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From Referendum Euphoria to Referendum Phobia

The Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 05-08 by Sarah Seeger

Sarah Seeger: From Referendum Euphoria to Referendum Phobia – How EU Member States Framed Their Decision on the Ratification Procedure of the Constitutional Treaty in Comparison to the Treaty of Lisbon, The Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 05-08


21.08.2008 · Forschungsgruppe Europa

When the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (TEC) was signed on 29 October 2004, many member states of the European Union (EU) announced a referendum in addition to the parliamentary ratification procedure. From a normative perspective, it was argued that "the Constitution" symbolised a new political quality of the EU which required direct approval by the citizens. Against the background of the Constitutional Treaty's rejection in the referendums in France and the Netherlands in spring 2005, the referendum euphoria changed into a referendum phobia. All member states except of Ireland where a referendum is legally required decided to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon via the parliamentary procedure only – even if it is widely asserted that the new treaty contains crucial elements of the TEC. Based on an analysis of the debate about direct democracy and referendums in the EU, this paper explores how member states' governments framed their decision on the ratification procedure of the Constitutional Treaty in comparison to the Treaty of Lisbon.

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