*The Lisbon Treaty: De-Constitutionalizing the European Union?

26 Pages Posted: 6 May 2009


Calls to ratify the Lisbon Treaty by referendum have been countered with arguments about the Treaty's ‘non-constitutional’ nature. Against this backdrop, this article asks how much ‘constitution’ is left in the new document. To answer this question, I assert that little is gained by classifying the Treaty in toto as a ‘European constitution’ or as the epitome of its failure. Instead, I develop an analytical framework that disaggregates the concept of constitution into its formal, material and symbolic functions, and systematically assess how far Lisbon would strengthen (or weaken) Europe's constitutional quality. The article suggests that, rather than transferring new competences to Brussels or making a constitutional saut qualitatif, Lisbon moderately bolsters the Treaties' formal functions; yet, in contrast to the Constitutional Treaty it adds little in material terms and is a decisive setback symbolically. Calls for ratification by referendum justified by the reform's extent are therefore ill-founded.

Suggested Citation

Reh, Christine, *The Lisbon Treaty: De-Constitutionalizing the European Union?. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 47, Issue 3, pp. 625-650, June 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1399762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5965.2009.01819.x

Christine Reh (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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