Saturday, 14 November 2009

Final ratification of EU Lisbon Treaty ─ finally

Czech Happenings report that prime minister Jan Fischer deposited the 27th and last ratification instrument of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty on Friday with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome: Czech PM brings Lisbon treaty to Rome ending ratification process (13 November 2009).

Now that all the ratification instruments are in, the Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 1 December 2009, not that it has been in doubt since president Vaclav Klaus finally signed it. But it would have been nice if the Council of the European Union, just this once, had updated its web page on Lisbon Treaty ratifications in real time. As it is, there is still a gaping hole for the ratification date of the Czech Republic.

Haphazard information ─ need for improvement

Admittedly, the shift from the Treaty of Nice to the Treaty of Lisbon is somewhat messy, but the EU Council could have done a bit more to inform the public about the legal and political aspects of various issues requiring implementation.

The legality of the current Commission continuing in office ─ in a caretaker capacity ─ from 1 November 2009 has been questioned in mainstream media as well as in blogs. Shouldn’t clarifying answers be given by the Council?

Is it clear that the (as yet unknown) new high representative can take over as vice-president of the Commission on 1 December 2009, given the need for hearings by the European Parliament?

Wouldn’t more visible and comprehensive reporting about all the other implementation issues regarding the Lisbon Treaty be in order?

The nomination procedures for the president-chairman of the European Council and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy cum vice-president of the Commission are a superb illustration of how intergovernmental cooperation works (so supporters of “freely cooperating, sovereign nation states” have forfeited their right to criticise).

However, those in favour of EU level democracy, or even just a more democratic European Union, can ask with Jean-Guy Giraud on Regards-citoyens if the first steps to be taken under the Lisbon Treaty have to violate the basic principles of a union “in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen”; in Bienvenue à M./MME ‘PPCC’, Président/E du Conseil européen (13 November 2009).

In the meanwhile, you can vote at Fondation Robert Schuman on some of the persons rumoured to be candidates to become president of the European Council. A short while ago 8,733 had participated, despite the official black-out; hardly an indication of a total lack of interest among EU citizens for our common future.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Are EU citizens worth a better European Union? Read and discuss on the Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual