Wednesday 25 June 2008

Lisbon Treaty rescue operation

Daniel Gros and Sebastian Kurpas of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) have looked at the options for Europe after the Irish No vote. CEPS Policy brief No. 163 (June 2008) is available at:

‘What next? How to save the Treaty of Lisbon’ starts with an assessment of different options under debate. These are:

1. Abandon the Treaty of Lisbon and continue with the Treaty of Nice

2. Reopening negotiations on a new Treaty

3. Increased efforts on flexible integration

4. Implementation of those elements in the Treaty of Lisbon that do not require ratification

5. Temporary withdrawal of Ireland from the EU

6. Continuing the ratification process followed by a second Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

Gros and Kurpas then present what they call a feasible, legal and fair way ahead. Their Plan B proposes ratifying the consolidated treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon. This would entail a speedy re-ratification by the member states that already have ratified the original Lisbon Treaty.

The second Irish referendum would be about a different question: Does Ireland wish to join the EU with the Lisbon Treaty in force?


The essentials of the CEPS proposal are the same as put forward by this blog, namely to save the substance of the Treaty of Lisbon within a new European Union among the ratifying states.

Given the potential unravelling of the Lisbon Treaty in a number of countries (the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Poland) and the possibility that some might balk at the abandonment of the ‘liberum veto’, the authors are perhaps unduly optimistic in proposing mandatory ratification by 26 states.

In my view, the basic criteria should be that the ratifying states continue, but the treaty is open for later accessions, a customary procedure regarding international treaties.

Another difference is that Gros and Kurpas, focusing on the rescue of the Lisbon Treaty, do not enter into a discussion of the growing popular resistance against the European Union and the profound disillusionment spreading among pro-Europeans.

Without a solemn pledge to institute EU level democratic legitimacy and accountability, the European project is headed for failure. This blog argues that the European Council has to set a new course towards fundamental democratic reform if it wishes to avert a worse catastrophe than the ship-wreck of the Lisbon Treaty.

The missing link between governing and governed must be established in a manner suited to the 21st century.

Ralf Grahn

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