The making of the CT Recognizing the limitations of the treaties the national leaders had contracted, they agreed at Nice to open up a debate on the future of the EU and to convene another IGC in 2004. The Laeken Declaration on the future of the European Union was issued by European Council. This declared that the EU needed to be ‘more democratic, more transparent and more efficient.’
The making of the CT Three basic challenges: 1.‘how to bring citizens, and primarily the young, closer to the European design and the European institution', 2.'how to organize politics and the European political area in an enlarged Union’ 3.and ‘how to develop the Union into a stabilizing factor and a model in the new, multipolar world’. The convention needed to examine a number of issues: establishing a better division and definition of EU competences, simplifying the Union’s instruments, increasing democracy, transparency and efficiency, and simplifying and reorganizing the treaties.
The convention was composed of 105 members and the dominant presence was parliamentarians rather than governmental representatives. The Laeken declaration had stated that the convention’s ‘final document will provide a starting point for discussions in the Intergovernmental conference, which will take the ultimate decisions.’ However it became clear the work of the convention was very important for IGC discussions and so it attracted great attention. The final text was formally presented to the Italian Council Presidency on 18 July 2003. Since the recommendations were relatively modest and essentially incrementalist in manner, most of them were acceptable to IGC.
The intergovernmental conference Governments approached the IGC with a mixture of views: The inclusion of a reference to Europe’s Christian inheritance and views. To retain the system of a rotating Council presidency. To the inclusion of a collective defense clause. However, attempts by governments to re-open particular matters that had been agreed in the Convention were generally discouraged.
The intergovernmental conference Two matters could not be resolved… The size of the college of Commissioners. The small states opposed to the miniaturization. Voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers. The Convention had recommended that a double majority system be adopted. Germany was especially anxious to accept this recommendation. Poland and Spain strongly opposed to it. However, this situation changed partly because of a general election in Spain.
The contents of the Constitutional Treaty Among the main features of the CT, six were especially important. First, the hope of Euro-enthusiasts that a reasonably simple document would be produced that would be widely recognized as being a ‘proper’ constitution was not realized. Second, most of the CT contents were taken from the treaties it was designed to replace. Third, the new content consisted of relatively modest changes designed to make the EU more efficient and more democratic.
The contents of the Constitutional Treaty Fourth, it was important to give the EU greater coherence and identity. Fifth, changes in institutional provisions and decision-making arrangements did not have much overall effect on the intergovernmental/supranational balance within the Union. Sixth, the CT had potentially great symbolic significance with its use of the word ‘constitution’ and with treaty status being given to the already much-used EU ‘anthem’ and flag.
Ratifying the Constitutional Treaty The CT could not enter into force until it had been ratified by all of the member states. In the past, member states have ratified post-accession treaties by a parliamentary vote. The exceptions have been those occasional instances when referendums have been used. For the CT, the use of referendums was widespread partly because of the highly symbolic importance of the treaty and partly because of the much larger number of member states in the enlarged EU.
Ratifying the Constitutional Treaty A referendum is much more difficult for a government to control than a parliamentary vote. Citizens can ‘cause problems’ in two ways: by taking a contrary view to the government on the issue at stake, or by expressing a view on an issue or issues other than the one that features in the referendum question. Both of these ‘problems’ influenced voting when ratification referendums were held in France on 29 May 2005 and three days later in the Netherland on 1 June.
Ratifying the Constitutional Treaty In France and Netherland, the possibility of No votes increased over the course of the referendum campaigns. One reason for this was growing opposition to the form of the Treaty, which was seen by many embracing elite rather than popular wishes. Another reason was concerns about the supposed ‘Anglo-American’ social and economic values contained in the treaty. Third reason was that various ‘non-Treaty’ matters featured in the campaign.
Ratifying the Constitutional Treaty The outcomes of the two referendums were clear rejection of the CT. A European Council meeting was already scheduled for the week after the referendums. In a declaration it was stated that the matter would be set aside until the first half of 2006 so as to allow for a ‘period of reflection will be used to enable a broad debate to take place in each of our countries’.
From the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty The task of determining the contents of the CT’s successor began early in the German Council Presidency of the first half of 2007. The initial steps were handled by a team of ‘sherpas’ whose task was to draft a ‘Berlin Declaration’; it and its making process were important in advancing the treaty- making process. One way was that the negotiation of the Declaration Chancellor Merkel and her support team with opportunities to sound out member state governments on opinions for a replacement to the CT. Shortly after the issuing of the Declaration, member states were invited by the Presidency to complete a questionnaire outlining their stances on the key treaty issues.
From the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty The Presidency increasingly made it clear that the convening of a traditional IGC in which governments bring their lists of preferences and demands to the table was not being envisaged. Rather, the IGC would be largely confined to considering what elements of the CT would have to be amended or dropped to ensure national ratifications. The sherpas duly produced a draft IGC mandate that was adopted by the June 2007 European Council meeting and was included in the summit’s presidency conclusions.
From the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty The Reform Treaty was politically agreed and signed by the Heads of State and Government at an informal meeting on 18 October in Lisbon. The only states in which a referendum was held was Ireland. Elsewhere, ratification was mainly by parliamentary votes. The Irish referendum resulted in a rejection of the Lisbon treaty: by 53.6 % to 46.4 % on a 53.1% turnout. Ireland was expected to vote again after being given assurances on issues that had played an important part in producing the rejection of the treaty.
From the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty First, under the Lisbon treaty, Ireland would not always have a commissioners. The assurance took the form of a statement that the treaty stipulation (the size of the college of commissioners would be replaced to two thirds of the number of EU members) would be replaced by the existing Nice system of one commissioner per member state. The second form of assurance involved committing to a legally binging Protocol to be attached to the EU’s treaties that would allay Irish concerns that its policies in regard to taxation, military neutrality, ethical issues, and aspects of social matters would not be affected by the Treaty.
From the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty With these two assurances given, the Irish government held a second referendum in October 2009 and won a majority: the Lisbon Treaty was endorsed by 67.1 % to 32.9% on a 58% turnout. After all, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force on 1 December 2009.
In France In France, the CT was rejected (54.87 ％ to 45.13 ％ ). However, in a big city such as Paris, Lyon or Strasbourg, over 60% citizens supported the CT. It can be said that French people rejected the CT because of not only the dissatisfaction about the CT but also the discontent about the internal politics (unemployment, the loss of purchasing power etc.) In addition, the enlargement to the east caused the move of businesses abroad or social dumping. These backgrounds made French people skeptical about the CT.
In Netherland On the other hand, in Netherland, there were roughly three international problems. First, Dutch people had fear that the initiative can be taken by Germany, French or Poland, which was one of the new-EU member countries. They complained that the merit from EU was very small though their monetary burden was very heavy. Second, Dutch people complained that the acceptance of Euro was a big mistake. Third, they didn’t like the idea that Turkey became an EU member.
Why the Irish people opposed to the Lisbon treaty?
The background Ireland had been strongly affected by the US subprime loan problem and a strong Euro. It was said that the liberalization of trade could ruin the Irish agriculture. Also, the information on the Lisbon treaty was provided rather than by government or by public institutions. This made people to have wrong image on the Treaty. It might be too difficult for normal citizens to understand the Lisbon treaty fully, and there is a doubt if the adoption of the referendum was right or not.
The Lisbon treaty might be too difficult to understand… The Irish citizen could have been at a loss.
videos Karen Coleman report on the Lisbon Treaty (Ireland/complexity) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqAFrFXR1h4 The Lisbon Treaty Explained (Ireland/process to the agreement) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVNzeFiKgq0
The Contents of the Lisbon Treaty Some amendments and changes were implemented to 2004 Constitutional Treaty. Most of the contents of the CT strikingly remained. Overall, it can be assumed that 95 % of the CT has been kept in the areas of institutional structures as well as substantive policies (Ponzano, 2007:16). Why is Lisbon Treaty so similar to CT?
Two Reasons for the Striking Similarity between the CT and the Lisbon Treaty No more prolongation of the procedure was desirable for the governments. Factors the contents of CT had been supposed to deal with were still remaining.
Differences between the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty Changes of the form and symbolic content of the treaties (e.g. the LT does not repeal the existing treaties but only amends them.) Changes of substance (e.g. New legal bases are created for combating climate change and for member states acting in a spirit of solidarity in respect of energy policy.) Opt-ins, opt-outs, and clarifications (e.g. In a Protocol, Ireland is assured that the Treaty does not affect its policies on taxation, military neutrality, ethical issues, and aspects of social policy.)
Three main reasons for the changes contained in the Lisbon Treaty 1. To make the Treaty more acceptable to people (e.g. dropping ‘constitutional’ language and symbols to let the government correctly potray the Treaty as amending treaty) 2. To accommodate a number of pressing national /institutional interests (e.g. British government was the major beneficiary of this, for the government’s demand to repeal the referendum of the CT was accommodated.) 3. To recognize new influential issues on the political agenda (e.g. establishment of new legal bases for prioritizing member state coordination on energy policy and climate change problems)
Evaluation and Impact of the Lisbon Treaty Evaluation greatly varies due to two factors: people’s different attitudes,and the uncertainty of high profile provisions. Those skeptical about European integration might be surprised at supranational advances of the Treaty whereas Europhiles are disappointed at the rejection of the CT. (As for the impact of the LT,) the LT does contain significant changes and amendments to the contents of the existing treaties, which enables the enlarged EU to simplify its nature, enhance its operation, and reinforce its democracy.
Discussion Questions Why were the ‘constitutional’ aspects of the Constitutional Treaty hard for the EU member states to accept? What were the upside and the downside of holding a referendum rather than a parliamentary vote before the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty? What could be done to make the Lisbon Treaty easier for the Irish (and people in other member states) to comprehend? Who was the biggest beneficiary of the Lisbon Treaty? Moreover, who lost power due to the Treaty? Please feel free to comment on other factors!