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    The European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty

    by Rumbold
    6th May, 2010 at 10:04 pm    

    In the 2005 general election, the three main parties promised to hold a referendum on the European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty. This never happened as both Labour and the Lib Dems broke their manifesto commitments (with the latter party then, as now, led by a man receiving a large EU pension) and helped to push the European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty through parliament. David Cameron then dropped his party’s promise of a referendum, on the basis that there was no point voting on something that had already been passed.

    Now it seems that the European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty may have to be put before parliament once again:

    In order to rush the Treaty through in the first place, the current draft failed to sort out the vexed issue of the distribution of seats in the European Parliament. As a result, there are various imbalances in the number of MEPs held by each country – and there are several “ghost” MEPs who currently work in Brussels but don’t actually have any voting powers. To sort this out, the European Parliament is expected to vote this Thursday in favour of holding a new Inter Governmental Conference on 17th and 18th June. At that conference, part of the Lisbon Treaty will be rewritten – requiring full ratification again by the Parliament of each and every EU member state.

    What makes it really complex is that none of the three main parties will really have a mandate from their voters on this, so it will be an issue that all the parties will want to avoid (whatever they say in public). I suspect it will be passed again, with Lib Dem support, or else the EU will have found a way to amend the relevant protocols without requiring a new vote for the whole document.

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    1. Jo Jowers

      eurotweeters RT @sunny_hundal Blog post: The European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty http://bit.ly/cdqfYy but note source of story?

    2. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: The European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty http://bit.ly/cdqfYy

    3. Recording Pen - Le Pen exposes Sarkozy (english sub)

      [...] Pickled Politics » The European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty [...]

    1. Naadir Jeewa — on 7th May, 2010 at 1:52 am  

      Not true according to Dr. Dermot Hudson at Birkbeck, and the foreign policy panel at tonight’s LSE live event.

      Cameron’s got probably the most anti-Europe Tory party of all time - William Hague is likely to be foreign secretary.

      People very worried in Brussels that Tories will call a referendum on next treaty (very likely to occur during next term), which is in the manifesto. Since Brits have not had a discussion on Europe in 20 years, they will vote down the treaty, causing a constitutional crisis for the entire EU.

      Also, at the meeting you’ve mentioned, all the European party groupings meet to set the agenda.

      Merkel and Sarkozy are very angry that Tories left the main centre-right grouping to form their new group with homophobes and antisemites.

      Essentially, Britain is likely to leave the European stage.

    2. Willy Humbold — on 7th May, 2010 at 7:59 am  

      See also http://www.FreeEurope.info for more…

    3. Naadir Jeewa — on 7th May, 2010 at 4:13 pm  

      Here’s the US take:

      The United States needs in the EU a strong partner better able to share global burdens. Otherwise, Europe may gradually slip off America’s radar screen. The Conservatives may well try to revitalize Britain’s historic bond to the United States. But their open skepticism of the project of European integration promises to have the opposite effect: ensuring that the EU falls well short of the more capable partner Washington so urgently seeks.

      Personally, I don’t see why there needs to be referendums on treaties, as such, when we know of all the attendant problems that policy referendums face. The way the EU project has panned out should dissuade people from believing the myths about a ‘new European order’.

    4. Shamit — on 7th May, 2010 at 5:29 pm  

      The reasons we need referendums for European Treaties are the same as the ones why we need one for any change in electoral methods or the devolved administrations.

      They fundamentally changed the way we are governed - and while the House of Commons is supreme - its powers are derived from the citizens with a tacit agreement of our accepted constitutional norms. Further, as the Parliament is Supreme - a new parliament can override an earlier parliament’s decision and that too supports the argument of derived powers from citizens.

      European Treaties are such that it is almost impossible to reverse a treaty except byr leaving the EU. Therefore, when you are giving powers away you need to consult the electorate because it is not yours to give away.

    5. Rumbold — on 8th May, 2010 at 10:29 am  


      There is an argument for not having referendums on treaties. However, when the three main parties promise a referendum as part of their manifestos, representative democracy suffers when two of them break their promises.

    6. MaidMarian — on 8th May, 2010 at 8:07 pm  

      Rumbold - I am a bit out of date, so apologies if some of this is wrong.

      The European Parliament has a treaty maximum size (thought there is no reason to go to the limit of 750) and the distribution of seats is based on population, based on residents NOT citizens. This has been periodically reviewed (I think every 7 years) but the number given to each country is not set out in treaty.

      There are some representatives in the Parliament who do not vote who have no position as they are not in the treaty. I think that the US Congress has some people in there from Puerto Rico who have a similar role. I don’t see why ‘observer’ roles need a treaty justification.

      I would be astonished if there was another ratification process. Lisbon, probably inadvertently, showed the limits of European integration. This is the limit of the EU’s treaty powers.

    7. Rumbold — on 9th May, 2010 at 9:33 pm  


      That’s interesting. I suppose the CAP means the parliament will only cost so much (£1 billion a year, here or there).

      There will never be another ratification process after this one is finished, as the treaty contains a clause allowing it to be altered at any time, so no one will ever have to put it to a vote again.

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