the proposed treaty. Even a cursory examination indicates that the implementation of some of these proposals is likely to be uneasy, and in some cases could be a source of future problems or difficulties. This is why three Brussels based think-tanks have thought it useful to join efforts in analysing potential implications of the most significant proposals in the field of institutions. Seven issues have been identified, shared out and debated in working groups, and this publication contains the results of that collective effort. Our aim is to highlight, and if possible, clarify potential problems. We have worked on the basis of the Reform Treaty approved at Lisbon in October 2007, wi...
[From the Introduction]. The European Union is currently based on the treaty framework which emerged as the Treaty of Nice entered into force in 2003 (European Union, 2003). The Constitutional Treaty elaborated during the Convention on the Future of Europe, 2002-2003, and finally negotiated during the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), 2003-2004, proposed a number of changes in that framework, but the treaty was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands in May and June 2005 (Laursen, 2008). After a reflection period it was decided to negotiate a so-called Reform Treaty. The German Presidency played an important role in securing agreement on a mandate for a new IGC in June 2007. During the Portuguese Presidency in the autumn of 2007 that IGC then produced a new treaty, the Lisbon Treaty (European Union 2007). In this paper we...
The new 'Lisbon Treaty' agreed at the European Council meeting on 18-19 October 2007, preserves most of the substance of the failed Constitution; it will serve the EU well. As usual, however, Europe has taken a step forward by creating a new disequilibrium; new Treaty revisions are likely to be proposed even before all the provisions of this present one have been implemented.
After a long period of internal introspection and deadlock over the Constitutional Treaty, the EU can now see some light at the end of the tunnel. If successfully ratified, the new European Treaty agreed by the Head of States and Government in Lisbon may provide the appropriate institutional tools for the EU to function with 27 member states. However, the success of institutional innovations depends not only on legal provisions, but also on the way in which the provisions are implemented. Indeed, even a cursory examination indicates that the implementation of the new proposals is unlikely to be easy, and in some cases could be a source of serious difficulties in the future. In the absence of serious analysis aimed at this latter question, three Brussels-based think-tanks have joined forces in a collaborative effort to fill this gap. Ou...
Despite their substantial similarity, there are two principal overarching differences between the abandoned Constitutional Treaty and its intended successor, the Treaty of Lisbon. The latter document has been methodically stripped of many elements that gave the former a “constitutional” flavour; and the latter text has been interspersed with numerous additional safeguards to prevent the encroachment of EU law upon member state law. In this way the Treaty of Lisbon signals, on balance, a rejection of the notion of EU law either as inherently superior to member state law or inherently expansive in its scope. Rather, it is more conducive with a pluralist conception of European constitutionalism in which EU and member state law constitute parallel and overlapping spheres. They are parallel in that they coexist without either one being supe...
The Treaty of Lisbon as well as its predecessor – The Draft Constitutional Treaty – has been widely discussed under the objectives of the Laeken Declaration, aimed at improving the effectiveness, transparency and democratic accountability of the EU. Although these declared objectives play a role in the revision of the Treaties, a hidden agenda also underlies the reform. In light of an enlarged, but deeply divided Union challenged by ever more pressing problems, the lack of institutional provisions for effective leadership seems to be of major concern to the member states. However, enhancing leadership in the EU is not an easy endeavor, as the system is highly fragmented, characterized by manifold contradictions in its institutional structure, and faced with strong vested interests of the member states. This paper highlights the institu...
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