Monday 5 November 2007

Plan-D and the Lisbon Treaty

Am I the only one to gripe about an unreadable and incomprehensible Reform Treaty or Lisbon Treaty in its present form?

No, I am not. Let us see what a few distinguished Europeans have said.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who led the Convention which prepared the draft Constitutional Treaty called the new treaty illegible for citizens:

”Il est illisible pour les citoyens, qui doivent constamment se reporter aux textes des traités de Rome et de Maastricht, auxquels s’appliquent ces amendements.”


Jens Peter Bonde MEP, a known Eurosceptic, described the Lisbon Treaty in the following way in the introduction to his book on the Reform Treaty:

”They have managed to make the new text as difficult and inaccessible as humanly possible. The amendments can only be read by a few initiated specialists who are generally in favour.”


Giuliano Amato, a well-known expert in European Union law and vice president of the Convention, earlier gave his view on the mandate the leaders of the EU member states gave the intergovernmental conference, as reported by EUobserver:

”They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception.”


More testimonies are hardly needed. The Reform Treaty is simply impossible to read and to understand for the citizens of the European Union, our witnesses conclude.

In addition, the legal experts chose to present the amendments in a manner which makes it hard to follow the proposed changes even when you have the existing treaties at hand. If whole paragraphs had been presented, in a logical order, reading would have been somewhat easier.

I have seen no publicly announced reasons for these choices of presentation.


Many of us remember the Commissions Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate.

A short while ago Margot Wallströmin spoke on the participation of citizens:

“It will not be possible to continue this project of European integration without the citizens and without their participation.”


In spite of this, the members of the European Council have made no haste to give the citizens of the European Union correct, sufficient and user friendly information on the proposed Lisbon Treaty.

Perhaps the leaders of the member states want to create a void to be filled by false and misleading propaganda from the political fringes, which seems to be taking place in Britain and France.

If our political leaders do not understand that readable basic texts are essential for a democratic EU debate, their non-publishing blunder is going to alienate even those citizens who see the Lisbon Treaty as an improvement on the present Nice Treaty and who would favour normal parliamentary ratifications of the new treaty.

If the Council fails to publish complete consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty promptly, the Commission of the European Communities as the guardian of the common interest or the European Parliament as the representative of the citizens of the EU should step in quickly to repair the mistake of the leaders.

Instant publication of consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty on the web, in all the official languages of the Union, is the most important and most urgent communication task for the European Union. It is an elementary requirement for democratic debate.

Or is Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate just a bad joke?

Ralf Grahn


Le blog de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, pour la démocratie en Europe : La boîte à outils du traité de Lisbonne ; 26 octobre 2007 ;

Jens Peter Bonde: New name – Same Content: The Lisbon Treaty – is it also an EU Constitution? 2nd edition, 22 October 2007

The Commission’s contribution to the period of reflection and beyond: Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate; Brussels, 13.10.2005, COM(2005) 494 final

Wallström wants more citizens’ engagement but no referenda; EurActiv 18 September 2007;


  1. Plan D was a policy initiative launched by Margot Wallström nearly immediately following the rejection of the constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands. It's a typical example of political entrepreneurship: jumping into a crisis with a new approach.

    Unfortunately, many in Brussels and virtually all in Berlin felt little for this approach and so the Council went its own way. In the mean while 'Plan D' had become institutionalised, part of an agenda driven by one directorate without much support from elsewhere.

    I'd think Margot must be rather bitter about this privately, but doesn't want to harm the new treaty. Otherwise she's in denial.

  2. Nanne, since there has been no information on when a consolidated treaty is going to be published, one has to guess.

    My guess is that the European Council - miscalculating badly - has put the lid on.

    I tend to believe that Ms Wallström really wants to open up the Union (Commission) to citizens, but when I asked the Commission has no consolidated text and does not know if and when such a text might be published. (On my Swedish blog today.)

    I have written about the other institutions as well as proposed and existing rules in posts prior to this one.

  3. There is an alternative: Free Europe Constitution. Easy to read. Vote Yes or No at!

  4. Ananymous, if you want to discuss, you could present your own reasons and, preferably, yourself.

    Everybody, regardless of their views on the ratification processes, should demand correct, full and user-friendly information on the proposed amending treaties.


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