Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Why do we need the Lisbon Treaty urgently?

Adelina Marini, January 6, 2009

In the end of the French Presidency of the EU, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy hinted and even said it straightforward that maybe the EU should think of a mechanism which would give France a chance to continue its influence on the next six months, chaired by the Czech Republic. One of the main arguments for this French idea was not only the desire of the French president to rule. A very serious reason is the fact that the Czech Republic has almost no experience, especially on an international level. This was clearly proved by the blunder the Czech foreign minister made before his country took the Presidency and than his spokesman repeated it on the first day of the Presidency. They declared that the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip is a result of Israel’s defense policy. Such blunders the EU should very ardently avoid and should run from them as the Devil from the incense.

I’m almost convinced that the French president had in mind exactly such a case when suggesting his idea. There is one more very important aspect to the idea for an old member state to oversee the Presidency of a new member - imagine Bulgaria has taken the chairmanship on the 1st of January in a moment when the conflict in the Middle East develops in a non-predictable way and when the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis, though cyclic is exasperating.

Have you managed to imagine this? Not yet? Then remember how the Bulgarian president Georghi Parvanov visited several countries with significant gas resources like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and so on. He shot a very rare goat species - arhar. In the same time just when Ukraine stopped the gas for Bulgaria, the president couldn’t do anything but call for reasonable spending of gas. Beside this Bulgaria appeared to be the only member to the EU which did not file a complaint in the European Commission for the gas shortages, although the executive director of the gas company “Bulgargaz” warned in due time about the problem. This coincided with the Czech Republic taking over the EU Presidency from France. In a statement the Czech Presidency said that there is no less gas just less pressure. Of course, such discrepancies are subject of simple calculations with the inclusion of the factor time - in other words - simple physics: how much of something could pass through a single spot in previously defined time. This would give the answer to the problem - was the quantity less or the pressure. Let’s go back to the perspective of Bulgaria being the EU president. One of the possible reasons why Sofia did not file a complaint in the European Commission for the gas shortage, especially taking into account the fact that Bulgaria is one of the most dependent from Russian natural gas European countries, could be the extremely warm relations the present government has with Moscow. Obviously these relations are onesided since Russia did not cry much for the cold on Bulgaria and at this stage the Bulgarian prime minister managed just to ask phone conversations with his colleagues in Kiev and Moscow.

It would have also be quite interesting if Bulgaria was president of the EU in a moment when most of the EU funds for Bulgaria have been frozen because of corruption. Can you imagine the Presidency being on a visit in the candidate countries Croatia and Macedonia telling their government that they might not manage to joint the EU because of lack of progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime? Or you could imagine a session of the European ministers of regional development for example with main topic the budget for regional development for next year. The Bulgarian minister of regional development Assen Gagausov will chair such a session and he will have to be very ashamed because his country would probably be the only one that will not be included in the planning of the budget because of the frozen funds. There were so many accusations and suspicions for corruption in the process of choosing a company for big infrastructure project. I also imagine a session of the ministers of agriculture, chaired by the Bulgarian minister of agriculture Valeri Tsvetanov, who was very happy for the whisky protesting farmers gave to him while in the same times the farmers do not have access to money from SAPARD nor to money from the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) because a lot of money was stolen and because of unsolved problems in the Paying Agency.

Should I list more problems? I don’t think so. This is more than enough to show clearly how important the Lisbon Treaty is and how it should come into force urgently so that countries like Bulgaria are not given the chance to chair the European Union. As we see it will not be easy with the Czech Republic leading the way through times of numerous crises and probably this was the reason why the French president went to the Middle East separately so as to protect French interests. But if we start protecting our own interests separately why do we need the EU at all and why does the world need the EU?