Amado, Diana and Buchmann, Tobias and Colella, Aurore and Deyanova, Lili and Dienhart, Michaela and Dojcinova, Hristina and Flamm, Laura and Gulbinowicz, Ewelina and Soo-Yeon Jin, Laura and Judge, Niall and Konigs, Claus and Lafitte, Elodie and Muller, Anke and Niemann, Anna and Ozgur, Deniz and Prata, Cristina-Gabriela and Richter, Robert and Roese, Claudia and Rothfuss, Annette and Schroder, Sonja Ana Luise and Speciale, Fabio and Stanojevic, Milos and Staszkiewicz, Maria Zofia and Tosevski, Filip and Trias, Ana and Tunick, Meredith Catherine and Varavkin, Vladimir (2008) Recovering from the constitutional failure. An analysis of the EU reflection period. ZEI Discussion Paper C182 2008. [Discussion Paper]
[From the Introduction]. After the rejection of the European Union’s (EU) Constitutional Treaty in Spring 2005 by both France and the Netherlands, the heads of state and government called for a “reflection period” to provide opportunities to resolve constitutional difficulties, and to further engage Member State citizen populations, national parliaments and political parties. The ultimate aim was to provide sufficient time for Member States to further the Constitutional debate and garner enough support to continue the ratification process. Initially, the reflection period had not been intended to last longer than a year, but in June 2006 the European Council outlined a timeline to reach a solution, extending the deadline until the end of 2008. Through a six-part analysis, this paper will examine how the European Union used its self-imposed “reflection period” to overcome the constitutional deadlock. To begin, the paper will provide a historical overview, including origins of the Constitutional Treaty and the initial signs of tribulations during the referenda process. Given the significance of the treaty rejections in France and the Netherlands, the second part of this paper devotes special attention to public opinion polls and attempts to identify the motivations of French and Dutch voters in their decisions to vote “no.” In the third part, this paper takes a closer look at the three main EU institutions, European Commission, European Parliament and European Council, and attempts to illustrate the actions that were taken in response to their call to “reflect.” This section also briefly describes Member States’ activities during this time. These include various strategies to ensure EU institutions remain both accountable and reliable and establish a long-lasting link between the Union and its citizens. An overview of several academic contributions to the reflection period debate is presented in the fourth section. Research activities related to this discussion are presented in summary form from a selection of key European research institutes. In the fifth section of analysis, the EU Council Presidency debates are addressed. This section attempts to highlight the discrepancies that existed between the public debate and the negotiations occurring behind the “closed doors” of Member State governments. As the Lisbon Treaty (i.e. Reform Treaty) was the result of this government bargaining process, the sixth and final section of this paper summarizes the content of the Lisbon Treaty and provides a short comparison of its changes to the modifications envisaged in the Constitutional Treaty.
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