LEARNING FROM THE EU CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY
     
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The negative results of referenda on the European Union (EU) Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands, and subsequent low-key adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon raise complex questions about the possible democratization of international organisations. A study provides a full analysis of the EU Constitutional Treaty process, grounded in broader political theoretical debates about democratic constitutionalisation and globalization.

As international organizations become permanent systems of governance that directly interfere in individuals’ lives, it is not enough to have them legitimated by the consent of governments alone. A study presents an evaluation of the present EU Treaty of Lisbon in comparison with the original EU Constitutional Treaty, and analyses the importance of consent of the people, asking if saving the treaty came at the cost of democracy. Drawing first-hand on the European Convention and the referendum in the Netherlands, the study outlines an original political theory of democratic constitutionalisation beyond the nation-state, and argues that international organizations can be put on democratic foundations, but only by properly engaging national political structures.

International organisations like the EU should be put on a stronger democratic footing, through a set of rules, or a constitution, that would allow them to convert their power over the people into power by the people. This is the main conclusion of a study by the Free University of Amsterdam, which was presented at CEPS on December 5th.

It is argued that in spite of its shortcomings the European Convention represented the right vehicle for initiating this constitutionalisation process. Drawing lessons from that experience, it was warned that the proposed intergovernmental solutions to the economic governance crisis lack popular support, and that more integration "may be perceived as part of the problem rather than part of the solution", thus opening the door to nationalist backlashes.

A member of the cabinet (a former rapporteur on both the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties) agreed that the Eu needed to get "as much democratic legitimacy as possible" but pointed to the important role played by the European Parliament in this respect. It was also considered that a Convention would not have been the best way to deal with the current crisis, in particular because of the extreme urgency of the problems to be confronted. In this context, it was stressed that the need to have treaty reforms ratified by all 27 member states made things too cumbersome, observing that most national constitutions are not put to a referendum.