Friday 18 September 2009

What the Lisbon Treaty changes (for Ireland)

On Bloggers for Europe, Jason O’Mahony wrote a post called ”5 Reasons to vote yes including a polar bear. And the Da Vinci Code” (15 September 2009).

O’Mahony’s fourth point made the following statement about the Lisbon Treaty:

“It improves the EU in loads of technical ways which you really don't want me to list here. I mean, we'll get them for you if you want, but only if you promise to read them. There'll be a test.”


Unfazed by the humoristic vein, two readers asked to see the list (without promising to read it or to take part in the test).

Let me say that there is a wealth of information out there about the differences and similarities between the existing Treaty of Nice and the amending Treaty of Lisbon (including the novel Irish guarantees), but it may be better to take up the challenge by the readers than to allow the impression that the task is impossible.

If there is demand for a detailed view, it should be satisfied, although it is easy to see why the comments section of a blog post is not the ideal location.

The briefest detailed list I can remember is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO; London) Command paper 7311 “A comparative table of the current EC and EU Treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon” (January 2008).

For the technically inclined, the FCO managed to present the changes and similarities in telegraphic style on a mere 36 pages.


Having sifted through most of the amending Lisbon Treaty on my blog, Article by Article, I would say that the main issue concerning the Lisbon Treaty referendum is the following:

Do the Irish want to be fully engaged in a slightly improved and marginally more democratic European Union, as agreed between 27 national governments and approved by 26 national parliaments, or do they prefer to play into the hands of isolationist anti-European English Tories and UKIP Europhobes?

In addition to the institutional reforms and some substantial enhancements, the consolidated Lisbon Treaty improves the structure and readability compared to the Nice Treaty, by a more systematic approach and by cutting out deadwood, but that is primarily for the technically inclined.

Ralf Grahn


  1. Oh, come now, Ralf, you have no excuse for doubting that I'd read them or that I'd volunteer for the test, and I so confirm. But Jason has to do his work first :-)

  2. Fergus,

    I wanted to avoid pinpointing you or anyone else, but not naming the commenting readers, but I felt that you challenged Jason by demanding a list of 'technical' amendments, so I thought that later readers were left in the dark.

    Thus, I wanted to give them a short list including 'techical' changes.

    Your erudition and reticence are in no doubt ;-)


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