18 Dec The Lisbon Treaty Lives
It turns out that all is not lost for the Lisbon Treaty (aka the EU Reform Treaty). It had all the markings of an unperfected treaty after Ireland gave it a “no” vote this past summer via a referendum. (Interestingly, Ireland was the only state to hold one, since negotiators had designed the Reform Treaty to avoid such reviews given what they did to the EU Constitution.) Brussels, however, was undeterred by Irish resistance, despite the fact that all 27 EU Member States must approve the Lisbon Treaty for it to enter into force. It pressed on and has had success in getting other EU Member States to move forward with their own ratifications. Sweden said yes last month, leaving the Czech Republic, Poland, and Ireland as the only states yet to ratify. A few weeks ago, the Lisbon Treaty survived the scrutiny of the Czech Constitutional Court, clearing the way for an upper house vote there. In Poland all steps are complete but for the President’s signature on the instrument of ratification, which supposedly will come when/if the Irish problem is resolved. But the most promising sign of the Lisbon Treaty’s revival came with last week’s news that Ireland will hold a second referendum on that treaty in 2009:
Ireland is to be offered concessions on the EU reform treaty in the hope its voters will reverse their “No” verdict in a second referendum, diplomats said on Thursday. Exact details of the deal still had to be thrashed out by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels. But envoys from Ireland’s EU partners said they had reached agreement in principle giving Dublin assurances on the issues which prompted Irish voters to reject the treaty in June. . . . Ireland’s constitution requires approval in a referendum for ratification of the treaty. A draft document obtained earlier by Reuters suggested Ireland could hold a second referendum by the end of October 2009 if Dublin’s concerns could be addressed, notably on the retention of a permanent Irish seat in the European Commission. Other concerns which led to the Irish “No” vote are also addressed in provisional accord. They include respecting Ireland’s military neutrality and additional assurances on taxation policy and workers’ rights. “(Irish Prime Minister Brian) Cowen said he is ready to hold another referendum next year. He said there need to be 27 commissioners,” another diplomat said. The treaty would have reduced the number to 18.The draft document presented to EU leaders said: “In the light of the above commitments by the European Council, and conditional on the satisfactory completion of the detailed follow-on work by mid-2009 and on presumption of their satisfactory implementation, the Irish Government is committed to seeking ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the term of the current Commission.
4. The Commission appointed between the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and 31 October 2014 shall consist of one national of each Member State, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who shall be one of its Vice-Presidents.5. As from 1 November 2014, the Commission shall consist of a number of members including its President and the High Representatives of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, corresponding to two thirds of the number of Member States, unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this number. (emphasis added).