National Politics and European Integration
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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.
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Chapter 2: The EU Reform Process: From the European Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty

Thomas Christiansen


Thomas Christiansen INTRODUCTION A first observation when starting to examine the constitutional reform process in the European Union (EU) is the recognition that the debate about a European Constitution was deeply embedded in the existing integration process. The talk about, and the work on, a European constitutional document was indeed a radical departure from the previous practice of avoiding at all cost the language, symbols and other trappings of statehood in debating treaty change in the EU. But in spite of this discursive break with the past, there was never any serious idea of composing a constitutional document from scratch. Instead, the debate about the European Constitution that began in 2000 among the European political elites took account of the previously established patterns and foundations of European integration. It linked to the initial aspirations of the European movement, in particular constitutional federalism; it built on the advances in the area of European constitutional law; and it was situated within an ongoing reform of the European Union in preparation for Eastern enlargement. In fact, the launch of the debate occurred during the final stages of the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) in 2000 and was initially seen as an attempt to achieve a more federalist outcome from that particular IGC. However, as the process developed and the focus of the debate moved from abstract principles to the specific institutional and legal changes that would be required, it became clear that the ‘constitutional reform’ of the EU would be deeply entangled within the existing...

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