Saturday 28 June 2008

Lisbon Treaty: Reasons for ratification

Bartolus of the excellent EU Law Blog commented on the European Council conclusions after the Irish ’no’ vote:

‘As you can see from the “conclusions”, the result was well, err, inconclusive.’

Go to the post ‘Lisbon Treaty and European Council’ (21 June 2008), with the conclusions:

‘Students, academics, practitioners and anyone else who may be interested’ in the European Union is often left to find out the thinking behind and assessments of Council outcomes from independent sources.

Carl Fredrik Bergström, from Sieps (the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies), wrote his assessment before the European Council meeting (16 June 2008), but ‘Vad händer med Lissabonfördraget efter irländarnas nej?’ (What happens to the Lisbon Treaty after the Irish no?) sheds some light on post-referendum reasoning:

Bergström notes the formal stipulation of Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union and the possible conclusion to scrap the Treaty of Lisbon. However, such a conclusion would probably be too hasty, on two counts.

First, all the EU member states’ governments have seen the great need for amendments and they all support the amendments agreed in the Treaty of Lisbon. The problems do not disappear even if the Irish vote ‘no’.

Second, 800,000 Irish ‘no’ voters do not prove that the solutions agreed between the governments are bad or unwanted. On the contrary, the Lisbon Treaty can probably count on the support of national parliaments representing almost 500 million citizens.

It is reasonable to expect the remaining national parliaments to continue their ratification processes. Bergström then distinguishes between the situation where Ireland alone has rejected the Lisbon Treaty (and others move ahead, in one way or another) or if others join them (domino effect).

Bergström offers a preliminary outline of alternative solutions, in three batches:

1) Amendments without a new treaty.

2) Amendments or ‘adaptations’ in the connection of the next enlargement. New Irish position needed.

3) Later amendments (including those with deferred implementation according to the Lisbon Treaty). New Irish position needed.

Bergström’s batches sketch alternatives and outline thinking. A detailed analysis of different alternatives is offered by professor Steve Peers (Statewatch), mentioned in the 27 June 2008 post ‘Lisbon Treaty: Legal analysis of ratification, implementation and impact of non-ratification’:


The needs for EU reform have disappeared nowhere. States unwilling or unable to keep pace should actively search for solutions within their comfort zone and let the rest accomplish real EU reform.

Ralf Grahn

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