Monday 16 June 2008

Lisbon Treaty: Entry into force

Is the EU Treaty of Lisbon dead after the Irish referendum and possible later drop-outs? This is what Article 6 of the Lisbon Treaty says (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/134):

Article 6 Treaty of Lisbon

1. This Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of the Italian Republic.

2. This Treaty shall enter into force on 1 January 2009, provided that all the instruments of ratification have been deposited, or, failing that, on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step.


The words ‘all’ and ‘last’ speak for themselves. The original Lisbon Treaty is not going to enter into force, because the number of ratifying states (in practice 18 already) is going to be 26 or less.

In its present form, the Treaty of Lisbon is legally dead.

The automatic consequence is that the current treaties are in force, as amended by the Treaty of Nice and the Accession Treaties.


Ireland has spoken. Since the referendum genie is out of the bottle, only the Irish voters can either approve a different arrangement or (improbably) relinquish the use of referendums by amending the Constitution.

The matter is complicated by the fact that there is scant evidence of Irish concerns, which are a factual part of the Lisbon Treaty or could be assuaged by palliative measures. There are few legal instruments available to dispel disenchantment, myths or various individual worries, especially when many of them are outside the scope of the treaty (or any conceivable replacement).

In these circumstances it would be futile to serve the Irish electorate a second helping of the same dish.

Stalemate on the Irish front.


Is Europe paralysed, too, doomed to petrify within the constraints of the Treaty of Nice?

Ralf Grahn

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