Monday, 11 May 2009

Preparing for the Lisbon Treaty

It is hard to distinguish which anti-intellectual and anti-European arguments are most absurd, but one of the more insidious ones is the alleged anti-democratic nature of preparation for the possible entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Lisbon Treaty was agreed between 27 governments, and it has been approved by 26 national parliaments. The Irish government is going to arrange a second referendum, based on the guarantees it has received from its European partners.

The treaty is dead only for those who despise representative democracy (although it takes place at the national instead of the European level).

The Lisbon Treaty enters into force on the first day of the month following the deposition of the last ratification instrument.

In other words, if the institutions wait until the deposition of the last ratification, there is no chance for them to prepare the necessary decisions to put the Lisbon Treaty into practice in time.

It would be irresponsible to wait, but the Council and the Commission have been cowardly enough to stop preparatory work, at least in public.

This is a loss for open and transparent debate about the implementing issues.

The European Parliament has shown more sense of responsibility, laying down its views in votes on five reports last week.


The protracted ratification processes have already caused problems with regard to the nomination of the Commission President and the Commissioners as well as the number of MEPs to be elected.

Some writers have attacked the training of the European External Action Service (EEAS) ahead of the possible entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Do they prefer an incoherent European Union in world affairs, with untrained representatives and less security for EU citizens?

Contrary to what the critics say, the EU institutions and the member states should not only take responsibility, but act and argue openly.

They should clearly state the near total ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and they should show that they are ready to launch the treaty, if it is finally improved.

Instead of hiding their heads in the sand, they should report on preparatory work, and publish draft proposals, consulting with experts, NGOs and the public.

If EU 1.0 diplomats and technocrats do not grasp the nettle of their own accord, EU citizens should remind them of their duties.

Ralf Grahn