Friday, 27 June 2008

Lisbon Treaty: Legal analysis of ratification, implementation and impact of non-ratification

Professor Steve Peers, of the University of Essex, has written a legal analysis of the situation following the Irish ‘no’ vote on the EU Treaty of Lisbon.

The paper looks, in great clarity, at three main questions, with detailed potential variations:

1) Can the Treaty of Lisbon still be ratified?

2) Can the Lisbon treaty be implemented in practice, if it is not ratified?

3) What would be the impact of non-ratification of the Lisbon Treaty upon the European Union?

The analysis is recommended for everyone interested in the various options discussed in earnest since the outcome of the referendum in Ireland. ‘Can the Treaty of Lisbon be ratified or implemented? A legal analysis’, by Steve Peers (19 June 2008; 15 pages, pdf), can be accessed at the Statewatch web pages:


The conclusions are legal, not political, but they form the basis for coming political decisions.

The details are best left to the reader, so I will make just a few short remarks.

Roughly, the new offices and improved decision-making procedures are stalled in the event of non-ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

If push came to shove, the member states can be seen to have an implied right to withdraw from the union (in order to establish a new one). Here, an additional discussion of the main theme of EU integration, ever closer union, with regard to the ‘clausula rebus sic stantibus’ would have been welcome, with regard to member states frustrated in their attempts to advance.

Legally, the European Union could expand (but is it feasible politically?).

If there is no new treaty in time (for the European elections 2009), two old ghosts of the Treaty of Nice are worthy of notice. The number of Commission members has to be cut and the number of MEPs would be 732, instead of 751. In both cases, time is running (out).

An interesting promise to look forward to: A detailed Statewatch analysis with Proposals for greater openness, transparency and democracy in the EU (forthcoming).

Ralf Grahn