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The Making of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty

The Role of Member States

Series:

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 V: THE IRISH REFERENDUM

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PART V THE IRISH REFERENDUM 261 Ratification by Referendum How Ireland Changed from No to Yes Declan J. WALSH In the aftermath of Ireland’s June 2008 rejection of the Lisbon Trea- ty by referendum, there was much confusion as to the causes of the negative vote. This was exacerbated shortly afterwards by the publica- tion of a Eurobarometer poll indicating that Irish people held very positive attitudes towards membership of the European Union. This chapter charts the political and legal response of the Irish gov- ernment and the European Union to the failed referendum, a response that led ultimately to the Irish people’s positive endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in October 2009. The chapter considers the detailed analysis carried out by the Irish government on the underly- ing reasons behind the initial rejection of Lisbon and the attendant difficulties in attempting to assuage the fears of voters on disparate issues – from the loss of a commissioner to direct taxation, military neutrality and abortion. The chapter chronicles the political and legal response of the member states in addressing these issues without reo- pening the treaty. Particular attention is paid to the legal guarantees agreed by the heads of government at Brussels in June 2009 and the subsequent effect of this decision on the second referendum campaign in Ireland. Central to that second campaign was a debate, which this chapter examines, on the precise legal status of the guarantees, which have both the status of an international agreement between...

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