We’ve been hearing about an official constitution for Europe for many years now. In fact, at one time Tony Blair promised the country a referendum on it when he was Prime Minister back in 2004; but when both France and the Netherlands voted against it, the national vote was cancelled.
Ever since then, the Labour Government has not made any renewed efforts to allow the country to vote on an issue that is potentially more important to the UK than most other EU states. It all boils down to the fact that the UK does not have an official written constitution at present. If and when the Lisbon Treaty does come into force, this will mean yet another element to add to the already confusing constitution of this country.
What Will the Lisbon Treaty Mean?
To be fair, the Lisbon Treaty does seek to streamline the way in which the institutions of the EU work. This is the latest in a long line of treaties that have followed from the original Treaty of Rome in 1957. Considering the fact that the membership of the EU has continued to grow, now having reached 27 states, this can only be viewed as a good thing.
However, once the Treaty is in force, one of the provisions is to make it much more difficult for individual states to block the actions of the majority. At the moment, the UK is able to opt out of certain legal requirements, whereas in the future this will be far more difficult. There are fears that in the long term this will mean that we are forced even closer towards our European neighbours and that the British individual identity, already precariously fragile, will be even further depleted.
The Lisbon Treaty also looks to establish a President of the EU and a Foreign Minister. It is believed that both of these posts will allow the EU to have a more active voice on the world stage. One of the main front-runners for the position of President is none other than Mr. Tony Blair, although there are some other member states that are not quite so keen on this idea. It will always be difficult attempting to identify an individual who will be able to appeal to every single country in the Union.
When Will the Lisbon Treaty Come into Effect?
It was hoped that the Treaty would come into effect at the beginning of next year. However, as every single member state must ratify this Treaty before it can be implemented, two of the newest Eastern European states have been enjoying flexing what little muscle they have. First of all it was Poland, which was waiting to see what would happen in the Irish vote. Then it was the Czech Republic, and the President of that country (Vaclav Klaus) shows no signs of ratifying the Treaty anytime soon.
It is thought that he is now counting on the possibility of a new Conservative Party Government assuming power in the UK next year. This party has promised the UK population that there will be a referendum on the Treaty, if it is not already in force, and Mr. Klaus feels quite certain that the country will end up rejecting it. This, in turn, would almost certainly bury this Treaty.
Little does Mr. Klaus realise that what the politicians here in the UK say and do are two entirely different things. After all, we’ve been lied to by the Labour Government before, so who’s to say that the Tories are not likely to do exactly the same thing? Especially when they will foresee the almost certain ‘no’ vote that is likely to transpire from such a referendum.
With all these ‘what ifs’ in mind, it is definitely not certain that the Lisbon Treaty will ever come into force. It is quite amazing really that such a small member state such as the Czech Republic is able to hold the fate of well over half a billion citizens in its tiny hands. It’s ironic that this is one of the many things that the Treaty is seeking to resolve.