Thus spake Tony Blair, echoing Gerhard Schröder, following the negotiations for the shoddy Treaty of Nice back in 2000. And yet the last eight years have seen the European Union do business in exactly the same way, time and time again – last-minute concessions, bad compromises, unimaginative and ineffective solutions to problems that sometimes didn’t exist in the first place.
The Constitution, designed to rectify the mistakes of Nice’s last-minute compromises ended up inadequate as a result. In turn, the Treaty of Lisbon ended up little more than a shoddy remix with a few contentious bits removed (though not enough for its critics).
With Lisbon on the verge of death, is there any sign of the kind of radical rethinks and approaches that may shake the EU out of its growing torpor? Well, not really. But…
Unless Ireland can be persuaded to vote again, Lisbon – which must be ratified by all 27 nations to come into force – will die and the EU will be left operating under rules agreed to at 3:25 a.m. in Nice on Dec. 11, 2000.
Increasingly, however, diplomats are wondering whether that would be such a bad thing…
True, Lisbon is designed to streamline procedures that were creaking even in 2000, when the EU had only 15 member states, and that get more unwieldy with each nation that joins. But, in some ways, Lisbon would be a step backward.
There’s a compelling case made in this IHT article. Do go and read the whole thing. Not only is it an intriguing suggestion for a way forward, pulling together a few ideas I’ve seen elsewhere and adding to them to create a coherent strategy, but it’s also a handy overview of some of the key issues Lisbon was attempting (poorly) to address.