Great majority for a parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty

Centre of International Relations

Slovenian government
 
For the Slovenian government, the Lisbon Treaty represents a successful closure of a process which began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and continued with the big-bang enlargement of the EU in 2004, in which Slovenia also played part. Signing of the Lisbon Treaty also ended a period of uncertainty which appeared due to the two negative referenda results in the spring of 2005. The new Treaty brings higher integration of the EU, raises the efficiency of its functioning and brings the Union closer to its citizens. The Lisbon Treaty includes almost all the novelties of the non-ratified Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
 
Due to co-decision by European Parliament and the Council, the Treaty increases the democratic principles of the Union. National parliaments are to be included much more intensively into the legislative procedure with higher authorities. The Charter of fundamental rights is to become legally binding which enables the citizens to profit from an understandable catalogue of fundamental rights. The possibility of a citizen’s petition is pointed out as a positive way of direct people’s participation. A second contribution of the Treaty is therefore to making the functioning of the EU more transparent and understandable.
 
A third positive aspect of the Lisbon Treaty is making the EU more efficient by qualified majority decision-making in the greater part of the issues dealt with in the Council. As the number of the EU parliamentarians will shrink, Slovenia will nevertheless receive an additional parliamentary seat (making 8 MEPs altogether). 
 
Slovenia was a part of the group of 16 member states who gave a Declaration on the symbols of the EU, exposing that the present EU flag, EU anthem and Europe Day shall remain symbols of a common affiliation of the citizens to the EU.
 
Slovenia has set for its goal to try and ratify the Lisbon Treaty as soon as possible (rather among the first), provisionally in January 2008.[1] Eventually, the National Parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty with 74 MPs (out of 90) voting in support and 6 MPs (from the Slovenian National Party and from Lipa – until recently also part of the Slovenian National Party) voting against on 29 January 2008.[2] However, the Slovenian National Party has – after a turndown of a referendum possibility on the ratification made by the Parliament – already demanded for a subsequent legislative referendum on the issue.[3]
 
Slovenian Parliamentary Political Parties
 
In the wake of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Slovenian National Parliament, the attitudes of parliamentary political parties in Slovenia appeared in the media. The following is the summary of those attitudes:
 
·         Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) (coalition party) MP Jožef Jerovšek, who presides over the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy, believes that Slovenian ratification during the Slovenian EU Presidency is a smart move. This is supposed to be in the Slovenian strategic interest, since this would encourage other member states to ratify the treaty. Stalling the ratification could create ‘a two-speed EU’, whereby the big member states would stall the ratification even more. Ratification would therefore bring positive effects especially to small states.
 
·         Liberal Democratic Party (Liberalna Demokracija Slovenije – LDS) (opposition party). The President of LDS Katarina Kresal declared that LDS MPs will support the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty since they believe it strengthens the role of the EU as a global political and economic actor, which is to contribute to a unified image of the EU in the international community. The new Treaty also means a step forward in the institutional development of the EU. LDS proposes for Slovenia to take opportunity from the EU Presidency and encourage other member states to engage themselves to provisional timeframes for the ratification of the Treaty.
 
·         Social Democrats (Socialni Demokrati – SD) (opposition party). SD also welcomes the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The Head of the Parliamentary Group Miran Potrč said that the ratification is only the final stage of the process which began with the Convention on the Future of Europe in 2001. Since the National Parliament already ratified the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (on 1 February 2005), which represents the majority of the new Lisbon (Reform) Treaty text, the ratification should not be questionable. Besides, he adds, at this stage it would be hard to amend or modify anything. Potrč also exposed that the new Treaty brings more influence for Slovenia in terms of decision-making in the EU institutions and one additional MEP. SD also believes the ratification should be a priority of the Slovenian Presidency and that Slovenian ratification would encourage other member states to come closer to a positive decision on the ratification. 
 
·         New Slovenia (Nova Slovenija – NSi) and Slovenian People’s Party (Slovenska ljudska stranka – SLS) (both coalition parties). NSi MP and President of the Parliamentary Committee for EU Affairs Anton Kokalj declared that NSi made a public initiative to the Government and the Parliament to make Slovenia the first to rafity the Treaty. The reason for this should mainly be of a symbolic nature, due to the ratification process being one of the Slovenian Presidency’s priorities. Slovenia should act as a model. According to the Head of the SLS Parliamentary Group Jakob Presečnik, SLS shares this position.[4]
 
·         Slovenian National Party (Slovenska nacionalna stranka – SNS) (opposition party). SNS believes the Lisbon Treaty should be subjected to a referendum. It made a proposal for a referendum question for support of the Lisbon Treaty (the question was formulated very straight forward: "Ali ste za to, da Republika Slovenija ratificira Lizbonsko pogodbo, ki spreminja Pogodbo o Evropski uniji in Pogodbo o ustanovitvi Evropske skupnosti?" – Do you support Slovenian ratification of the Lisbon Treaty which modifies Treaty on the European Union and Treaty establishing the European Community?). The proposal was turned down in the National Parliament, just prior to the vote on the ratification of the Treaty on 29 January 2008. SNS believes the Treaty will bring some changes to the 'rules of the game' upon which people in Slovenia live and should therefore be subject to a referendum.
 
The President of SNS Zmago Jelinčič, MP explained his party’s decision to call for a referendum saying that it is impossible to explain the 271 pages of the document to the people in such a short time and for this reason the ratification process in Slovenia is too hasty.[5]


[1] Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia (2008), Lizbonska pogodba [Lisbon Treaty], available at: http://www.mzz.gov.si/si/zunanja_politika/evropska_unija/lizbonska_pogodba/ (last access: 12 January 2008).

[2] RTV SLO (29 January 2008), Lizbonski pogodbi visoka podpora [High Support to the Lisbon Treaty], available at:
http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sections&func=read&c_me... (last access: 30 January 2008).

[3] RTV SLO (30 January 2008), SNS vztraja pri referendumu [SNS sticks to the referendum], available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sections&func=read&c_me... (last access: 30 January 2008).

[4] RTV SLO (13 December 2007), Hitra ratifikacija pogodbe: Da ali ne? Kaj menijo poslanske skupine o ratifikaciji Lizbonske pogodbe [Fast ratification of the Treaty: Yes or no? Opinions of the Parliamentary Groups on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty], available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sections&func=read&c_me... (last access: 13 January 2008).

[5] RTV SLO (2008), Ovir za lizbonski referendum ni. SNS mora predlog dopolniti [There are no limitations for Lisbon referendum. SNS needs to amend the proposal], Ljubljana, 22 January 2008, available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sections&func=read&c_me... (last access: 22 January 2008).