Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series
Edited by Thomas Eger and Hans-Bernd Schäfer
Chapter 1: A Constitution Like Any Other? Comparing the European Constitution with Nation State Constitutions
Stefan Voigt* 1 1 INTRODUCTION The Treaty of Lisbon went into force in December 2009. From an economic point of view, this treaty is equivalent with the constitutional framework of the European Union. Its institutional traits are, hence, analyzed in this chapter. The Treaty of Lisbon is the way EU governments have coped with the failure of the attempt to install a fully fledged constitution, due to the negative referendum results in both France and the Netherlands. The Treaty of Lisbon was subject to referendums in only one member state, namely Ireland. Ironically, it possibly owes its ratification to the global financial crisis that occurred in 2008 and 2009: after having turned down the Lisbon treaty once, the Irish opted in its favor as soon as they realized that their own country was in deep trouble and that the support of the EU might be crucial for getting it out of the crisis. The financial crisis is further evidence for the precarious nature of constitutions. Before some members of the Eurozone got into serious trouble, there was unanimous consent that the Treaty of Lisbon contained a very clear and unambiguous no bail-out clause. After a protective shield worth €750 billion was created in May 2010, we all know better. This chapter provides an evaluation of both the genesis and the content of the Treaty of Lisbon. The normative benchmarks on which the evaluations are based are taken mainly from both constitutional political economy and fiscal federalism. The chapter spells out...
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