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Chapter

This chapter discusses the extent to which decision-making in the European Union can be considered democratic and legitimate. The chapter clarifies the concepts ‘democracy’ and ‘legitimacy’, and describes how, although initially the legitimacy of the European polity was not perceived as a problem, it became more problematic as the EU gained more competences. The European democratic deficit became an important issue of debate only during the 1990s after the Maastricht Treaty had transferred considerable powers to the EU. The main solution to the democratic deficit has been inspired by the parliamentary model of democracy and involves strengthening the European Parliament (EP), while also paying attention to the role of national parliaments and regional and local authorities. The chapter also shows how the governance debate at the start of the twenty-first century broadened the conceptual understanding of democracy in the EU by addressing the complexity of European governance (see also Chapter 7). By looking at different stages of policy-making and different modes of governance, while dealing with issues such as transparency and the role of civil society, the chapter discusses a wider range of issues associated with the democracy and legitimacy of the Union. It assesses the impact on EU democracy of the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. The chapter concludes by warning that three main crises, namely the economic, migration, and security crises, have revived nationalist and populist movements exacerbating the challenges to the EU’s legitimacy.

Chapter

Clive Church and David Phinnemore

This chapter explores how the EU ended a long period of constitutional change by agreeing the Treaty of Lisbon and used it to face new challenges of financial crisis, Brexit, and Covid-19—the latter events leading to thoughts that further treaty change might be needed. The process started with the 2002–03 Convention on the Future of Europe leadin to the Constitutional Treaty of 2004 and in October 2007 produced the Treaty of Lisbon which eventually entered into force on 1 December 2009. Its implementation was complicated by the eurozone crisis, resulting in extra-treaty arrangements and another treaty amendment. Although the official appetite for treaty reform all but evaporated in the 2010s, the UK’s June 2016 vote to quit the EU raised the hopes for further changes. The end of the 2010s and into the 2020s saw Brexit being negotiated within the terms of the Treaty of European Union the EU’s treaty agreeing measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Calls for treaty revision continued but active steps to re-negotiate the consolidated treaties have not yet begun.

Chapter

This chapter examines the new strategy adopted in March 2000 by a special European Council in Lisbon to make the European Union (EU) more competitive, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Amsterdam Treaty had scarcely entered into force before further Treaty reform emerged on the agenda. Throughout the year 2000, a new intergovernmental conference met to address outstanding institutional issues that had not been settled at Amsterdam. It concluded in December 2000 with the longest European Council in history, which led to the Treaty of Nice. The chapter first considers the Nice Treaty, before discussing the Lisbon Strategy, the European Security and Defence Policy, the Constitutional Treaty, the issue of enlargement, the European Parliament (EP), and the nomination of a new European Commission. It ends with a discussion of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Chapter

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.