From Constitution to Treaty and back again
On the 29th October, 2004 Blair and Straw, along with representatives (mostly Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries) from the 25 Member States, signed the Treaty in Rome (2004) establishing a Constitution for Europe.
Effectively this would have made the EU a legal, corporate entity in its own right, but only 18 of the 25 Member States ratified the treaty (unanimous agreement was needed for ratification), which was rejected by the French and Dutch (Founder Members of the EU) voters in referendums in May and June, 2005.
Tony Blair promised a referendum, but then cancelled (postponed), however, the Labour Party did include a referendum bill in the Queen's Speech on the 23rd of November, 2004
The objections by the French and Dutch voters, according to a House of Commons research paper (05/45, 13 June, 2005 - The Future of the European Constitution) were believed to include fears about national sovereignty and national identity, the increase in EU legislation, the pace of enlargement and the single currency.
One interesting aspect of the French and Dutch referendums was that the "No" vote in, each case, was initially lagging behind in the polls and then came to the fore to seal the "No vote" majority, despite the "Yes" campaigners have superior resources – backed with taxpayer funds.
Despite the rejection by the French and Dutch, the European politicians were determined to continue with the ratification process, against the wishes of the voters, and this took various forms, from concentrating on aspects of the constitution which could go ahead without ratification; excluding (temporarily setting aside) certain sections of the constitution from discussion or simply proceeding with ratification by stealth.
The EU had already started implementing several aspects of the Constitution, including the European Defence Agency, the President of the Eurogroup, and the European Police College, despite the "No" votes.
The Next Stage
The Constitution document had its origins in a declaration issued at the EU's Laeken summit in 2001 and was an attempt to put together a legal instrument which would form the basis for future direction of the Europe.
It was designed to supersede all previous negotiations, agreements and treaties and produce a single document – in effect, a Constitution.
That was the document signed in Rome in 2004, as outlined above, but it became obsolete after the rejections by the French and Dutch; which was mostly on the grounds of loss of sovereignty.
During the German EU Presidency (led by Merkel) which began on the 1st of January, 2007 a new treaty was devised to replace the rejected constitution document and readied by June, 2007, this is the Lisbon Reform Treaty.
Critically, being a new treaty to reform earlier agreed treaties, national politicians could argue that it did not require a referendum (i.e. we know that there are people in Europe who don't want the EU Constitution, so don't give them a choice)
The Lisbon Treaty
The Lisbon Treaty became Law on the 1st December, 2009 after being signed by the Queen, and had been signed on behalf of Britain by David Miliband in Lisbon, on the 13th December, 2007, despite New Labour winning the 2005 General Election on a manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the treaty.
Brown did not attend the actual signing ceremony, which was attended by all 26 other Members of State, but instead signed the document separately, at a lunch for heads of state, later that same day.
The Lisbon Treaty is a resurrection of the earlier EU Constitution and implements 96% of its legal content and by proposing amendments to the two principal treaties (Rome, 1957 and Nice, 2002) national politicians could argue that the Treaty did not require a referendum before ratification.
The Lisbon Reform Treaty excluded words relating to a "Constitution" and any references to it had been removed along with references to "Constitutional Paraphernalia of State” (EU Flags, Anthems etc.); however they nevertheless still exist – ready to be rolled out when those who plan to rule over us are confident that they can control any objections.
The document has also been re-organised, re-numbered, and made more difficult to relate meaning and likeness to the old document. Nevertheless, those areas which were decidedly rejected by France and Holland remained intact.
The treaty did require ratification by all 27 Member States and those which were decidedly wary were offered opt outs (bought off) to gain their acquiescence.
If you are unsure that the EU Constitution has been preserved within the Lisbon Treaty; reflect upon some of the comments made by EU leaders at the time.
"The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact." Angela Merkel German Chancellor, speech to the European Parliament, 27th June 2007
"Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire. "José Manuel Barroso President of the European, Commission, EU observer, 10 July 2007
Not forgetting Brown's contribution
"If we needed a referendum we would have one. But I think most people recognise that there is not a fundamental change taking place as a result of this amended treaty." Gordon Brown The UK Prime Minister, interviewed by the BBC, 24th September 2007
"There is no constitutional change that would justify holding a referendum‟. - Peter Mandelson, Trade Commissioner, 2007
For further comments see the home page of this website.
Technically, the Lisbon Treaty is a Constitution for Europe and It will be treated as such. The European Union will acquire a fully - fledged constitution of its own through the judicial use of precedence in case law of the Court of Justice, through Declaration 17 of that Treaty.
Declaration 17 states that Union law enjoys primacy over all national laws and is valid just because of existing case law practised by the Court, and indicates that written statements can be modified or simply annulled in the future, just by precedence, and so could the entire Lisbon Treaty
Think of Declaration 17 as a "Trojan Horse" that you received with an innocuous looking email (Lisbon Reform Treaty) then you will realise how toxic Declaration 17 can be in the hands of a bunch of megalomaniacs, or maybe just one.
Some of the other changes resulting from the Lisbon Treaty are listed in the Analysis section of the website.
If you spot any errors or misquotes, please contact us and we will correct them.