A DEBATE WITHIN THE EU: CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY VS. LISBON TREATY

upa-admin 07 Aralık 2014 1.920 Okunma 0
A DEBATE WITHIN THE EU: CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY VS. LISBON TREATY

1. Historical background of the Constitutional Treaty and Lisbon Treaty

After the big enlargement of the European Union in 2004,the structure of it was getting more complex. Because of this, the Constitutional Treaty signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 aimed to replace the founding treaties of the European Union with a European Constitution.Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a former French President (1974-1981) and the President of the Convention on the Future of Europe, says that “The draft constitution resulted from a political desire to simplify European institutions. It was about creating more democracy and transparency within the European Union.”(1) After the sign of the Constitution in 2004, before entering into force it had to be ratified by all member states, but because some states did not ratify it, the Constitution became a dream. In the following process, on 23 July 2007, a new intergovernmental conference took place in Lisbon to find an alternative to the constitutional Treaty and to proceed with the reforms.(2) In this conference, the leaders of the European Union gave up the Constitution, but they negotiated on areform treaty. This negotiation ended on 13 December 2007, with the Lisbon Treaty which entered into force on 1 December 2009, after having been ratified by all member states.

2. Their role for the European Integration

There are three main theories to define European Integration: Functionalism, Federalism and Functional-Federalism.(3) Mitrany’s Functionalism opposed to regional integration and world governance. He hated super-states. His main idea was to transfer functional tasks from national governments to international agencies. Spinelli’s Federalism supported a Constitutional break and federal constitution for united Europe to end nationalism, war and exploitation. For this, he led the initiative of the European Congress in 1948 that caused the Council of Europe as an intergovernmental club. Monnet’s Functional-Federalism aimed to restore economy on European scale (win-win) via controlling Germany and securing economic position of France. All of these three mentioned theories come together in one common topic: bringing the Europeans more together. If we consider “ceteris paribus” in case of the difference between the Constitutional Treaty and Lisbon Treaty, both of them are a step on common political identity. They tried to bring Europeans more closed to each other. For instance, today it is the European Parliament that elects the President of the European Commission. From this point of view, the Lisbon Treaty is an important intermediate step on the way from an economic community to a political union and from a union of governments to a union of citizens.(4) Also, as known that the foreign policy is an important area for the future integration process. The Lisbon Treaty brought the position of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, so it furthered another big step for the European Integration.

In the below statement, the member of the European Parliament Jan Kreutz and his assistant Jo Leinen argue that the Lisbon Treaty is an important step on the path to European Federalism.

Each treaty change brought us closer to fulfilling the visions of Altiero Spinelli and the other founders of the European federalist movement: a peaceful integration of nation states that for centuries had systematically ruined each other and forced the Europeans to suffer; a democratic and stable political system for the entire continent, based on federalist principles; the establishment of a Union of Citizens.

No previous treaty has brought us so close to the aim of a federal and democratic Europe as the Treaty of Lisbon: co-decision between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will be introduced as a general rule, the veto-powers of the member states will be reduced to a large extent, participatory democracy will be introduced, justice and home affairs will be communitarised and a quasi-foreign minister, supported by a European External Action Service, will be introduced.

In the past years – especially after the failed referendums in France and the Netherlands – many voices in Europe claimed that the European constitutional project had been defeated and that the federalist visions had failed. Although this is far from being the truth, too little was done to openly oppose this view. Federalists should play a role in explaining to people that this new Treaty is another step on the way towards a federal Europe and that a stronger European Parliament.”(5)

This common statement indicates that the Lisbon Treaty has brought a very suitable platform for the European integration for the sake of Federalists.

3. The main differences between the Constitutional Treaty and Lisbon Treaty?

Today, the Lisbon Treaty is seen as the continuity of the Constitutional Treaty because most of the debated institutional and policy reforms envisaged in the Constitution are included in the Lisbon Treaty. However, there are some differences between them.

The first difference is that a real loss was the reformulation of Article 1 of the Constitutional Treaty, which defined the European Union as a Union of states and citizens; however with the Lisbon Treaty, the European Unionwas founded on the will of the “High Contracting Parties”, the member states.(6)

The second difference is that the Constitutional Treaty tried to replace all previous treaties with a single text, but Lisbon Treaty just amended them.Because of this, it is also called as the Reform Treaty. We can see this difference from the subtitle of the Lisbon Treaty, too: “Lisbon Treaty: Amending the Treaty on European Union and The Treaty Establishing the European Community”. Today, the European Union has still two founding Treaties: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community.

The third difference according to Valery Giscard d’Estaing is that “The Convention which brought together representatives from the European Parliament and national parliaments, from the governments of member states, as well as from the European Commission. However, for Lisbon Treaty, the process was very different. It was the legal experts for the European Council who were charged with drafting the new text.”(7) From this point of view, we can say that the Constitutional Treaty was a common product of the European Parliament, national parliaments and Commission, but the Lisbon Treaty was a product of an expert group from the European Union Council. He also says that during the process of Convention, debates were public, but during the process of Lisbon Treaty, it is impenetrable for the public.

The final important difference is based on internal policies.The Treaty of Lisbon increased the European Union’s powers in the areas of: border control, asylum and immigration;judicial cooperation in civil matters;judicial cooperation in criminal matters;police cooperation.(8)

4. The main features of the Lisbon Treaty in terms of political and institutional reforms?

The Lisbon Treaty that came into force in 2009 is a reformation of the Constitutional Treaty, so it is not a constitution, but has a character that has constitutional power. It reformed many things within the European Union. For instance,

  • It fixed the number of the European Parliamentat 751.
  • It abolished the old pillar structure of the European Union so that it unified legal structure.
  • It brought two important positions in case of institution: the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and President of the European Council.
  • It abolished the old system of weighted voting within the Council.
  • It brought a new definition of qualified majority voting for decisions.

The Lisbon Treaty brought some benefits for European citizens, too. For instance, it brought a right for citizens to make a request to the Commission for it to propose a new initiative (“European citizens initiative”); or it led a diplomatic and consular protection for all European Union citizens when travelling and living abroad.(9)

The Lisbon Treaty introduced the Charter of Fundamental Rights into European primary law. The six chapters of the Charter cover the following aspects: individual rights related to dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, rights linked to citizenship status and justice.(10)

Furthermore, the Lisbon Treaty strengthened the Commission’s role as independent “referee” in economic governance because the Commission will have the possibility to issue direct warnings to member states whose economic policies are either inconsistent with the broad economic policy guidelines agreed by the Council or risk jeopardizing the proper functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).(11)

Finally, the Lisbon Treaty simplified the budgetary procedure, which made a real difference, clarifying roles and procedures. It is now subject to a type of co-decision procedure with a single reading plus conciliation.(12)

Hacı Mehmet BOYRAZ

 

References and Endnotes

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/valeacutery-giscard-destaing-the-eu-treaty-is-the-same-as-the-constitution-398286.html, (06.12.2014).
  2. http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/treaties/lisbon_treaty/ai0033_en.htm, (06.12.2014).
  3. The following information related to the theories were written from; http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/Political-Integration-EU/eu-2-print.pdf, (06.12.2014).
  4. http://www.federalist-debate.org/index.php/current/item/225-the-lisbon-treaty-what-next, (06.12.2014).
  5. http://www.federalist-debate.org/index.php/current/item/225-the-lisbon-treaty-what-next, (06.12.2014).
  6. http://www.federalist-debate.org/index.php/current/item/225-the-lisbon-treaty-what-next, (06.12.2014).
  7. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/valeacutery-giscard-destaing-the-eu-treaty-is-the-same-as-the-constitution-398286.html, (06.12.2014).
  8. http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/treaties/lisbon_treaty/ai0033_en.htm, (06.12.2014).
  9. MEMO/09/531, Brussels, 1 December 2009, page: 1
  10. MEMO/09/531, Brussels, 1 December 2009, page: 4
  11. MEMO/09/531, Brussels, 1 December 2009, page: 2
  12. MEMO/09/531, Brussels, 1 December 2009, page: 7

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