National Politics and European Integration

National Politics and European Integration

From the Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty

Edited by Maurizio Carbone

This book discusses the domestic politics of treaty reform in the European Union, from the failed referendums on the Constitutional Treaty held in France and the Netherlands in May-June 2005 to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009.

Chapter 5: United Kingdom: Red Lines Defended

Neill Nugent and David Phinnemore

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy


Neill Nugent and David Phinnemore INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the UK government’s contribution to the making of the Treaty of Lisbon and also evaluates the extent to which the government succeeded in achieving its goals. It is argued that at the centre of the government’s concerns was that the treaty should be, and should be seen to be, significantly different in character from the Constitutional Treaty – especially by way of the removal of the constitutional symbols and the inclusion of new guarantees concerning UK sovereignty. These goals were not only seen as being desirable in themselves but were also deemed to be necessary so as to enable the government to be able to claim with some credibility that the promise of a referendum it had given on the Constitutional Treaty did not apply to the Treaty of Lisbon. The avoidance of a referendum was seen to be crucial because all the evidence indicated that it would be almost impossible to win. It is argued that the government was largely successful in achieving its aims. A major reason it was able to be so was that the governments of all EU Member States wished to see the negotiations on the treaty concluded quickly, and so were disposed to be accommodating to UK ‘special pleading’. But the special pleading was, in any event, relatively modest in nature, with the government’s position on most issues not in fact deviating significantly from the dominant view among the other Member States. Matters that the government...

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