Magazine article Europe-East

Lisbon Treaty : Treaty Important but Not Essential for Further Enlargement

Magazine article Europe-East

Lisbon Treaty : Treaty Important but Not Essential for Further Enlargement

Article excerpt

The hopes are high that the Lisbon Treaty will be ratified by the five remaining member states (Ireland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Sweden(1)) in 2009 and the text will thus enter into force in 2010, enabling the smooth accession of Croatia to the EU in 2011. However, due to the uncertain situation in Ireland, where the treaty was earlier this year rejected in a referendum, as well as in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland, where the ratification process is either subject to lengthy constitutional scrutiny (the Czech Republic, Germany) or depends on the goodwill of the president (Poland), less optimistic scenarios must also be taken into consideration. One of these is Croatia's accession without the Lisbon Treaty.

According to experts, from a legal point of view such an option is fully legitimate as there is no legal provision in any of the existing treaties that would make Croatia's accession conditional upon the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty or any other reform treaty. Hence, "an accession treaty, which from the legal point of view is equal to any of the reform treaties as it is also a primary legal act, would be completely sufficient for Croatia's accession," Piotr Maciej Kaczynski, fellow researcher at the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), told Europolitics.

However, the situation is more complex when it comes to the political aspects. The Nice Treaty, which is currently in force, provides for institutional arrangements only for 27 member states. Croatia's accession will therefore require certain adjustments, including to such sensitive issues as the size of the European Parliament or the number of votes in the Council. Most of these problems have already been settled during lengthy negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty. The EU leaders, led by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, are not eager therefore to go through this extremely difficult and time-consuming process again. …

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