The new EU Treaty and the prospects for future integration

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

As European leaders prepare to sign the Treaty of Lisbon on 13 December, a new publication from the European Policy Centre (EPC) considers the outlook for the future of EU integration.

The 6 December publication explores how the EU can be turned from an “elite-driven project” into a “people’s” one, offering detailed analysis of the key issues currently facing the EU. It identifies the revised institutional balance, enhanced cooperation, the creation of a European public sphere and the implications of the Lisbon treaty for business among the most prominent of these. 

The EPC publication features contributions from a wide variety of figures including Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates and European Movement President Pat Cox. 

Sócrates describes the Lisbon Treaty as “a tool for improving the democratic accountability and efficiency” of the EU’s decision-making process.

Moreover, it gives “new impetus” to the Union’s energy and climate change strategies and responds to citizens’ demands for it to play “a more decisive role in world affairs and the fight against organised crime and terrorism”, the Portuguese prime minister adds. 

Pat Cox calls for “a new model of participative democracy” that shows citizens that the EU “offers an authentic political vision for a modern society and not only a platform for markets, economics and technocracy”. 

Cox fears that “the grand vision” of EU integration has slowly been eroded by an intergovernmental approach and the “increased assertiveness of national interests over […] the common European good.” 

Peter Sutherland, formerly both WTO director general and an EU commissioner, argues that the new treaty “falls far short of being a constitution”, so holding referenda to ratify it is “clearly neither democratically necessary nor desirable”. He speculates that those in favour of popular votes have a “destructive motivation”, particularly in the UK. 

Analysing the Lisbon Treaty’s implications for business, the EPC’s Fabian Zuleeg believes the difficulty in reaching agreement on contentious issues among the EU 27 during the negotiation process indicates a “future in which few ambitious projects are likely to be put on the table”. 

Zuleeg argues that “without a robust defence of the single market’s achievements and the […] positive effects of globalisation, there is a risk that economic integration could lose ground”. 

Other notable contributions come from MEP Richard Corbett and senior EPC figures. 

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