Treaty of Lisbon ‘must not fail’

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

The Treaty of Lisbon represents the abandonment of the “constitutional concept” whereby the current EU treaties would have been replaced by a single text, writes Marianne Dony for the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Dony’s contribution features in a new work entitled “After the Lisbon reforms: The new European treaties”, set to be published in January 2008. 

The author states that the Treaty of Lisbon is in many ways simply a “modifying treaty” creating a new “hybrid” of the current treaties. “Everything associated with a constitution has disappeared”, including references to the primacy of EU law and the Union’s symbols, she adds. 

Nevertheless, Dony describes the treaty as “the end of the pillar system” in that it “explicitly recognises” the legal personality of the ‘European Union’ itself, bringing an end to complicated references to the ‘European Communities’. In fact, references to a “European Community” are entirely absent from the new text. 

Moreover, she believes the treaty strengthens the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ by making the division of competences between the EU and its member states abundantly clear. 

The author insists that the Treaty of Lisbon creates “a more democratic Union” in three main ways: 

  • It strengthens the role of national parliaments in an article specifically stating that they must be directly informed of all legislative proposals and EU accession applications. 
  • It extends the powers of the European Parliament, principally by making co-decision the EU’s “normal legislative procedure”, including over the budget. 
  • Citizens can request the Commission to propose legislation by collecting a million signatures. 

Dony remarks that the treaty “significantly extends” the Council’s powers, particularly by increased use of qualified majority voting, but cautions that “it remains to be seen” how the new Council president will interact with his Commission counterpart and the High Representative for foreign affairs. 

The author warns that the ratification process will be “arduous”, describing the adoption of this treaty as “a chance that must not be missed” after the failure of the previous one. 

Dony concludes that it is regrettable that the Treaty of Lisbon fails to provide possible solutions in the event of non-ratification by some member states, and warns that “another failure could “definitively” bring European integration to a standstill. 

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