Stable structures benefit from crisis whilst unstable ones tend to be destroyed by them. The EU was born from a big crisis named 2nd World War and has been forged crisis by crisis. Following the saying “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” I have no doubt that the EU will come out stronger of the new crisis generated by the Irish NO to the Lisbon treaty.
Democracy is based on conflict and discussion to find the consensus that can bring the best outcome to the citizens. If you want gain without pain authoritarian regimes can deliver the best solution. Countries like Libia, China or Russia don’t have to debate the ratification of treaties bringing more democracy and transparency to the country… however, I still prefer our “crisis”.
It is true that the EU is sometimes too far away from the citizens, that the heads of state say at home the opposite of what they say in Brussels, that the EU is sometimes too elitist… but with or without Lisbon treaty the EU will continue to be the most successful intend to overcome nationalist interest and achieve lasting peace in the European continent. Therefore it is the procedure and not the content of the project what should be questioned.
Federalists and other sensible groups suggested from the beginning that the European Constitution should not be ratified with unanimity because that would block the process if only one country would say NO. The French and the Dutch said no and the process was blocked. Then they watered down the text and tried again with the same stubborn system that will give to any national democracy the capacity to stop the European democratic process.
Legally speaking the text should not go on if only one country opposes it, this is the virtue of unanimity! However it looks like the European leaders will decide to move on disregarding the Irish vote. This is unfortunate but necessary. The EU needs to get the institutional reforms out of the way as soon as possible and focus on delivering to the citizens. Whatever the way we get there from here will be neither entirely democratic nor highly undemocratic; I believe the content of the treaty improves European democracy but the ratification procedure by unanimity undermines it. From the democratic point of view it can be justified to move on with the implementation as soon as the majority of citizens and majority of member states ratify the text.
With the current situation and with the Council running the show I’m convinced we won’t get any better democratic system to ratify the text, hence the need to get it out of the way as soon as possible. The longer it takes to solve this ratification problem the more the people will doubt about European project. In any case, this “crisis” won’t destroy the European project, it can delay it instead. However the climate change and food, financial and energy crisis can be a lot more harmful for Europe if not faced with the right equipment. The Lisbon treaty better equips the EU to face the challenges of the 21st century and should enter into force in the countries that ratified it as soon as a majority of citizens and states approve it.