Review by Anthony Coughlan
Review of Jens-Peter Bonde’s Reader-friendly edition of the Lisbon Treaty, written by Anthony Coughlan.
Anthony Coughlan is Secretary of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Ireland, and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin.
The Reader-Friendly Edition of the Lisbon Treaty produced by Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde and his legal team is a profound service to Irish citizens as they face into their referendum in June.
It is a service also to the near 500 million people of the European Union who have little or no idea of how the Treaty of Lisbon will transform the EU that was established by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty into a constitutionally quite new Union founded on the Lisbon Treaty, turning themselves in the process into real European citizens, and not just notional or honorary ones as at present.
In this Reader-Friendly Edition what the Treaty of Lisbon takes out of the existing European Treaties is written in italic and strikethrough, and what it adds to them is shown in bold. This enables the reader to see at a glance the deletions and the additions that would be made by Lisbon. Without such a way of presenting this vast amount of complex information, it is impossible to understand what the Lisbon Treaty does
As Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht said of the Lisbon Treaty last year: “The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable. The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.” This Reader-Friendly Edition goes some way to undoing the work of the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents as they seek to conceal from their own peoples the constitutional revolution which the Lisbon Treaty seeks to bring about in the European Union and its 27 Member States.
The Index is the most valuable thing in the book. In its detail it is much superior to that to be found in any other comparable edition of the Treaties. By using it Irish voters will be able to find out in a few seconds for themselves the changes which Lisbon would make in the matters they are interested in, whether it is tax, neutrality, abortion, the rotating Commission, climate change or the many other issues now surfacing in Ireland’s referendum debate.
The Reader-Friendly Edition is a strictly neutral and objective work which will be welcomed alike by supporters and opponents of the Lisbon Treaty. In compiling it Bonde, who has been an MEP since the first direct elections to the Parliament in 1979 and who will retire from it on 9 May, Europe Day, is making a worthy addition to the 40 or so books that he has written on EU matters over the years, including earlier Reader-Friendly Editions of the Nice Treaty and the EU Constitution.