18 October, 2007
European leaders will meet in Lisbon today and tomorrow to try and agree on a new EU Reform Treaty which is supposed to give the Union instruments to operate more efficiently after its big enlargement from 15 to 27 members (see International Herald Tribune and the Times). Since the two “No” referenda in 2005 on a first version of this new Treaty (then ambitiously or maybe foolishly called the “Constitutional Treaty”), only two issues have fueled the debate: whether or not the Reform Treaty text is the same as the old version which was rejected by the French and the Dutch voters and whether there should be new public consultations or referenda to legitimise the acceptance of the slightly reworked text.I have expressed my opinion on the irrelevance of the Reform Treaty already on my EUcologic blog, so no need to repeat it in extenso here. What I would like to underline today is how symbolic it is that the new Treaty will probably go into history as the “Lisbon Treaty”.
Lisbon, of course, is the Portuguese capital where in 2000 the Union confirmed its neo-liberal, “competitiveness-first” working agenda. Blinded by the “new economy” and the dot-com boom, EU leaders in 2000 had little eye for the first signs of three major realities that in the following seven years undermined “globalisation optimism”: fundamentalist terrorism, climate change and energy insecurity.
The Constitutional Treaty and the current Reform Treaty were coloured by the policy vision of the Lisbon Agenda and built upon the architectural foundations laid down by the Union’s Founding Fathers. That the new challenges of the 21st century can not be solved by ideological and institutional tools created in the last decennia of the previous century seems to have been too hard to see for the majority of participants in the long and difficult Treaty process. Maybe the “No votes” of French and Dutch voters was an intuitive cry against the lack of a new EU vision?
So maybe, yes, the Reform Treaty will make the Union of 27 a little bit more workable, but will it help in our search for a new international convenant which can build bridges between the world’s have and have-nots (the real cause of global terrorism). And will it help find ways of dealing with our 21st century ecological-economic scarcity crisis? Of course not! If this Lisbon Treaty is not replaced within the next five years with a new vision for Europe, the 27 leaders meeting in Lisbon over the next two days will have laid the tombstone for the European Union.Author : Willy De Backer