Impression of a European Union in crisis

United Kingdom
Federal Trust for Education and Research
In the United Kingdom, the future of the Lisbon Treaty is a subject which currently is only rarely discussed in either public or political circles. The government, having completed the parliamentary ratification of the treaty last summer, sees no political interest in further controversy on the matter; the Conservative Party, the main opposition party, has taken a strategic decision to speak less about European issues than it did before David Cameron became its leader; and public opinion is concerned by domestic and international economic questions to the exclusion of all other political topics. British public and political opinion in any case and understandably regards the second Irish referendum in the autumn of 2009 as decisive for the fate of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU at a turning point

Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University
The future of the EU after the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish referendum has found a broad coverage by the Turkish media in the reporting period, particularly with regards to its implications for Turkey’s EU accession. The exemptions Ireland was able to secure found a large reflection in the media, which underlined that the summit invited Ireland to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Crucial issues for Europe and challenges for Sweden

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

For Sweden, which is to assume the presidency of the EU on 1 July 2009, the issues related to the fate of the Lisbon Treaty and the events scheduled to take place during the year are seen both in the perspective of the development of the Union and in the perspective of their influence on the work of Sweden during the last half of the year 2009.
The Swedish parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty on 20 November 2008 with 243 members supporting the proposal and 39 members against it. This outcome had been predicted – the fact that Sweden was one of the last countries to ratify did not signify that there was any doubt about the outcome.[1] 59 percent of Swedes see membership as positive (as compared to the EU average of 53 percent).[2] Some groups are, however, for various reasons critical against the Lisbon Treaty.[3]

The future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’

Elcano Royal Institute

The debate in Spain about the conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty was quite predictable. After the summit, the Spanish government defended domestically the solution that had been agreed with Ireland – basically, to keep one Commissioner per member state and to clarify formal guarantees about Irish neutrality, corporate taxation and family law –, on the grounds that this allows Dublin to call for a second referendum before October 31 2009 and, therefore, to complete the ratification process. The socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, admitted in the Spanish Parliament that he preferred a smaller and “genuinely supranational” Commission but, realistically, some deal with Ireland was needed. On the other hand, he stressed that the compromise reached among the 27 member states also included a very important provision for Spain; specifically, that the delay in the process of ratification would not impede the increase in the number of Spanish MEPs according to the Lisbon Treaty. Thus, although Spanish electors will elect only 50 representatives to the European Parliament in the forthcoming June 2009 elections – as regulated in the Nice Treaty – four additional seats will be conferred to Spain once the Reform Treaty comes into force.[1]

No stall in the enlargement process

Centre of International Relations

Regarding the conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty, the government of the Republic of Slovenia is satisfied with the agreement reached. The Slovenian government was faced with the Irish ‘No’, while holding the EU-presidency in the first half of 2008. Then Prime Minister Janez Janša expressed respect for the decision of the Irish people, but was quick to utter hope for the Irish ‘No’ to have no negative implications on the further enlargement process. This represents the central theme of the Slovenian governments’ (previous and current, in place since November 2008, following the general elections of September 2008) considerations on the fate of the Treaty of Lisbon. Further enlargement, especially to the countries of the Western Balkans, represents a clear Slovenian national foreign policy interest and steps in direction of Western Balkan countries’ accession represented the utmost priority of the Slovenian 2008 EU-Presidency. The Slovenian government responded to the Irish ‘No’ already as the EU presiding state by setting the timeline for a common EU reaction to the situation and guidelines to be reached by the end of the year 2008.[1]

Slovakia and the institutional future of the EU

Slovak Foreign Policy Association

In recent months in Slovakia there has been very little discussion on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty. Since the negative result of the Irish referendum, Slovakia’s politicians have repeatedly emphasised that the future of the Lisbon Treaty was in the hands of the Irish politicians. In expert circles there have been several public events in which the ability of Czech politicians to ratify the Lisbon Treaty while the Czech Republic holds the EU-presidency in the first half of 2009 was questioned. However, on the whole debates on the Lisbon Treaty specifically and the institutional architecture of the EU more broadly have been overtaken by the deepening financial crisis.

After the Irish ‘No’: proceed with optimism

European Institute of Romania
The first and most obvious characteristic of the Romanian official position regarding the future of the European Union after the Irish ‘No’ is that of a moderate optimism. We are dealing with a type of ‘wishful thinking’ rather than a planned and calculated official view on what the future of Europe will look like after the Irish referendum deadlock.
It is obvious, when we look at the declarations of the Romanian officials in the months after the Irish ‘No’, that the key theme was the downplaying of this result: it is not a defeat but a mere setback; we are confronted with some sort of a road incident, an unpleasant one indeed, but it can be solved and there is no need to change the destination. Thus, the European Union has a future and this future cannot be conceived by the Romanian officials outside the Treaty of Lisbon.

Lisbon Treaty ‘is not dead’

Institute for Strategic and International Studies
The year 2009 is certainly a year of great uncertainties regarding the future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’, particularly when this will be coupled with the unknown impact of the current financial and economic crisis, that seems to many more structural than simply a cyclical recession. But it may also be a year of opportunities. It will certainly be a year of great expectations of change in transatlantic relations and even in global politics with the arrival of President Obama at the White House.[1] The combination of these factors seems to point to 2009 as a year of both great opportunities and great challenges in terms of the future of the EU and of global governance.

Positive attitude remains in Poland despite the Irish ‘No’

Foundation for European Studies - European Institute
At the outset one has to recall the basic facts – The Polish parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty on 1 April 2008 (396 for and only 56 votes against). In the following week, it was swiftly ratified by the senate. After the Irish ‘No’ the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, agreed with the official EU line to continue the ratification process. “The result of the Irish referendum does not have to rule out the chances of its implementation. The EU will find the way out of this conundrum”.[1] The President, Lech Kaczyński, as yet, has not signed the treaty. On the eve of the French Presidency, on 1 July 2008, the President, Lech Kaczyński, in an interview for “Dziennik” daily, said that the ratification of the treaty by Poland was, in current circumstances, pointless. After the critique from many European capitals and an internal row with the government, Lech Kaczynski toned down his rhetoric against the Lisbon Treaty. “If the Irish change their mind, not under pressure, but of their own free will […] I will also sign the treaty”.[2]

Future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’

Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’