Here is a question for sadistic quizmasters: Can the Council amend the EU Treaty of Lisbon without later ratification by national parliaments?
The answer is ‘yes’ in at least one, highly atypical situation. Article 98 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union offers the Council the possibility to repeal a privilege enjoyed by Germany as a legacy of the division of that country.
Article 98 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is found in the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/87:
Part Three ‘Policies and internal actions of the Union’
Title VI TFEU ‘Transport’
Article 98 TFEU
(ex Article 78 TEC)
The provisions of this Title shall not form an obstacle to the application of measures taken in the Federal Republic of Germany to the extent that such measures are required in order to compensate for the economic disadvantages caused by the division of Germany to the economy of certain areas of the Federal Republic affected by that division. Five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, may adopt a decision repealing this Article.
In Article 2, point 73 of the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) laid out the specific amendments to Article 78 TEC (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/68).
73) In Article 78, the following sentence shall be added:
‘Five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council, acting on a proposal
from the Commission, may adopt a decision repealing this Article.’.
The TFEU table of equivalences tells us that Article 78 TEC first became Article 78 TFEU (ToL), but later renumbered Article 98 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/210).
The current Article 78 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) is found under Title V ‘Transport’ in the latest consolidated version of the treaties in force (OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/73):
Article 78 TEC
The provisions of this title shall not form an obstacle to the application of measures taken in the Federal Republic of Germany to the extent that such measures are required in order to compensate for the economic disadvantages caused by the division of Germany to the economy of certain areas of the Federal Republic affected by that division.
For the sake of a systematic comparison, we look at the Article during the previous treaty reform stages.
First, we turn to the European Convention.
Article III-141 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe used the word ‘Section’ where the current Article 77 TEC says ‘title’, but otherwise the text was unchanged (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/55).
Article III-243 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe added a sentence to the text of the European Convention (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/107):
Article III-243 Constitution
The provisions of this Section shall not form an obstacle to the application of measures taken in the Federal Republic of Germany to the extent that such measures are required in order to compensate for the economic disadvantages caused by the division of Germany to the economy of certain areas of the Federal Republic affected by that division. Five years after the entry into force of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, may adopt a European decision repealing this Article.
We can see that the IGC 2004 agreed on the possibility to repeal the provision on derogations on the basis of the division of Germany. This was taken over by the IGC 2007 as part of the 2004 package, if nothing in the IGC 2007 Mandate said anything to the contrary.
Naturally, the effects of the division of Germany are not over yet, almost two decades after German unification.
Sozialpolitik aktuell in Deutschland, Universität Duisburg, Essen, Institut für Soziologie, offers web pages with social indicators in Germany. In 2007 the unemployment rate in the old ‚Bundesländer’ was 8.4 per cent, but twice as high (16.8 per dent) in the new states. See Arbeitslosenquoten in neuen und alten Bundesländern 1975 – 2007:
On the other hand, increasingly a special rule for the rich Federal Republic of Germany is an anomaly in a European Union with ten poorer former Communist member states, without a richer big brother to help them out.
In principle, of anecdotal value only, one of the consequences of the stalled ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty was that this German special arrangement got an extra two year lease of life (if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force according to plan).
What have others said about Article 98 TFEU?
Professor Steve Peers covered the Treaty of Lisbon in a number of Statewatch Analyses. ‘EU Reform Treaty Analysis no. 3.3: Revised text of Part Three, Titles I to VI of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC): Internal Market and competition’ (Version 2, 23 October 2007) includes the current Title V Transport.
Peers commented on the last sentence of Article 78 TEC and TFEU (ToL), to be renumbered Article 98 TFEU in the consolidated version, in the following way (page 23):
“The amendment is entirely new. It permits this Treaty Article to be amended (repealed) by QMV.”
The analysis 3.3 and other useful Statewatch analyses are available through:
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers a convenient source of brief annotations on Lisbon Treaty amendments in ‘A comparative table of the current EC and EU treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon’ (Command Paper 7311, published 21 January 2008). It offers the following comment on Article 98 TFEU, Article 78 TFEU (ToL) in the original Lisbon Treaty (page 11):
“In substance the same as Article 78 TEC, with a new power for the Council, by QMV, to repeal this provision.”
The FCO comparative table is available at:
The UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/86 ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Community’ (published 6 December 2007) wrapped up Transport in a brief comment on page 56:
Title V, Articles 70-80 (Constitution Articles III-236 – 245) are on transport and are based largely on Articles 70 – 75 TEC, but with a change in the voting procedure to the OLP with QMV, except for Article 72, which replaces unanimity in the Constitution Article III-237 with a “special legislative procedure”. Other, minor, changes are Article 75(c), which adds the EP to those bodies to be consulted, and Article 78 (Constitution Article III-243), allowing the Article concerning German unification to be repealed after 5 years.
Present Articles 154 – 156 on Trans-European Networks (TENS) have been moved to Title VII and contain only minor amendments.”
The Library Research Paper 07/86 is available at:
The House of Lords European Union Committee report ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, Volume I: Report’ (HL Paper 62-I, published 13 March 2008) made no explicit reference to Article 98 TFEU.
The report is accessible at:
The consultation paper of the government of Sweden, ‘Lissabonfördraget; Statsrådsberedningen, Departementsserien (Ds), Ds 2007:48’ published 20 December 2007, bundled together transport and trans-European networks under the headline ‘Transporter och transeuropeiska nät’ (page 280 to 282).
The text offers an overview of the coming Title VI ‘Transport’, and Article 78 TEC and TFEU (ToL) is explained on page 282:
“Vidare har genom Lissabonfördraget införts en möjlighet för rådet att, efter fem år från ikraftträdandet av fördraget, upphäva artikel 78 i EUF-fördraget, som möjliggör att vissa åtgärder vidtas för att uppväga de ekonomiska nackdelar som uppkommit genom Tysklands delning för näringslivet i vissa av de områden i förbundsrepubliken som påverkats av delningen. I en gemensam förklaring (28) till artikel 78 i fördraget om Europeiska unionens funktionssätt anges att bestämmelsen ska tillämpas i enlighet med gällande praxis från EU-domstolen.”
The consultation paper ’Lissabonfördraget’ is available at:
The Finnish ratification bill, ‘Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle Euroopan unionista tehdyn sopimuksen ja Euroopan yhteisön perustamissopimuksen muuttamisesta tehdyn Lissabonin sopimuksen hyväksymisestä ja laiksi sen lainsäädännön alaan kuuluvien määräysten voimaansaattamisesta’ (HE 23/2008 vp), describes Article 78 TFEU (ToL), renumbered Article 98 TFEU, mentions Declaration 28 and refers to a more detailed treatment of declarations (page 206).
The Finnish ratification bill is available at:
The Swedish language version of the ratification bill ‘Regeringens proposition till Riksdagen med förslag om godkännande av Lissabonfördraget om ändring av fördraget om Europeiska unionen och fördraget om upprättandet av Europeiska gemenskapen och till lag om sättande i kraft av de bestämmelser i fördraget som hör till området för lagstiftningen’ (RP 23/2008 rd), explains Article 78, mentions Declaration 28 and refers to the detailed text on declarations (page 209).
The ratification bill in Swedish can be accessed at:
Among the declarations annexed to the final act of the intergovernmental conference which adopted the Treaty of Lisbon, we find Declaration number 28 (OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/347):
28. Declaration on Article 98 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
The Conference notes that the provisions of Article 98 shall be applied in accordance with the current practice. The terms ‘such measures are required in order to compensate for the economic disadvantages caused by the division of Germany to the economy of certain areas of the Federal Republic affected by that division’ shall be interpreted in accordance with the existing case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.