RECON Online Working Paper 2011/38

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Moving Away from Unanimity

Ratification of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union


Carlos Closa Montero (Spanish National Research Council, CISC)



The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (TSCG) removes the unanimity requirement for entry into force. This innovation is possible because, technically, the TSCG I not an EU Treaty. It is not constructed as a reform of the EU Treaties following Article 48 which prescribes unanimity. So far, EU treaty revision is firmly locked in the unanimity requirement creating a Catch-22 situation: unanimity can only be removed unanimously. This, together with an adherence to a ‘strict construction’ in the interpretation of EU law and the relative absence of instances of ratification failures may explain the permanence of the requirement. As the basic rule of constitution-making, several criticisms can be launched against unanimity.

This paper discusses the rule of unanimity in three parts: it presents, firstly, the origins and maintenance of the rule through the EU’s successive treaty reforms, as well as the theoretical alternatives proposed.  The second part of the paper raises various arguments against unanimity: the factual outcome of the practice of unanimity, its effect on the model of constitutional rules of the Union, the issue of consent and the possibility of externalising the effects of unanimity. The third part presents and discusses the provisions in the existing draft on a reinforced economic union. The conclusion argues in favour of any rule short of unanimity, since its most important property will be to transform the dynamics of the ratification process.



Constitution Building — Constitutional Change — European Union Law — Political Science — Treaty Reform — Unanimity


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