The 56th Meeting of "Diplomatic Roundtable" on "The EU after the Lisbon Treaty" Held

JFIR and its two sister organizations, the Global Forum of Japan and the Council on East Asian Community, taking advantage of an occasion of a visit to Japan of a prominent person on international and other affairs, monthly organize a "Diplomatic Roundtable" meeting, which is an informal gathering of members of the three organizations for a frank exchange of views and opinions with the visiting guest. The 56th "Diplomatic Roundtable" was held on 25 January 2010 on the topic of "The EU after the Lisbon Treaty." An outline of the presentation by Ioan Mircea PASCU, Member of the European Parliament (EP), Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of EP, was as follows.

After the Second World War, Europe started the unique political experiment of gradual unification in order to preserve its place in the coming bipolar world under the Cold War regime. The main obstacle of the integration was the Franco-German centuries old conflict. But it was overcome by unifying the two opposing war industrial bases of coal and steel in the two countries. The unification process received substantial material and military support during the Cold War from the United States, through the Marshall Plan and the NATO. The U. S. supported it because they needed the force of entire Western Europe to withstand the Soviets and needed a much larger market to absorb their surplus production. After the end of the Cold War, the international system underwent two structural changes. One was the "U. S. unipolar moment," and the other was the "post-post Cold War era," which was heralded by the 9.11 terrorist attacks. Significantly, after each of these changes, the European integration process was accelerated and deepened. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union and led to the creation of the Euro. Later on, the negotiations for a treaty establishing a Constitution for the EU started. Nevertheless, as the ratification of the treaty was rejected by referendums respectively in France and in the Netherlands, the idea of establishing a Constitution had to be reconsidered. Thus, a treaty replacing the formally abandoned constitution was called for, which is intended as a reform treaty but still preserves important supranational feature of the abandoned Constitution. This is how the Treaty of Lisbon was concluded, which entered into force on 1 December 2009. The Lisbon Treaty brought about the 10 significant changes in European Union as follows. (1) The Union has single legal personality, (2) Any Member State has the right to withdraw from the Union, (3) The President of the European Council represents the Union internationally at the highest level, (4) The High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission conducts the Union's common foreign and security policy and presents proposals to the development of that policy, and coordinates inside the commission all aspects of the Union's external action, (5) Introduction of European External Action Service, (6) More power for the European Parliament, (7) More involvement of national parliaments, (8) Citizen's right to initiative, (9) The voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers are changed, and (10) The Charter of Fundamental Rights becomes legally binding. The Treaty of Lisbon provides an effective multilateral cooperation framework but has no power to bind down the member country which seeks a sole-behavior in the multi-polarizing world. The Lisbon Treaty is the first document which mentions the possibility of framing a common union defence policy. Thus, European Union's defense policies will have to be so adjusted as to be in harmony with the NATO's framework. In order to access the future prospects of the EU, we have to be attentive not only to the internal evolutions of the Union, but to the reactions of other great powers in the nascent multipolar world.

 

The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)

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