Monday 26 January 2009

Åland: Lisbon Treaty

If deliberation is part of democracy, the Åland Parliament belongs to a European regional master class. Thirteen months have passed since the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, nine months since the President of Finland Tarja Halonen formally proposed approval of the amending treaty to the regional parliament.

The Finnish Parliament approved the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008, and the ratification instrument has been deposited in Rome. Even latecomer Sweden has managed to ratify the new EU treaties.

In other words, if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, it will bind Finland and neighbouring Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark, but it is still unclear if it will apply to Åland in between (to the extent that questions are within the remit of the autonomy).

In the Åland Islands the matter remains at the committee stage. No committee report has been published and it is impossible to get an answer as to when this might happen or when the plenary might make a decision either for or against approval of the Lisbon Treaty.

Ten out of thirty local legislators are enough for a negative outcome, which would lead to a highly interesting situation.


Gibraltar seems to be in the same category. I have been unable to uncover information about if and when the local Parliament might deal with the Lisbon Treaty, but I would be grateful if someone has information to offer the readers of this blog.

In the member state league, the Czech Council Presidency, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the Irish voters are still among the political stumbling blocks, whereas the German Constitutional Court has at least announced two days for hearings a fortnight from now.


The unanimous conclusion and ratification of treaties has proven to be highly rewarding for obstructionists. They have created a Europe in their image.

Ralf Grahn


  1. You say:
    The unanimous conclusion and ratification of treaties has proven to be highly rewarding for obstructionists. They have created a Europe in their image.

    The requirement for unanimity followed from the conception of the EU as a "community of equals".

    The abandonment of that idea is in full flow, but because neither the politicians nor the euro-fanatics know how to "sell" that to the electorates of the nation-states, they prefer to pretend that it is not happening.(No, Ralf, I am not referring to you).

    Unfortunately for them, their notion of the voters as stupid is not as correct as it needs to be for this to work.

    I have yet to see any persuasive evidence that *any* national electorate would ratify Lisbon if given the chance.

    After all, even the Irish "No" voters are more pro-EU than the EU average.

  2. Fergus,

    Thank you for your comment.

    The world we live in is moving in a direction where we EU citizens need more Europe, if we want to be secure and prosperous.

    The logic of international treaties is ill adapted to these realities.

    The main obstructionists, in my view, are to be found among national political leaders and their followers, whose lack of vision is harming our fundamental interests.

    The Lisbon Treaty is their creation; a little bit weaker than the Constitutional Treaty, which was somewhat less than the draft Constitution. But even the European Convention dared not propose a Europe based on its citizens.

    Can any organisation prosper, if it is led by those who have the lowest ambition?

    A Europe of 27 Heads of State or Government is where we are heading - even without the Lisbon Treaty.

    For me, the Lisbon Treaty is a dilemma.

    Eight years have been wasted since the Nice Summit. The Lisbon Treaty would bring some improvements and added clarity.

    Qualified majority voting in the Council and the enhanced role of the European Parliament are the main improvements, in my view, although the crucial areas are still reserved by the member states, to the detriment of our common interests.

    The so called institutional innovations, on the other hand, point in the wrong direction. Notably the co-opted President of the European Council.

    The High Representative would bring some coherence to the execution of foreign policy / external action, if the member states have been able to agree. But he or she would still be 'elected' by an electorate of 27.

    My notion of equality is one between citizens, not primarily between states. My vote would be as important as the vote of a German or Slovenian.

    After this soul-wrenching, let me put a question to you.

    What are your arguments for the superiority of living under the Treaty of Nice?

  3. the majority doesn't want any political integration

    only fascists and people who hate democracy such as grahnlaw love the EU


  4. I have difficulty with the notion of life under Nice being superior to anything !

    However, to me - and please note that I do not claim to be representative of anyone - Lisbon is yet another step away from an EU which is democratically accountable.

    Comparisons with the Soviet Union are unfair, but are not without some validity. As I am sure you know, the SU Constitution read very well on paper and Soviet citizens could vote on many, many, things, but not on the form of government and not the identity of those who took the union-wide decisions.

    The U.S. is similar as to the former but not the latter.

    The EU is already much closer to that Soviet paradigm and Lisbon would push us further along that line.

    The only way I can see to resist is by refusing any further steps until action - we have had plenty of fine words e.g. at Laeken - is taken to democratise the Union before it is too late.

  5. Try not to use the American Federalist model for Europe, Being from there, Europe has an opportunity to do something better than the U.S.A. The culture of Europe is richer in it's diversity that there. Centralist government is only beneficial to politicians, not to the citizens of each respective state.

    It is almost a given that given the choice the Citizens of every country would reject Lisbon. That is the very reason that it was not allowed. With exception by a fluke of Irish Law did it ever come to a vote, and in stark contrast, the Irish now represent all the Citizens of Europe.

    The U.S. underwent a bloody revolution when they moved from a loose confederacy to the current Federal model. Don't fall into the trap. Lisbon is a bad Idea, find a better one!

  6. Fergus,

    If by democratic accountability you mean real democracy at European level (in the spirit of the Laeken declaration), we share the same basic aims.

    That said, I guess that burying the Lisbon Treaty (and its many minor improvements) would put the national European leaders off reforming the EU even more than if the treaty enters into force.

  7. Branedy,

    I live in a fairly small member state, but I am not especially worried about the end of cultural and linguistic diversity any time soon.

    As an EU citizen I see the need for an effective, democratic and solidary European Union for our security and prosperity.

  8. Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog

    Sandro Heckler

  9. @Sandro Heckler

    You can subscribe to the RSS stream of blog posts. You find me on Twitter @RalfGrahn.


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