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European Union Politics

European Union Politics (6th edn)

Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán
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date: 01 December 2023

p. 313. From the Constitutional Treaty to the Treaty of Lisbon and Beyondlocked

p. 313. From the Constitutional Treaty to the Treaty of Lisbon and Beyondlocked

  • Clive Church
  •  and David Phinnemore


This chapter explores the emergence and implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon. Its origins lie in the Constitutional Treaty of 2004 and its rejection in the French and Dutch referendums of 2005, which led to a period of so-called reflection. Then, mainly under the German Council presidency of early 2007, there was an emphatic drive to produce not a constitution, but an orthodox amending treaty to carry forward the basic reforms of the Constitutional Treaty. A deal was reached in October 2007. However, while parliamentary ratification went successfully, an initial referendum rejection in Ireland in June 2008 cast doubt on the new Treaty’s future. In part, this symbolized a rejection of some elements of the Treaty, but it also owed much to a deeper unease about the EU. Once Irish concerns had been assuaged, a second referendum produced the necessary ‘yes’ to ratification and, following some last-minute concessions to the Czech Republic, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009. Its implementation proceeded relatively smoothly but was complicated by the eurozone crisis, which in turn pushed the EU to pursue some further treaty reform. In the face of increasing Euroscepticism, and persistent question marks over the popular legitimacy of the EU, the appetite for treaty reform all but evaporated for much of the 2010s, even if for integrationists the eurozone crisis demanded further reform. Towards the end of the decade, with Emmanuel Macron as French President calling for a ‘re-founding’ of the EU and the UK negotiating its withdrawal from the EU, opportunities for and some interest in a new round of treaty reform appeared to be emerging.

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