Open Europe Blog

Nightmare Lisbon Treaty

Today, the Lisbon Treaty has been in force for 100 days. The result? A more democratic and open EU? A Union which voters have an easier time understanding and identifying themselves with? Simpler and more ‘streamlined’ institutions? Not quite.

On it’s 100th day in force, the fundamental flaws of the Lisbon Treaty – which many of us warned against – are beginning to hit home around Europe.

Le Figaro has an article in today’s edition (not online) bashing the confusing institutional set-up created by Lisbon. The article notes,

Did the authors of the Lisbon Treaty fool themselves? A hundred days after the birth of the ‘newly formulated’ union, Europe is struggling to make its voice heard, and the confusion – ‘cacophony’ according to Jose Manuel Barroso – has increased at the top.

The article goes on to say that “the twenty-seven had hoped to end what we in Paris call institutional navel-gazing“, but quotes an unnamed Commissioner saying, “The treaty has not simplified life; it has complicated it and wasted a lot of energy”.

Strong stuff. It goes on along the same theme,

Coincidence or not, the disorientating climate idealism at Copenhagen, the withdrawal of Barack Obama from a planned [EU-US] summit and…the attacks against the euro coupled with the collapse of Greece, all add to the gloom.

The double mess-up surrounding Catherine Ashton and the European diplomatic service adds to the disenchantment… In Brussels and beyond, lawyers and diplomats concede that the inventors of the Treaty were mistaken in its institutional mechanics. Even if the EU was at its best, its foreign policy would still be jammed today.

And on Tuesday, FT Deutschland featured an equally critical leader with the headline “Nightmare Lisbon Treaty”. It argued,

Europe has its celebrated Lisbon Treaty, its new constitution. However the Union has not become simpler for outsiders. What an anticlimax. The Member States fought long and hard for the treaty. So many thought that it would allow Europe to reach decisions faster, become more democratic and appear more united to the rest of the world. However, three months after the agreement came into force, the euphoria has evaporated. The EU Commission under Jose Manuel Barroso, the Parliament and the member states are fighting over their powers. This is because the treaty revolves around Brussels – those affected by it are finding this out little by little.


Taking a swipe at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it noted:

Even as early as the middle of December, Chancellor Angela Merkel was certain that now the EU could concentrate all its efforts on the big, political challenges. ‘Instead of being concerned about ourselves, we can now tackle the challenges and problems of our time’ said Merkel. This has turned out to be only a pious wish. A new phase of navel-gazing has effectively begun, the institutions are having a go at each other; everyone thought that they would have more influence over Europe….The losers are becoming more and more evident. The Foreign Ministers were the first ones…”

It conluded quoting a “high-ranking member of the Council”, saying “A lot of the Ministers fought for the Lisbon Treaty, but did not read it properly.”

We rest our case.

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