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The Treaty of Lisbon Nearing Adoption?

October 13, 2009

It looks like the European Union (EU) is one step closer to making lemonade of the two lemons handed to them by France and the Netherlands in 2005. On October 2nd, Ireland, via referendum, voted in favor of the Treaty of Lisbon. This reversed the result of a similar vote in June 2008, which had a much less favorable outcome. The Treaty of Lisbon, also known as the Reform Treaty, is the result of the EU’s failed attempt at ratifying a proposed Constitution in 2005. Although several states accepted the EU Constitution, whether through parliamentary, referendum, or other measures, the ‘No’ results from referenda in France and the Netherlands essentially ended any chance for the document to take hold.

After a “period of reflection,” in June 2007 there began renewed efforts, catalyzed by the German EU Presidency, to find a way, if not by constitution,

 “to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action.”

 On December 13, 2007, the proposition on how this would be done was signed by the heads of the member states in Lisbon, Portugal. Thus the Treaty of Lisbon was born.

It should be noted that the Treaty of Lisbon is not a Constitution, but an amending treaty. Whereas the proposed Constitution would have nullified any prior EU treaties, the Treaty of Lisbon would amend the Maastricht Treaty and Treaties of Rome.  Nonetheless, it does retain many of the proposed changes from the EU Constitution.

The result of October 2nd guarantees nothing. Czech President Václav Klaus, an open critic of the Treaty of Lisbon, has been reluctant to give the final and deciding sign-off to make approval by the member states unanimous; furthermore, some Czech senators have mounted a legal probe to find if the Treaty is constitutional in the Republic. That said Ireland’s change of heart makes the lemonade a bit more palatable.

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