From the Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty
Edited by Maurizio Carbone
Chapter 1: Introduction: Understanding the Domestic Politics of Treaty Reform
Maurizio Carbone On 13 December 2007, the heads of state and government of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) met in the capital of Portugal to sign the Treaty of Lisbon, the latest episode in the process of ‘constitutional politics’ that officially started in December 2001 with the Laeken Declaration. The ensuing Convention on the Future of Europe, which took place between February 2002 and July 2003, represents a unique experience in the history of the European Union. In contrast to previous treaty reforms, when negotiations occurred in the context of a secretive Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC), the establishment of the Convention was meant to set up a new method, allegedly more democratic and transparent. The draft Constitutional Treaty produced by the Convention was broadly accepted by the Member States in the 2003–04 IGC and signed in Rome in October 2004 under the Irish Presidency. The method of ratification varies across countries, but an unprecedented number of Member States chose to consult their populations. The negative outcome of the referendums in France and the Netherlands in May–June 2005 was expected to precipitate the European Union into one of the most serious crises of its 50-year history. Its predicted lethal effects, however, failed to materialise. Not only did the EU continue to function as before, but after a ‘period of reflection’, the German Presidency was able to restart the debate. Following the June 2007 European Council, a new IGC was convened to draft a Reform Treaty, which...