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Unlock Democracy: Most EU member states have special procedures to ratify Lisbon Treaty

Most EU member states have special procedures for ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. The UK should have one too as part of a written constitution and in lieu of one should hold a referendum on the treaty itself, argues Unlock Democracy.

Of the 27 member states, 14 representing 60% of the population require either a "super majority" in Parliament to ratify the Treaty or a referendum. Of the six large member states - France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK - only Italy and the UK do not have such a procedure.

Commenting, Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey:

"In Germany, the Lisbon Treaty will have to be supported by two-thirds of both houses of parliament to be ratified. In France, 60% of Congress (the combined membership of both houses of parliament) must support the treaty for it to be automatically ratified and not have to go to a referendum. By contrast, in the UK this treaty is being treated as if it is just another piece of legislation, despite the fact that the only way it can be repealed is if we left the EU.

"It is one thing to argue that the Lisbon Treaty does not merit a referendum and should be dealt with by a formal parliamentary process, but it is clearly wrong to suggest that there should be no constitutional safeguards in the approval of such treaties at all. It is not a constitution but has clear constitutional implications for the UK's uncodified constitution and the EU as a whole.

"This current debacle highlights the need for the UK to have a written constitution where such procedures are clearly spelled out and understood in advance of the treaty negotiation process. But a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is the only option presently on the table that enables some degree of public scrutiny. We respect the Liberal Democrat position of holding an 'in or out' referendum to retrospectively ratify the previous amending treaties, many of which had far wider constitutional implications than this one, but in lieu of this getting wider parliamentary support they should back down and support the Conservative amendment."

How other EU member states will be ratifying the Lisbon Treaty:

Austria - any treaty deemed to amend the Austrian constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in the National Council.
Denmark - any treaty involving a transfer of powers to a supranational organisation requires a five-sixths majority in the Folketing. If this is not achieved then a referendum must be held.
Finland - any treaty deemed to amend the Finnish constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament.
France - requires three-fifths majority support in Congress or a referendum must be held.
Germany - requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.
Greece - any transfer of sovereignty requires three-fifths majority support in parliament.
Hungary - any treaty deemed to amend the Austrian constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament.
Ireland - any transfer of sovereignty requires a referendum.
Luxembourg - all treaties must be approved by two thirds of the Chamber of Deputies.
Poland - treaties require either two-thirds majority support in both houses of parliament or a national referendum to be ratified.
Slovakia - three-fifths majority support of parliament is required to ratify any treaty that involves a transfer of sovereignty and/or requires a change to the constitution.
Slovenia - two-thirds majority support of parliament is required to ratify any treaty that involves a transfer of sovereignty and/or requires a change to the constitution.
Spain - three-fifths majority support in the Chamber of Deputies is required to ratify any treaty that involves a transfer of sovereignty and/or requires a change to the constitution.
Sweden - three-fifths majority support in the Riksdag is required to ratify any treaty that involves a transfer of sovereignty and/or requires a change to the constitution. If this cannot be achieved then a decision can be made by two consecutive, simple majority decisions with a general election in between.

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