In the light of the Irish NO vote, the EU is desperately trying to press all other countries into ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, despite the fact that, under its own quite specific terms, legally it is dead.
The EU have had two ‘successes’ in the last two days in persuading two countries to ignore the legal death of the Treaty. First, Britain saw the Treaty ratified in its third reading in the House Of Lords last night, with four protesters being removed from the gallery, shouting ‘This is meant to be a democracy’. There was no direct news forthcoming about Bill Cash’s judicial review requested in the High Court, although presumably it must have failed for the Lords to proceed.
The EU also had the pleasure of hearing that Sweden’s Constitutional review body completed on June 13th, and it decided that the Lisbon Treaty was not in breach of the Swedish Constitution, and that the Treaty ratification Bill can proceed to be debated in the Swedish Parliament.
Here is the report on the Swedish situation from the expert Europhile lawyer Ralf Grahn.
The Swedish Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) has given its expert opinion on the government’s draft ratification bill concerning the EU Treaty of Lisbon. The legal opinion, dated 13 June 2008, draws on the earlier statement on the Constitutional Treaty to conclude that the proposed ratification does not require amendments to the Swedish Constitution.
The legal opinion can be accessed at:
This means that the government of Sweden can send the bill to parliament without constitutional complications.
On the political side, foreign minister Carl Bildt has reiterated his mantra that Irelend decides for Ireland, and Sweden decides for Sweden.
All of these things are happening despite the fact that the Treaty has to be decided unanimously for it to take effect. At what point will the lawyers speak, and the politicians admit that the current Treaty is dead? It will require a new term to be agreed by all its signatories, whereby the requirement for unanimity will be dropped. But then that will be a new Treaty which will need signing all over again.
Gordon Brown will be back in his little side room, and the process of ratification will need to be gone through a second time….unless the law no longer applies across the EU.
EU law might possibly be capable of avoiding the above, as it is ‘teleological’. Judges are allowed to decide cases based on what the legislator intended, or would have intended in the changed circumstances that have come about – but with a Treaty, there is no law until it is ratified.
It would be interesting to hear some information about any legal opinions expressed by Bill Cash’s application. Maybe they will be forthcoming later today. Maybe they just ran out of time.
OTHER COUNTRIES NOT YET RATIFIED
Then there are Italy and Germany. The ratification process is also stuck in these two countries. In Germany the President Horst Koehler who refused to sign German ratification of the EU Constitutional Treaty in 2005 after the French and the Dutch referendums, has yet to sign the Lisbon Treaty, and possibly will not do so.
In Italy the Northern League, who are a key part of Berlusconi’s governing coalition are being asked to give their support to the ratification of the Treaty through the Italian Parliament, but they are refusing, and demanding that a referendum takes place.
And of course there is still the Czech Republic where many President Vaclav Klaus and the Senate are saying that the Treaty is dead. Opinion is divided as to whether the Treaty can be rammed through against their express wishes.
But in truth, we need to hear from the lawyers. What is the situation now as regards the Lisbon Treaty? Is it dead? If so, what will be done to bring it back to life? The politicians will have to go quiet soon and listen to expert opinion on these matters. Or will they keep dragging their corpse of a Treaty around for months, as it gradually decomposes and stinks out the atmosphere? It looks like there’s going to be a slow long drawn-out burial, when a quick one would have been more appropriate, so the mourning could begin.
Grief is a process. First comes shock. Then denial. Then anger. Then sadness. Then coming to terms. We are definitely in stage 2 at the moment.
See two Telegraph articles – Lords Leave Treaty With A Ghost Of A Chance,
The debate in the UK seems to take no account of possible suport for our euroscepticism, in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. That to my mind is a mistake. The figures polled by Open Europe showing that two thirds of Britons want either withdrawal or trade only, with the EU is an important statistic, but it means a lot more when placed alongside the fact that a majority of Germans want to get rid of the Euro.
Europe-wide denial by the EU’s supporters needs to be met with Europe-wide reality, not only British and Irish. There could be more shocks in store for the EU coming from many angles. Ireland might be just the first.