Earlier this month, the Lisbon Treaty which was aimed at streamlining decision-making in the EU, making the EU more democratic and manageable and to make it work more efficiently was rejected by Irish voters. As it can only come into effect with approval from all member states, the reform treaty might be killed as was the EU constitution in 2005. While the European heads of government are still unsure what to do in order to salvage the Treaty of Lisbon and thus delayed a decision until their summit in October, I doubt that it would be sensible to force a second referendum in Ireland. Who of those who had voted “no” would vote “yes” for the same treaty with slightly different footnotes? Furthermore it’s ridiculous to let people go to the polls as often until the outcome suits politicians. That’d be neither democratic nor beneficial to the EU as the urgently needed reform would be further delayed.
The French president Nicolas Sarkozy who will have the EU presidency from July 1st on said that “without the Lisbon treaty there will be no enlargement”. He got backup from the German chancellor Angela Merkel who also rules out any expansion of the EU without passing a new governing treaty as the European Union is unable to accommodate yet another lesser-developed economy without a more streamlined organization and decisions by majority vote rather than by unanimity. Both, Sarkozy and Merkel refer to the Nice Treaty which limits the European Union to 27 members. These current rules will be valid until a new treaty is to replace it. Thus, the entry prospects of Balkan states, most notably Croatia, have deteriorated considerably as the future of the the Treaty of Lisbon is unsure and it’s to be doubt that all EU member states can agree in a timely manner on yet another treaty dealing with the fundamental concerns of the 27 nation bloc. Despite the Irish rejection, those member states which haven’t yet pursued the ratification of the treaty are likely to do so.
What impact a delay of the entry talks has on the further development of the Balkan states is to be seen. However, European politicians should take the concerns of the European people more seriously. Most Europeans are less enthusiastic about further expansion and have a feeling of unease with having almost no influence on the direction the EU takes. Thus, it is not surprising that the latest referendums were used to express the people’s discontentment rather with the European policy of acting on behalf of the poeple without giving them a voice than with the treaties themselves. Though the Treaty of Lisbon was aimed at making the EU more democratic, the European Union is anything but a democracy. The main problem is that even the European institution which should give the people power – the European Parliament – is not democratic as Europeans from different countries are represented unequally. For example Malta has one Member of the European Parliament per 80 citizens while Germany has one Member of the European Parliament representing 828 citizens. Consequently, one Maltese has more than 10 times the political influence than a German. And without equal representation in the European Parliament there is no chance for a European federal state as nobody is willing to give up one’s own sovereignty to an unfair majority decision.