After the resounding Irish approval of the Lisbon Treaty, its ratification is almost assured … pending signatures of the euroskeptic Polish and Czech Presidents that is.
On the Polish side the issue seems to be well under way. Its President [Lech Kaczyński] had always promised to sign immediately following an Irish yes. On the Czech side, with its openly anti-European President, things are less clear. … Vaclav Klaus will not sign the Treaty for the time being as a group of senators politically close to him brought forward a constitutional complaint last week. This risks to create further delay. … Optimists hope for a verdict by the end of October.
Pressure on Vaclav Klaus to sign the treaty as soon as possible is mounting (see Le Monde, Le Figaro, FT) at the same time that UK Conservative leader David Cameron is allegedly urging him not to. Michael Berendt at Blogactiv.eu: “Cameron has apparently written to Klaus, in effect urging him to delay ratification […] to give time for an incoming Conservative administration to hold a referendum.” In response, the FT reports, “Mr Klaus hinted Mr Cameron may not be able to hide behind him much longer.”
Most analysts agree that the Treaty will finally come into effect, six years after the conclusion of the European Convention. Its impact on on European foreign policy in general and EU’s Common European Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in particular is widely viewed as important if far removed from euro-skeptic’s fears and European federalists’ hopes.
Jolyon Howorth of European Geostrategy explains that the Lisbon Treaty will bring about five major changes to the EU as it is now: (1) The EU will have a legal personality, enjoying status under international law; (2) The European Council will be two and a half years instead of six months; (3) A High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be created, in theory creating a single EU foreign policy; (4) An EU External Action Force will also be established, “in effect, an EU Diplomatic Service;” and (5) The treaty will allow structured bi- or multilateral military cooperation between member states to take place within the framework of the EU.
Judah Grunstein at World Politics Review concurs that Lisbon will change a lot in terms of foreign and defense policy, but stresses an important caveat to this assessment:
The evolution of these posts and how they are used will inevitably depend a great deal on the personalities that occupy them … as well as on public expectations and on the inevitable power struggles that will define the separations of power within the Union – Lisbon expands the power of the EU parliament, for instance – and between the Union and its member states.
This expansion of power of the European Parliament, according to Le Monde, includes “the budgetary domain where euro-parliamentarians will now have as much say as the European Council. ‘It’s the parliament that will have the last word now,’ believes Alain Lamassoure, President of the Committee on Budgets.” Additionally, and more directly relevant in the realm of foreign policy, the “assembly will be granted new powers to scrutinise [bilateral] agreements,” Euractiv reports. These would include agreements on visa waivers with the United States and would complicate issues for European Union negotiators trying to present a common position.
Although the Treaty of Lisbon is very likely to be ratified within only the next few months, its effects on European foreign policy still remain difficult to predict. Institutional changes will be significant, but their actual impact will depend on the niches carved out by the first EU President and High Representative as well as the result of the power struggle between member states and EU institutions.
Benjamin Preisler is an intern with the New Atlanticist. He recently earned his M.A. in North American Studies and Political Science from the Free University Berlin. Translations from non-English language sources are his own.