Yesterday, the Irish Republic held a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (If you don't trust the EU to be objective about the treaty, check out the wiki site here.) Last time, they had a referendum on this Treaty, the Irish voted "No" (53.4% against). This time they voted "Yes" by a HUGE margin (67% in favor). The Czech Republic and Poland have yet to ratify but won't be doing so by referendum so their eventual ratification can be expected to be smoother. So this vote means the Lisbon Treaty is likely to be the law of the EU sooner rather than later.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
The Lisbon Treaty is designed to implement many of the institutional changes (changes in the application of voting rules, changes in how majorities are measured in the Council of Ministers, new positions for foreign policy spokesperson and new "President of the EU" who will be largely a figure head) that were included in the now failed Constitutional Treaty. The best feature of this treaty, in my view, is that it will codify a new means of determining a majority vote in the Council of Ministers. In the past, majorities of various types in the Council were calculated by a system of weighted votes with each country's weight in the Council carefully negotiated to produce an acceptable (to the national governments) balance of influence among the various member states. This is all well and good but it required extensive renegotiations of the decision making rules every time a new member state joined. And it could potentially require renegotiation as political, economic and demographic conditions in the various member state change (remember that the Eastern Member States are changing very rapidly right now). Imagine if the US had to rewrite Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution every time a new state joined or the demographics in the country shifted.
The new method will be based on the number of governments voting together and the percentage of the EU population they represent. This updates itself automatically so this new method can become a permanent fixture. This alone is a huge improvement over the status quo and should have argued forcefully for the treaty's ratification.
The creation of the "President of the EU" and the "Representative for Foreign Affairs" are largely ceremonial. Neither will have much in the way of real political influence. But these features are what are drawing much of the anti-Treaty attention. The Foreign Affairs rep in particular would be allow to propose foreign policy missions but these would only be approved through unanimous vote of the Council so such proposal power isn't likely to be much beyond a media event that could start a debate but not - in of itself - constrain any member state government.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:20 AM