Lisbon treaty and the failure of the Irish referendum

The success of the Lisbon Treaty required the ratification of all the member states of the European Union. The failure of this treaty brought to the fore, the necessity for legislation that would change the system being followed in the EU. The EU institutions and their function are limited to the scope of operation permitted by the existing legislation. In order to expand their operational scope, there should be a more extensive piece of legislation which provides a base for them to expand their function. The existing structures of the EU institutions had been established in the past, when the size of the Union was small (Curtin and Ryan 2008).

The present Union comprises of twenty – seven Member States, and is still expanding. At this juncture, new legislation and legal foundation are essential to regulate the ever increasing responsibilities of the EU. As such, every Member State is required to enact such legal authority for the EU. Moreover, it is also important to determine the democratic viability of such new mechanisms. The Irish referendum is a landmark event in the history of the European Union, and it serves as the basis for these new requirements and responsibilities. Moreover, it will also decide the future of the European Union (Curtin and Ryan 2008).

            The heads of state and the government of the European Union signed the Treaty of Lisbon on the 13th of December 2007, at Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The fundamental objective of the treaty was to introduce a new voting procedure in the Council by reforming the existing procedure and thereby streamlining the decision – making process of the European Union. The other objectives include the reduction of the size of the Commission and improving the participation of parliament of the Member States in the Commission. The Treaty proposed to establish new posts such as the Council President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security (Ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon 2008).

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            The Treaty of Lisbon aims to transform the European Union into a global geopolitical entity that would represent the Member States on international platforms. Furthermore, its chief objective is to compete with the United States at the global level. In order to achieve that goal, it was decided that all the Member States should adopt the same perception and approach towards international policies and affairs. In other words, there should be only one voice or opinion, regarding the intentions of the EU and its Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon proposes the creation of a new post of European foreign minister who will have considerable powerful, while taking decisions relating to international policies. It also establishes a post of European President, the European diplomatic corps, European embassies and a single European army (Kern 2008).

            There were several factors, which contributed to the failure of the Lisbon Treaty. First, it lacked a logical reasoning behind its aims; secondly, most people were still under the impression that the treaty was yet another regulatory initiative within the European Union. Thirdly, the content and objectives of the treaty lacked clarity and were criticized for being obscure. All these factors ultimately resulted in failure to motivate people and heads of governments within the EU. Moreover, the treaty created an environment, in which most of them believed that they would be deprived of voting in the Council (The Lisbon Treaty Failure: Getting back to Basic Frames 2008).

In this paper, the events leading up to the Lisbon Treaty, the reasons behind its rejection by the Irish, the consequent effects and what could have persuaded the Irish to ratify it. Despite, its rejection by the Irish, the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty is proceeding vigorously and Ireland, after requesting for additional time to review its referendum, is to attend the Council summit meeting in the month of October 2008.

The Lisbon treaty is not a newly drafted treaty, and can be described as a combination of several amendments to the European constitution. It also contains various references to the previous treaties and their annexures. However, it is devoid of controversial or contradictory principles as these were carefully excised from the final draft. The drafters of the treaty had undertaken a novel method, by which they had separated the various reforms to the constitutional treaty and grouped them in several distinct texts. In this manner, most of the innovations were made less visible (Dauré and Guillemin 2008).

The intention was to enact important dispositions as amendments to the Maastricht and Nice treaties, and to categorize all the technical innovations as harmless treaty provisions. The entire text was to be subsequently submitted to the Parliaments of the various Member States for ratification. The important aspect of the whole process was that the pubic who would vote for the ratification of the treaty would not notice the dispositions that were included as separate texts to the treaty. There was every possibility that if these dispositions were to be presented directly, they would not be accepted. This constituted a devious procedure to get the treaty ratified. The text of the treaty is 267 pages long, and the annexures take up another 3,000 pages. At this juncture, the process adopted in the ratification of the previous treaties, during the integration of Europe, becomes suspect (Dauré and Guillemin 2008).

This Treaty was rejected by Ireland, which conducted a referendum in this context. In order to be enacted, it was imperative for all Member States to enact it. Hence, the Irish referendum became crucial for the EU. Despite the fact that this rejection was based on domestic reasons, its effect was not limited to Ireland, and constituted an important decision at the EU level. Although, this was a bureaucratic decision, it drew the attention of European citizens who were required to ratify the new treaty (Ahaeuser 2008).

Ireland was not the only nation that was against the provisions of this treaty. There was a distinct possibility that this treaty would be opposed by the nationals of other countries. For instance, a majority of the British, Polish, French, Dutch, Czech, and Germans were likely to follow in the footsteps of the Irish. Thus, the Lisbon Treaty became dilemmatic, and difficult to be ratified (Ahaeuser 2008).

The Irish rejection had a negative impact on the EU’s functionality. Ireland had its specific reasons for rejecting the treaty and a majority of its citizens had demanded that Ireland should reject the treaty. This served to hinder the process of enhancing democratization in the decision making process of the European Union. The European Parliament comprises of representatives who are directly elected by the citizens. The Lisbon Treaty promotes their role in the EU legislation process, and it also strengthens the budget of the Parliament and other international agreements entered into by it (Ahaeuser 2008).

The Lisbon Treaty on ratification would have established a process termed the Citizens’ Initiative. Under this program, one million citizens from the Member States would have been provided with the opportunity to propose new policies to be implemented by the Commission. This treaty would implement simpler procedures and initiatives, such as improving voting rules. It would introduce qualified majority voting in policy matters, and it would rescind the unilateral vetoes of the present system. This treaty proposes a streamlined decision-making process in the EU. The ultimate aim of the Lisbon Treaty is to establish a system in which all the twenty-seven Member States would act in a concerted manner and speak in one voice. This is what the Lisbon Treaty will engender on being ratified and enacted (Ahaeuser 2008).

Some authorities contend that if the Irish public had ratified the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum, then there would have been a greater impact on the EU in terms of democracy and transparency. This would have enabled the European Parliament to act with renewed vigour. In addition, there would have been a greater degree of participation by the Member States in the EU’s functions. The European citizens directly elect the members of the European Parliament (Evans 2008).

The Lisbon Treaty would provide it with greater power in the law making process in the EU. It would also provide the EU Parliament with enhanced power over the budget and in international agreements. Furthermore, the Citizens Initiative is a new concept which allows one million European Union citizens to direct the Commission to come up with policy proposals. In this manner the new Treaty could have made the EU more unified and accessible to the citizens of Europe (Evans 2008).

The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Ireland has caused considerable difficulties for the EU. At this juncture, the EU cannot attempt a re – negotiation with Ireland, analogous to the manner in which it did in 2002, during the Nice treaty ratification. This is because the situation is far more complicated and such endeavours could result in isolating several Member States. The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has indicated that it is keen to retain its independence, rather than surrender it to the leaders in Brussels  (Gow 2008 ).

            In the extant system, there is a member from each of the Member States in the Commission, and in 2009 a new Commission will come into force, which will be in existence for the next five years. This new Commission will comprise of a representative nominated by each Member State in the Union. Under the proposed Lisbon Treaty’s system, there will be a Commissioner who will be nominated by a two – thirds majority of the total Member States. This new Commissioner’s post will be implemented from the year 2014, provided the Treaty is ratified by all the Member States (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

The present number of Member States in the EU is 27. According to the new Treaty, there will be 18 Commissioners nominated by the Member States from 2014 to 2019, or two – thirds of the Member States, will nominate a Commissioner, at any point of time. The Member States will have the right to nominate a Commissioner. However, this right is to be shared between them on a rotation basis. Such nomination of members to the Commission is applicable for two out of every three Commissions. The Lisbon Treaty creates a new post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. One of the Commissioners would hold that post (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

The Lisbon Treaty aims to introduce several new procedures within the Council of Ministers. In the existing system, the decision making process of the Council is held in private. On a few occasions it has conducted debates on policy matters in public. However, this situation is to change with the new Treaty. The meetings of the Council will be conducted in public, during the course of making legislation (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

The Council will conduct public debates, prior to approving new legislation. At present, the Council takes important decisions unanimously. It utilizes the process of qualified majority voting for some decisions. The vote of each Member State is attributed a particular weight in the system of qualified majority voting, and this weight is not proportionate to that Member State’s population (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

Under this weighted system, some of the smaller nations enjoy a higher share that is not proportionate to the population in their country. The Lisbon Treaty attempts to change this situation. It will extend the qualified majority voting system to several areas of the EU system; and increase the scope of application of the qualified majority voting, by including more areas under its ambit. Moreover, the treaty would also change the system of qualified majority voting that takes place in the Council, with effect from the year 2014 (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

The existing procedure of qualified majority voting covers several aspects of importance. Some of the major issues that are covered by this arrangement are agriculture policies, the common market and its competition rules, protection of consumers’ rights, and environment and judicial cooperation in civil matters. The Lisbon Treaty proposes to broaden the application of qualified majority voting to new areas, which had been overlooked previously, such as energy, asylum provision, immigration, sports, and judicial cooperation between member states in criminal matters. However, it does not extend to some areas, like defense and taxation, which enables the individual Member States to veto changes in those sectors (The Lisbon Treaty n.d.).

The new treaty also specifies that the EU and the Member States have joint competence in several fields. This joint competence applies to the internal market, agriculture, environment, energy, and consumer safety. The Lisbon Treaty empowers the EU to intervene in areas like health, industry, culture, education and tourism policies of the Member States (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

In addition to this, the Lisbon treaty provides joint competence for Member States and the EU to act in a concerted manner in several new areas such as energy and environmental protection. Therefore, the Lisbon Treaty does not provide exclusive competence to the EU, and this marks a departure from the present scenario. Ireland exercised its opt out privilege, in order to reject the Lisbon Treaty, because it does not want to participate in or be bound by the decisions that are made in the area of freedom, security and justice. These are critical areas, which cover policy matters relating to asylum, immigration, border controls and judicial cooperation in criminal matters with the EU. Moreover, Ireland and the United Kingdom had been permitted to choose whether to involve themselves in specific issues (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

In the year 1999 some specific areas came under the remit of the EU and from that time onwards, Ireland and the United Kingdom had entered a special agreement with the EU. This arrangement permits these two nations to exercise opt in or opt out choices in the decision making process in some areas. However, Ireland had generally been acquiescing to the decisions in several areas, for example in judicial cooperation and asylum; while refraining from doing so in areas like border control policies (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The Lisbon Treaty allows Ireland to continue with this opt out arrangement. The proposed amendment to the Constitution would make it mandatory, for any opt in decision by Ireland, to be approved of by the Dáil and Seanad. Moreover, any opt out decision by Ireland would require the approval of the Dáil and Seanad (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

Moreover, this Treaty protects the status of churches and other religious communities and associations of the Member States. However, such status is subject to national legislation of the Member States, in which they are established. The EU would respect and protect the status of philosophical organizations and other non-religion based organizations under the national law of the Member States. Therefore, the Lisbon Treaty aims at maintaining open and transparent negotiations with the religious and non-religious organizations. In addition, the Treaty proclaims that it would protect the cultural, religious and humanist heritage of Europe (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The new office of Common Foreign and Security Policy deals with EU’s foreign and defense policies. The principal decisions to be made in this area require unanimity. The proposed amendments to the Constitution would preserve the existing methods and systems, in respect of Ireland’s military neutrality (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The proposed Lisbon Treaty imposes a duty on Member States, according to which, they have to provide financial and other assistance to a Member State that had suffered due to armed conflict. Furthermore, this duty requires them to follow the guidelines established by the UN Charter and their assistance must comply with the provisions therein. However, the Treaty remained silent about the nature of such aid and assistance (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

It also requires the presence of mutual assistance between the Member States in all areas. Such mutual assistance should not impede the character and purposes of the security and defense policies of the Member States that follow the type of security and defense systems inherent in Ireland’s policy on neutrality. Thus, the Member States are under an obligation to provide assistance to other Member States that have been subjected to terrorism or armed rebellion in their country. This also applies to natural disasters and manmade hazards. Furthermore, this Treaty upholds the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The Lisbon Treaty proposes that the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be accorded the same priority like the main treaties. The EU had recognized certain civil, political, social and economic rights through the Charter of Fundamental Rights. These rights are categorized under Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights, and Justice. In addition to these rights there are additional specific principles; which are applicable to specific groups such as the aged, children and disabled persons (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The Treaty proposes that the Charter of Rights will be applicable to all the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies; and that it will also apply to the Member States. However, the Charter did not expand the area of application of EU law. In addition, it does not provide new competence to the EU in its operation (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The Fundamental Rights, established by the Charter are not absolute in nature. They are already present in the European Convention on Human Rights or the ECHR; and the EU law covers some of these rights. A few of the principles of the Charter are nothing more than mere statements and do not constitute any specific right. Other rights are subject to the national laws of the Member States (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

In other words, such rights must be in accordance with the domestic legislation of the Member States and they should be regulated by it. The effect of the Charter can be assessed only by outcome of the rights invoked. The ECHR had been ratified by all the Member States of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty makes it mandatory for the EU to comply with the provisions of the ECHR. The EU must accede to the ECHR and such accession should be reflected in its activities. This would facilitate individuals, whose rights had been violated by the EU, to approach the European Court of Human Rights or the ECtHR (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The Lisbon Treaty was rejected by the Irish citizens, in a referendum conducted on the 12th of June 2008. According to the EU rules, if any Member State refuses to ratify a proposal made by it, then it cannot implement such a proposal. Thus, in order to implement any proposal, there should be a unanimous ratification by all the 27 Member States of the EU. Other Member States have followed suit. For instance, although, the Czech parliament had ratified the Lisbon Treaty, in the referendum, the Czechs suspended the parliamentary ratification. Consequently, the ruling of the constitutional court was kept in abeyance (BBC NEWS 2008).

In Poland, the President himself refused to accede and ratify the treaty. According to him, the Lisbon Treaty was pointless. The Lisbon Treaty was proposed as an alternative to the failed draft European Constitution. It was prepared in December 2007 in Lisbon the capital of Portugal. The draft European Constitution was rejected by the French and Dutch voters in the year 2005. The Lisbon Treaty was proffered, in order to supplant this rejected European Constitution (BBC NEWS 2008).

The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has generated considerable opposition in the EU. This rejection has the possibility to influence future projects in the EU and to determine the future of Europe as a whole. It represents the hopes and fears of the citizens of Europe. The Irish rejection has engendered a degree of uncertainty in Europe, and kindled fears regarding the depletion of confidence in democracy (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

This Irish rejection posed a serious threat to European integrity by establishing unequivocally that the individual Member States are fond of their national identity. The Irish rejection reflects the fact that Member States are not willing to surrender their national sovereignty to the EU and its leadership (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

The fifty year old European Union has faced a new challenge with this incident, and it has rendered the EU highly determined to regain its lost power and prestige. The EU strongly subscribes to the belief that the nation – state is responsible for social and political conflicts, and the present discriminations. The EU was established, in order to integrate all the states in Europe. Since then, it has become very powerful by absorbing as many states as it can into itself (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

Several nations were deprived of their identity, and the ultimate goal of the EU is to establish a federal state in Europe. The EU harmonized the politics, law, business, trade, economy and culture of its Member States; and centralized them under its umbrella (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

In the political journey of the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty constitutes a major milestone. It is the contention of some that this could be the final step. If the EU had been successful in this effort, then it would have established a political structure in Europe that could have been designated as the United States of Europe. This continent empire would have constituted a legal entity with all the sovereign powers. The Member States would have remained as constituent nation – states. They would have been reduced from their sovereign status, to regions in that continent empire (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

The Lisbon Treaty was prepared by the experts in Brussels; and it had not been accessed by any individual or national leader of the Member States. The text of the Lisbon Treaty is in French and it is 500 pages in length. There are just a few English versions of the Treaty available, and it is replete with Euro – jargon. This makes it difficult for the layman to comprehend. The Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, while declaring that he could not understand the import of the draft of the Lisbon Treaty, recommended its ratification (Pryce-Jones 7/14/2008, P22-26).

The Irish people successfully rejected the proposed Lisbon Treaty. The ultimate aim of the EU was to transform the continent of Europe into the United States of Europe and to realize this objective; it was determined to implement the Lisbon Treaty. The rejection was indeed a success for Ireland. All sections of society in Ireland joined hands to defeat the proposed treaty in the referendum. The Irish government had been sanguine about the Lisbon Treaty being accorded acceptance in the referendum (Cheers to the Irish 7/14/2008, p16-16).

There are eight reasons for the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Ireland. First, the proposed Treaty would create the posts of President of Europe and Foreign Minister of Europe. Incumbents to these two posts are not elected directly by the Member States. Persons to these posts are appointed through the process of qualified majority voting, conducted by the Council (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

The duties and responsibilities, and the terms and conditions that are applicable to these posts have not been described with any degree of clarity by the Treaty. The individuals in these posts will carry out the agenda of the Council and the decisions that had been taken by the Council. The President would be accorded with diplomatic status and allotted a palace and a jet plane for conducting his tours (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

Second, the Lisbon Treaty would cut down the weighting vote of Ireland by half. At the same time it would double the weight of the German vote in the qualified majority voting. The proposed Treaty implements a new system of voting by the Council, which depends on the size of the Member State. At present, Ireland has a voting weight of 2% which would be reduced to 0.8%; and the present German weight is 8%, which would be increased to 17% if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

            Third, the Lisbon Treaty would abolish the Irish Commissioner for a period of five years in a round; and the number of Commissioners would be reduced by two thirds of the number of Member States. This reduction will be carried out on the basis of a rotation formula. Moreover, under this proposal, Ireland may not find a seat for five years in a cycle of fifteen years. The Commissioners are essential in establishing the legality of any piece of legislation. Ireland is a small country and it would get affected by this proposal to a much greater extent than the other Member States (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

Fourth, the Lisbon Treaty would increase the tax –regimes and influence other economic aspects. In order to avoid the distortion of competition, Article 113 of the treaty requires the European Council to reform the tax – regimes of Member States and in particular indirect taxes. It proposes the creation of a common consolidated tax regime, and the French government would oversee the consolidated tax base. Under this arrangement, Ireland would have a much weaker voice in European matters. This is due to the fact that Ireland would not have a permanent Commissioner, and its voting weight would be reduced to half. All these factors would pose a threat to the tax competence of Ireland (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

 Fifth, the Lisbon Treaty increases the number of decision making areas under the purview of the EU. It repeals the present unanimity of decision making process and would introduce qualified majority voting (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

Sixth, the Lisbon Treaty provides exclusive competence to the EU over matters relating to International Trade and investments. The new Treaty makes these areas as part of common commercial policy. Foreign direct investments will come under the ambit of the EU along with the common commercial policy. The Irish strategies that attract large number of jobs to Ireland from other Member States would become part of this common commercial policy, and Ireland would not be able to attract foreign direct investments, as they would come under the purview of the EU (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

Seventh, the Lisbon Treaty would make the EU law enjoy a supreme status over Irish national law (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

            Lastly, Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty reforms the Irish Constitution and allows future changes without calling for referendums in Ireland. At present, any such change would require a referendum, prior to ratification. This is the Constitutional requirement in Ireland (Vote No to Lisbon n.d.).

The Cabinet and the Prime Minister had called upon the public to accept the Lisbon Treaty. The opposition Green Party joined them in this endeavour. In this effort, the Catholic Church and businessmen pleaded with the people to vote for the treaty. The media also made tremendous efforts to help in the acceptance of the treaty. Despite these efforts, the people voted against the Lisbon Treaty, and made it very clear that they were not in its favour (Cheers to the Irish 7/14/2008, p16-16).

Ireland is not a beneficiary of the EU, and instead, it makes financial contributions to the EU. This negative voting has several reasons behind it. One of them was that the agricultural policy of the new treaty would affect the interests of the farmers in Ireland. The other reason was fear of increased taxation. Ireland has a low – tax regime, and the new treaty would require it to increase taxes. There are twenty-seven member states in the European Union. All of these countries accepted the supremacy of the EU over their national sovereignty (Cheers to the Irish 7/14/2008, p16-16).

The principles of the Irish Constitution do not easily allow any change to the existing system. Under the constitutional requirement, there should be a referendum to incorporate any change to the constitution. Furthermore, the Irish citizens had already witnessed the experiences of other member states in the EU and the problems created due to acceding to the supremacy of the EU over domestic legislation. This knowledge was also a contributory factor for the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish had preserved their national independence, and had ensured that their hard won freedom was not surrendered to the EU (Cheers to the Irish 7/14/2008, p16-16).

            The leaders of the EU claim that they are taking every precaution, while building the European empire. Opponents to this Europeanization contend that the leaders in Brussels are diminishing the sovereignty of the Member States. To succeed in this endeavour, Brussels is establishing treaties in a successive manner. These arguments are correct from their respective perspective, and these Treaties accelerate the process of Europeanization. However, the after effects of Treaties can only be witnessed after some years have elapsed (What Lisbon contains 10/27/2007, p60-61).

Proponents of the Lisbon Treaty contend that the proposed treaty would democratize the functionality of the EU institutions and enhance their efficiency. They also argue that the new treaty would enhance the competence of the Council’s decision – making process. This new treaty would simplify the voting system in the Council and make it correspond to the size of the Member States. The Lisbon Treaty was to be made applicable from the year 2014, and it was to be effective till the year 2017. Moreover, it was expected to introduce a qualitative majority voting system in the Council of Ministers (What Lisbon contains 10/27/2007, p60-61).

In practical terms, the EU prefers to obtain the consensus of the Member States and it would rarely allow voting on certain specific issues. In the existing system, there are nearly fifty policy areas that are decided unanimously. In the proposed system, decisions in these areas would require majority voting. In matters relating to immigration, criminal justice and judicial cooperation, and the police, the role of the ECJ would be reduced. Furthermore, Ireland and the United Kingdom would be bestowed with the veto right, and they would have the right to opt in (What Lisbon contains 10/27/2007, p60-61).

The Lisbon Treaty creates a new post of fulltime president of the European Council. The president’s term is for two and half years, and the incumbent will be elected by the heads of the national governments. The term of the president will be renewable only for one more term, and the president would host four summits in a year. In addition, a foreign minister’s post would also be created, and this person would work for national governments as well as the European Commission. This foreign minister would represent the EU in international platforms (What Lisbon contains 10/27/2007, p60-61).

            The Treaty permits Member States to share information and resources and cooperate in matters pertaining to defense and security, between themselves. It legalizes the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and makes it applicable to all the European citizens. The Lisbon Treaty provides the right to strike and the right to access preventive healthcare, which had not been previously provided by the EU (What Lisbon contains 10/27/2007, p60-61).

The Lisbon Treaty is also known as the Reform Treaty, and it retained the important principles of the EU and the Constitution of the EU. These include the single legal personality of the EU; creating a permanent President for the EU; creating a permanent Public Prosecutor for the EU; and creating a new post of Foreign Minister. It expands the applicability of the qualified majority voting by extending its applicability to several new areas. As such, it increases the number of the decisions to forty new matters, in which the process of qualified majority voting is to be employed. These pertain to areas, such as foreign policy, energy, transportation, space, commercial policies, aid, sport, tourism, and investment (McNamara 2008).

It specifies that the EU is the only competent authority in matters pertaining to the EU as a whole. Thus, all the decisions must be made at the EU level, and no decision can be made at the national level. This competence is jointly shared between national governments and the EU. Although the national governments are entrusted with specific competence, the EU can intervene and provide its support, or assist them in matters requiring coordination (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

With regard to exclusive competence of the EU, the Lisbon Treaty asserts that the EU has exclusive competence in a wide range of areas. The EU has competence in the customs union, and it can exert this competence by setting out the competition rules to improve the spirit of the common market (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).

The European Union was formed on the basis of several treaties. These treaties had already established certain areas in which the EU could take decisions and formulate policies. The EU has no authority to decide on policy matters in areas other than those established by the treaties. This is the fundamental rule governing the EU.  The Lisbon Treaty clearly specifies this competence of the EU and determines the power of different actors in the EU and the areas, in which these actors can exert their power (Changes in EU Activities n.d.).


1.      Ahaeuser, Farina. The Failure of the Lisbon Treaty? – Consequences for Turkey’s Accession Process . June 28, 2008.  (accessed September 26, 2008). In this journal article, Farina Ahaeuser describes the European Union’s attempt to continue with the Lisbon Treaty, despite its near unanimous rejection by the Irish. This treaty would have made significant improvements to the European Constitution.

2.      BBC NEWS. Q&A: The Lisbon Treaty. July 01, 2008.  (accessed September 26, 2008).This BBC expose, talks about the failed attempt by the EU to usher in a European Constitution after its rejection, in the year 2005, by the French and the Dutch. This article describes the various options available to the EU to enact a constitution for Europe.

3.      Changes in EU Activities.  (accessed September 26, 2008). This article describes the various areas in which changes would have been engendered by the Lisbon Treaty, in respect of the policies and activities of the EU.

4.      “Cheers to the Irish.” National Review, 7/14/2008, p16-16: Vol. 60 Issue 13; (AN 32823597). This National Review article contends that the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty at the hands of the Irish was brought about by a number of factors, like the dislike of the Irish to lose their hard won independence, fear that they would have to eschew their low tax regime and the fear that they would become contributors rather than beneficiaries.

5.      Curtin, J., & Ryan, J. (2008, June 13). The Lisbon Treaty and the Irish voter: democratic deficits. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from In this article, Curtin and Ryan discuss the background of the Lisbon Treaty’s failure and the proposals to renew it.

6.       Dauré, Laurent, and Dominique Guillemin. Lisbon treaty: EU democratic process in question. June 5, 2008.   (accessed September 26, 2008). This article contends that Lisbon Treaty is a mélange of amendments to the European constitution.

7.      Evans, Jill. The Treaty of Lisbon. (accessed September 26, 2008). This article deals with what would have transpired if the Irish had ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

8.      Gow, Kirsty. Europe after Lisbon . July 2 , 2008 .  (accessed September 26, 2008). This article contends that the failure of the Lisbon Treaty, emphasizes the necessity for Member States to have freedom regarding the manner and at what time they can implement European policy.

9.      Kern, S. (2008, June 16). Why Irish Voters Rejected the Lisbon Treaty. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from In this article, Kern, talks about the various aims of the Lisbon Treaty.

10. Pryce-Jones, David. “Before the Revolution.” National Review, 7/14/2008, P22-26: Vol. 60 Issue 13; AN 32823612. The objective of the Lisbon Treaty to transform European nations into a federal structure is described in this National Review article.

11. Ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon. (2008, February 12). Retrieved September 22, 2008, from Despite, its rejection by the Irish, the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty is proceeding vigorously and Ireland, after requesting for additional time to review its referendum, is to attend the Council summit meeting in the month of October 2008. These important developments are discussed in this article.

12. The Lisbon Treaty. Changes to how the EU is Governed.  (accessed September 26, 2008). There are several benefits that will be ushered in by the Lisbon Treaty, for instance, the erstwhile practice of arriving at Council decisions in private, will now change and all such decisions will be done in public. These and similar beneficial changes to the working of the EU are the subject matter of this article.

13. The Lisbon Treaty Failure: Getting back to Basic Frames. (2008, June 25). Retrieved September 22, 2008, from This article contends that the Lisbon Treaty’s failure in the Irish referendum was due to the fact that there had been a complete disregard to the emotional response of the public. This article contends that the Irish voted this treaty out, because they felt that it would engender lesser transparency and bring about further erosion of national sovereignty, while empowering the EU to a greater extent.

14. Vote No To Lisbon. Retrieved September 27, 2008, from  This hard hitting article elaborates upon the various valid reasons for the Irish to reject the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum.

15. “What Lisbon contains.” Economist, 10/27/2007, p60-61: Vol. 385 Issue 8552; (AN 27237359). This article discusses the accusation made by critics against the EU that it systematically erodes national sovereignty by introducing successive treaties. On the other hand those who support the Lisbon Treaty contend that this initiative will enhance the efficiency of the EU’s institutions, the decision making process in the EU and simplify its voting system.



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