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Reflections on the EU's Path from the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty

39 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2008 Last revised: 4 Nov 2008

Grainne De Burca

New York University (NYU) - Law School


This paper examines the path taken by the EU following the failure of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TECE) in 2005, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007. It examines the reaction of Europe's political leadership to the rejection of the TECE, and considers the implications of the choice to opt for a hasty and secretive drafting and adoption process for the Lisbon treaty. It seeks to account for the apparently paradoxical choice of EU leaders to respond to the popular discontent with the EU expressed by the negative referenda results in France and the Netherlands, and to the increasing demands for greater democracy, openness and transparency in EU affairs over the last two decades, by retreating to a secretive and executive-dominated process. The second part of the paper focuses more specifically on the reactions of various Member States to the TECE, and on specific concerns or opposition they expressed in relation to particular provisions thereof, as well as on the support they expressed for retaining or strengthening specific provisions. The paper identifies these different national concerns and interests and indicates the extent to which they were or were not addressed in the text of the Lisbon Treaty. Finally, the paper reflects on whether there are more general lessons to be drawn from the failure of the latest attempt to provide a formal constitutional foundation for the EU.

Keywords: European Union, Constitutional Treaty, Lisbon Treaty, constitution, transparency, democracy

JEL Classification: K33, K30

Suggested Citation

De Burca, Grainne, Reflections on the EU's Path from the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty. Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1124586. Available at SSRN: or

Grainne De Burca (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Law School ( email )

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