Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Lisbon Treaty

[You probably don’t have time to read all of this, however interesting it is, it is actually written by and to Europeans. But for just the short and most interesting — somewhat alarming part of it, scroll to near the bottom and read Professor Coughlan’s analysis in BOLD RED.]
January 9, 2008 | From theTrumpet.com
A Brussels Journal piece shows: Too few Europeans are aware of the undemocratic nature of this treaty.

The Trumpet has written extensively about the undemocratic nature of the European Union and the federal superstate that is gradually emerging from it. Over the years, we have supported our forecast for Europe with analysis from various authors, historians and respected authorities.

The following are excerpts from another perceptive source about the real nature of the EU. Written by Anthony Coughlan, a professor and senior lecturer emeritus in social policy at Trinity College Dublin, this article, aptly titled “These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You,” details the 10 most important things the Lisbon Treaty does. It was published on the Brussels Journal last month (emphasis ours throughout).

1. The Lisbon Treaty establishes a legally quite new European Union. This is a Union in the constitutional form of a supranational European state:

The treaty gives this new Union a state constitution, which is identical in its legal effects to the EU constitution that French and Dutch voters rejected in their 2005 referendums. …

The provision of the Lisbon Treaty that “The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community” (Art.1.3, amended teu) makes absolutely clear that the post-Lisbon Union will be quite a new entity, as the European Community of which our countries are all currently members ceases to exist.

2. The treaty empowers this new European Union to act as a state vis-a-vis other states and its own citizens:

To understand the change introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, one needs to understand that what we call the European Union today is not a state. It is not even a legal or corporate entity in its own right, for it does not have legal personality. The name “European Union” at present is a descriptive term for all the relations between its 27 member states. …

The Lisbon Treaty changes this situation by creating a constitutionally and legally quite new EU, while retaining the same name, the “Union.” Unlike the present European Union, this legally new EU will be separate from and superior to its member states ….

This new European Union can sign treaties with other states in all areas of its competence and conduct itself as a state in the international community of states. It can speak at the United Nations on agreed foreign-policy positions of its member states ….

The Lisbon Treaty also gives the EU a political president, a foreign minister—to be called a high representative—a diplomatic corps and a public prosecutor. The new EU will accede to the European Convention on Human Rights, as all other European states have already done, including those outside the EU.

The treaty also sets out the principle of the primacy of the laws of the new Union over the laws of its member states (Declaration 27). The new EU makes the majority of laws for its member states each year and under the Lisbon Treaty the new Union, which will replace the European Community, gets further power to make laws or take decisions by qualified majority vote in relation to some 68 new policy areas or matters where member states currently have a veto.

3. The treaty makes us all real citizens of this new European Union for the first time, instead of our being notional or honorary European “citizens” as at present:

A state must have citizens and one can only be a citizen of a state.

Citizenship of the European Union at present is stated to “complement” national citizenship, the latter being clearly primary, not least because the present EU is not a state. …

By transforming the legal character of the Union, the Lisbon Treaty transforms the meaning of Union citizenship. Article.17b.1 tec/tfu replace the word “complement” in the sentence “Citizenship of the Union shall complement national citizenship,” so that the new sentence reads: “Citizenship of the Union shall be in addition to national citizenship.” This gives the 500 million inhabitants of the present EU member states a real separate citizenship from citizenship of their national states for the first time. … The rights and duties attaching to this citizenship of the new Union are [to] be superior to those attaching to citizenship of one’s own national state in any case of conflict between the two, because of the superiority of EU law over national law and constitutions. …

Although we will be given rights as EU citizens, we should not forget that as real citizens of the new European Union, we also owe it the normal citizens’ duty of obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority, which will be a higher authority than that of our national states and constitutions.

Member states retain their national constitutions, but they are subordinate to the new Union Constitution. …

4. To hide the enormity of the change, the same name—European Union—will be kept, while the Lisbon Treaty changes fundamentally the legal and constitutional nature of the Union. By this means, the importance of the proposed change is kept hidden from the people:

The change in the constitutional nature of both the Union and its member states will be made in three legal steps that are set out in the treaty:

a) It establishes a European Union with an entire legal personality and independent corporate existence in all Union areas for the first time, so that it can function as a state vis-a-vis other states and in relation to its own citizens (Art.32, amended teu);

b) This new European Union replaces the existing European Community and takes over all of its powers and institutions. It takes over as well the “intergovernmental” powers over foreign policy and crime, justice and home affairs which at present are outside the scope of European law, leaving only the Common Foreign and Security Policy outside the scope of its supranational power (Art.11.1, amended teu). …

c) It makes us all real citizens of the new federal union which the treaty establishes, with all the implications of that for downgrading our present personal status as citizens of sovereign nation states and superseding it by citizenship of a supranational European Federation.

5. It creates a Union Parliament for the Union’s new citizens:

The Lisbon Treaty/EU constitution makes members of the European Parliament, who at present are “representatives of the peoples of the member states,” into “representatives of the Union’s citizens” (Art.9a, amended teu). This illustrates the constitutional shift the treaty makes from the present European Union of national states and peoples to the new federal Union of European citizens and their national states—the latter henceforth reduced constitutionally and politically to provincial or regional status.

6. It creates a cabinet government of the new Union:

The treaty turns the European Council, the quarterly “summit” meetings of member state heads of state or government, into an institution of the new Union, so that its acts and failures to act will, like all other Union institutions, be subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice.

Legally speaking these summit meetings of the European Council will no longer be “intergovernmental” gatherings of prime ministers and presidents outside supranational European structures. As part of the new EU´s institutional framework, they will instead be constitutionally required to “promote the Union’s values, advance its objectives, serve its interests” and “ensure the consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions” (Art.9, amended teu). They will also “define the general political direction and priorities thereof” (Art.9b).

The European Council thus becomes in effect the cabinet government of the new federal EU, and its individual members will be primarily obliged to represent the Union to their member states rather than their member states to the Union.

7. It creates a new Union political president:

The federalist character of the European Council “summit” meetings in the proposed new Union structure is further underlined by the provision which gives the European Council a permanent political president for up to five years (2½ years renewable once) (Art.9b).

There is no gathering of heads of state or government in any other international context which maintains the same chairman or president for several years while individual national prime ministers and prime ministers come and go. …

8. It creates a civil rights code for the new Union’s citizens:

All states have codes setting out the rights of their citizens. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights will be that. It will be made legally binding by the new treaty and will be an essential part of the new Union’s constitutional structure (Art.6, amended teu).

The charter is stated to be binding on the Union’s own institutions and on member states in implementing Union law. This limitation to EU law and to the EU institutions is unrealistic however, because:

a) The principles of primacy and uniformity of Union law mean that member states will not only be bound by the Fundamental Rights Charter when implementing EU law, but also through the “interpretation and application of their national laws in conformity with Union laws” (v. ecj judgments in the Factortame, Simmenthal and other law cases); and because

b) The Charter sets out fundamental rights in areas in which the Union has currently no competence, e.g. outlawing the death penalty, asserting citizens’ rights in criminal proceedings and various other areas.

This gives a new and extensive human and civil rights jurisdiction to the EU Court of Justice and makes that court the final body to decide what people’s rights are in the vast area covered by European law, as against national supreme courts and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg—the latter court serving all other European states, not just the EU members—which are our final fundamental rights courts today. …

9. It makes national parliaments subordinate to the new Union:

The treaty underlines the subordinate role of national parliaments in the constitutional structure of the new Union by stating that “National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union” by various means set out in Article 8c, amended teu. The imperative “shall” implies an obligation on national parliaments to further the interests of the new Union.

National parliaments have in any case already lost most of their law-making powers to the EC/EU. The citizens who elect them have lost their powers to decide these laws too.

The provision of the treaty that if one third of the national parliaments object to a Commission proposal, the Commission must reconsider it but not necessarily abandon it, is small compensation for the loss of democracy involved by the loss of 68 vetoes by national parliaments as a result of other changes proposed by the Lisbon Treaty.

10. It gives the new Union self-empowerment powers:

These are shown by:

a) the enlarged scope of the Flexibility Clause (Art.308 tec/tfu), whereby if the treaty does not provide the necessary powers to enable the new Union [to] attain its very wide objectives, the Council may take appropriate measures by unanimity. The Lisbon Treaty extends this provision from the area of operation of the common market to all of the new Union’s policies directed at attaining its much wider objectives. The Flexibility Clause has been widely used to extend EU law-making over the years;

b) the proposed “Simplified Treaty Revision Procedure” which permits the prime ministers and presidents on the European Council to shift Union decision-taking from unanimity to qualified majority voting in the “Treaty on the Functioning of the Union” (Art.33.6, amended teu), where the population size of certain member states is likely to be decisive; and

c) the several “ratchet-clauses” or “passerelles” which would allow the European Council to switch from unanimity to majority voting in certain specified areas such as judicial cooperation in civil matters (Art.69d.3.2), in criminal matters (Art.69f.2), in relation to the EU public prosecutor (69i.4), and in a number of other areas.

Professor Coughlan concluded his analysis:

It is hard to think of any major function of a state which the new European Union will not have once the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. The main one seems to be the power to make its member states go to war against their will. The treaty does provide that the EU may go to war while individual member states may “constructively abstain.”

The obligation on the Union to “provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies” (Art. tec/tfu 269a), which means raising its “own resources” to finance them, may be regarded as conferring on it wide taxation and revenue-raising powers, although these will require unanimity to exercise. …

However the new European Union will have its own government, with a legislative, executive and judicial arm, its own political president, its own citizens and citizenship, its own human and civil rights code, its own currency, economic policy and revenue, its own international treaty-making powers, foreign policy, foreign minister, diplomatic corps and United Nations voice, its own crime and justice code and public prosecutor. It already possesses such normal state symbols as its own flag, anthem, motto and annual official holiday.

As regards the state authority of the new Union, it is embodied in the Union’ s own executive, legislative and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice. It is also embodied in the member states and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with Union law. Member states will be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty. Thus EU “state authorities” as represented for example by soldiers and policemen in EU uniforms on our streets are not needed as such.

Allowing for the special features of each case, all the classical federal states which have been formed on the basis of power being surrendered by lower constituent states to a higher federal authority have developed in a gradual way, just as has happened in the case of the European Union. Nineteenth-century Germany, the usa, Canada and Australia are classical examples. Indeed the EU has accumulated its powers much more rapidly than some of these federal states—in the short historical time span of some 60 years.

The key difference between these classical federations and the new European Union is that the former, once their people had settled, share a common language, history, culture and national solidarity that gave them a democratic basis and made their state authority popularly legitimate and acceptable. All stable states are founded on such communities where people speak a common language and mutually identify with one another as one people—a “we.” In the EU however there is no European people or “demos,” except statistically. The Lisbon Treaty is an attempt to construct a highly centralized European federation artificially, from the top down, out of Europe’s many nations, peoples and states, without their free consent and knowledge.

If there were to be a European federation that is democratic and acceptable, the minimum constitutional requirement for it would be that its laws would be initiated and approved by the directly elected representatives of the people either in the European Parliament or the national parliaments. Unfortunately, neither the Lisbon Treaty nor the EU constitution it establishes contain any such proposal.

By giving a constitution indirectly rather than directly to the new European Union which it will establish, the Lisbon Treaty sets in place what Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has called the “capstone of a European federal state.” For the Euro-federalist political elites who have been driving this process over decades this is the culmination of what started nearly 60 years ago when the 1950 Schuman Declaration, which is commemorated annually on May 9, Europe Day, proclaimed the European Coal and Steel Community to be the “first step in the federation of Europe.”

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1 Response to “Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Lisbon Treaty”


  1. 1 Robert O'Coillean May 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    As an Irishman of the diaspora (all four of my grandparents were of Irish descent) I am vitally interested in the present and, especially, the future of my home land. This issue of the Lisbon Treaty frightens me to death! I’m afraid that too many of my brothers and sisters do not realize that the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is in effect a decision equal to new elections in Ireland. The decision on ratifying the Lisbon Treaty is – upon transferring the current powers of the nation state of Ireland to the federal state in Brussels – it is a decision on accepting or rejecting the permanent construction of A NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT OVER IRELAND. To do so will be to utterly discard on the rubbish heap of history all the sacrifices of our ancestors, both the suffering against British oppression and the fighting for freedom in which so many lives were lost.

    This is a crucial time in Irish history – a time when you/we will decide whether to march on under your/our own strength and character and leadership or to surrender your/our rights, lives, and fate to others who have, upon every past opportunity, either turned their backs on Ireland in her need or swooped in to take advantage of her riches. Which is exactly what is happening now. Ireland (God bless her forever!) has risen, by her own strength of character and moral fortitude and by God’s kind grace, far above her past of subjection and base poverty to a point where she is a jewel in the crown of Europe and the world. Ireland has earned all her scars and medals of valour and has come into her own – at last. (One might quote of Ireland as well, “Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”)

    And now, in the time of finally enjoying the fruits of our hard-won, blood-bought freedoms and successes, Ireland considers handing over her self-mastery to yet another foreign dictator! God forbid it! Let Ireland be Ireland, not some small dot on the EU map. Let Ireland be Ireland, not another chattel within another kingdom – for such is the becoming EU/EC. Never forget the sacrifices made by our (OUR) grandparents for the possibility of self-rule for Ireland. We are Ireland! We are not Europeans – we never have been. We were at best pets, at worst slaves of Europeans. Ireland has suffered too long to throw away her freedom and self-sufficiency on yet another European master race. We are Ireland!

    Look long and hard at America and learn from her mistakes. Under her own power, the United States stood together by choice. Today, we have given up the idea of mutually beneficial partnership among the member states and have become subjects to a dictatorial Federal Government who seeks to rip our choice from us – from freedom of religion to freedom of choice to freedom of speech. American is becoming what the EU would march straight into, from the beginning.

    Ireland, my Ireland, whom I learned to pray for and to love from my mother’s knee and my father’s stories, remember the source of your strength in your tortured past – return to your faith and your moral sense of self. God lead you through 700 years of tribulation and abject slavery. Your/our sense of Irish identity apart from that of the rest of the world kept us unified and alive during years of deprivation and attempted genocide. Please, please, please don’t give all that up now for a new, stronger master.

    We, the children of your diaspora, are counting on you to safeguard our heritage and our home. Guard and keep them from another outsider who seeks to steal and destroy our culture. We are counting on you. Please don’t let us down. Remain independent and free and self-governing. Please.

    We are Ireland!


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