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Posted: 27 May 2008

Academic examines the real impact of provisions of the Lisbon Treaty

According to the ‘no’ campaign, ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would mean the end of EU referendums in Ireland. However, a new working paper on the Lisbon Treaty published by the UCD Dublin European Institute shows that Article 48 is in fact “strikingly conservative” and will leave the member states firmly in the driving seat should a ‘yes’ vote be carried in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

“The requirement of unanimity will continue to apply, giving each one of the currently-27 member states an effective veto over any amendment [to the EU’s treaties],” says Dr Gavin Barrett, UCD School of Law and author of the working paper. “Additionally, each national parliament is permitted to veto future Treaty amendments under the Lisbon Treaty.” Dr. Barrett describes the suggestion that the Lisbon Treaty will somehow deprive Irish voters of a compulsory referendum in the event of any switch to majority voting at European level as based on a misunderstanding of the present legal position.

In the working paper, Dr Barrett disagrees with the cohort of ‘no’ campaigners who are expressing the view that ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will turn the EU into a ‘super-state’. According to Dr Barrett, under the Lisbon Treaty each member state has the express legal right to withdraw from the Union - a right not enjoyed by members of federal states. This right is established by the new Article 50 inserted in the Treaty on European Union by the Lisbon Treaty.

According to Dr Barrett, the Lisbon Treaty does subject EU activity in the area of ‘justice and home affairs’ (including fundamental rights, asylum and migration, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the fight against drugs and terrorism) to the jurisdiction of the EU’s Court of Justice. This he argues is “a long overdue reform, from a number of perspectives including that of individual rights, the rule of law and the need for uniformity of the European Union legal order.”

The working paper does not look at innovations included elsewhere in the Lisbon Treaty, such as those that enable the EU to speak with a single voice in world affairs and those that give national parliaments and the European Parliament a greater role in the preparation and adoption of EU legislation.

Final Impact: The Treaty of Lisbon and the Final Provisions of the Treaty Establishing the European Community and the Treaty on European Union by Dr. Gavin Barrett is the first in a series of working papers published by the UCD Dublin European Institute. The working papers can be accessed at:

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Academic examines the real impact of provisions of the Lisbon Treaty