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The Making of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty

The Role of Member States


Edited By Finn Laursen

The European Union (EU) has gone through a number of treaty reforms since the establishment of the European Communities in the 1950s and the creation of the European Union by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The latest such reform is the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force in 2009.
In this book, a number of scholars explore the process of producing the Lisbon Treaty. The focus is on the role of member states, arguably the ‘masters of the treaty.’ Intergovernmental conferences have become the main setting for treaty reforms since the Single European Act (SEA) in the mid-1980s. This makes national preferences and inter-state bargaining important when new treaties are negotiated.
The Lisbon Treaty delineates a number of institutional changes. In the end the product has to be evaluated against the standards established at the outset. Will the treaty improve the efficiency, democratic legitimacy as well as the coherence of the Union’s external action, as the member states claimed it would? While the final text of the treaty leaves the EU with some new institutional possibilities, it also has its limitations, especially in the area of foreign and security policy.


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PART II THE ROLE OF GERMANY 39 A Symbolic Revocation of Symbolism The German Path from the EU Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty Hans J. LIETZMANN Introduction It was quite remarkable that the German government not only re- frained from passing a “constitution” or “constitutional treaty” in the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty, but also spearheaded the group of countries that openly proclaimed this constitutional abstention and forced through a purely technical version of the Lisbon Treaty during the German EU Council presidency. The full scope of this dramatic political reversal can perhaps only be seen by those that remember how much emphasis and energy Germany had previously put into the discus- sion on drafting a European “constitution,” and how much the necessity for a political “constitution” in Europe was likewise stressed in the country’s domestic politics. Under a German presidency, European policy adapted its agenda entirely towards consolidating the legitimacy of the European Union by means of a “constitution.” The presidency had thereby sought to permanently justify the EU’s growing influence on German domestic policies with the constitutional foundation and a “constitutional political re-establishment” of the EU. Recently, the European political process has spawned several diverse institutional concepts and political programmes for the organisational emergence of the European Union. These concepts yet again prove Ralf Dahrendorf’s early conclusion that the European Union is a large-scale “institutional experiment” (1973, 212), a work in progress. The Europe- an Union indeed constitutes a laboratory for institutional projects that are rooted in...

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