Sunday 20 July 2008

EU reform without the Lisbon Treaty? Justice and Home Affairs

What if the Treaty of Nice remains the foundation of the European Union in the foreseeable future? Can reforms of the Lisbon Treaty be salvaged on the basis of the existing treaties?

Professor Steve Peers has written a new Statewatch Analysis on one of the important fields of the amending treaty, the area of freedom, security and justice as it is known in EU parlance, but with the British more accustomed to call it justice and home affairs (JHA).

‘Changing the institutional framework for EU Justice and Home Affairs law without the Lisbon Treaty’ (July 2008; 9 pages) looks at the possibilities to amend the existing treaty rules on JHA decision-making rules and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, without a fully-fledged amendment to the treaties:

Peers concludes that the member states – acting unanimously – could achieve similar, but not identical results as under the Treaty of Lisbon through the existing ‘passerelle’ or enabling clauses.


Peers has made a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Treaty of Lisbon through a number of Statewatch Analyses covering both treaties, available at the Statewatch Observatory on the EU Constitution-Reform-Lisbon Treaty.

Readers interested in justice and home affairs law are advised to look at ‘Analysis no 1.3: JHA provisions’ concerning the general framework.

If relevant to the reader, ‘Analysis no 4: British and Irish opt-outs from EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) law’ sorts out the complications.

Peers has described the general possibilities to ratify the Lisbon Treaty after the Irish rejection, or at least to implement the reforms in practice, in ‘Can the Treaty of Lisbon be ratified or implemented? A legal analysis’ (19 June 2008).


Individual JHA Articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) have also been compared with the current treaty provisions, the draft Constitution and the Constitution in posts on this blog, with references to additional sources.

Ralf Grahn


  1. I am not a lawyer and I do not know the technicalities of the matter about JHA and EU treaties. However I hope other Europeans will understand a more general point which I think is being undervalued by them.

    I am talking about organised crime and the fact that most European countries have no idea of what is the power of Italian organised crime and how it is working for rising its network to an European dimension.

    I think the problem is that many Europeans do not know very much how it works in Italy, how it was able to spread trough the whole country linking itself to industrial powers and pervading many political administrations. I think most Europeans do not perceive the problem because their countries has never experienced it, I mean that there is a deep difference between ordinary crime acted by individuals or small groups of people... and criminal organisations with thousands of members a strong internal discipline (based on death threat) the capacity of penetrating territories and politics... and this is the dimension of the problem, really, its not fiction!

    Thinking that this is just Italian stuff will not save Europeans...

    Italian organised crime is actively building an European base of criminal power and without a really strong Europol and Eurojust capable of cutting it to its roots, it will grow in Europe in the same way as it have done in Italy.

    In Italy the organised crime exploited territorial differences to build a solid base in those regions where the rule of law was weaker. Then it started to grow in the other regions first presenting its self with a "clean" business face and then moving to its core businesses (drugs, prostitution, racket and so on).

    Slowly, slowly in the last 50 years it pervaded many of the political institutions.

    The strategy now is the same, using Italy as its base for penetrating the other European States. Personally I think it will just be a matter of time...

    I know that probably many Europeans will think that this will never happen to them because they are not Italians but this was the same mistake that people from the north of Italy did in the past when they thought (and they still think) to be intrinsically better of people in the south. This attitude brings to a systematic undervaluation of the problem and of the risk involved which is one of the main causes of its continues growing.

  2. Giacomo,

    Free movement within the European Union is a wonderful thing, but you are right in that cross-border crime is one of the 'sectors' able to spread more easily.

    The Lisbon Treaty would go some way towards better police cooperation, although the more recalcitrant governments have put some brakes on.

  3. Hi both, I advise all those interested to read Roberto Saviano's book "Gomorra". I have read a few books on organised crime and I knew about Italian maffia but this book was a real eyes opener!


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