From Laeken to Lisbon: The Origins and Negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty1

Paul Berman

in EU Law after Lisbon

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644322
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738173 | DOI:
From Laeken to Lisbon: The Origins and Negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty1

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The Lisbon Treaty has had one of the longest and most troubled histories of any EU treaty. This has left its mark on the Treaty's structure and content as well as giving rise to widely varying perceptions of its significance and effect. The Treaty continued an ever-accelerating period of treaty change beginning with the Single European Act. Its own origins lay in the Laeken Declaration and the concerns to make the enlarged EU fit for purpose to the meet the internal and international demands of the twenty-first century. The subsequent Convention, an innovation in itself, proposed establishing a new single Constitution, and EU, but foundered on the French and Dutch referendums. After a period of reflection, intensive negotiations produced a new treaty taking up many of the Constitution's proposals but abandoning the constitutional concept in favour of a classic, amending treaty. It also addressed specific concerns of Member States. Subsequent rejection in Ireland's referendum, as well as Czech concerns, required the negotiation of additional safeguards which have added to the Lisbon Treaty's complex, multi-layered character. Understanding Lisbon's negotiating history is therefore key to understanding the final text. Despite its difficult history, the Treaty can still be understood by reference to the original aims set out at Laeken. Equally this troubled history, and what it reveals about divergent visions of the EU and the difficulties of negotiating in an enlarged Union, makes it unlikely that there will be further significant treaty change in the foreseeable future.

Keywords: Lisbon Treaty; EU treaty; Laeken Declaration; referendum; Single European Act

Chapter.  19742 words. 

Subjects: EU Law

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