Thinking about the Recent Past and the Future of the EU


  • This article is based on the JCMS lecture given by the author at the EUSA Conference in Montreal on 17 May 2007. The author would like to thank Sven Oliver Proksch and Lisa Blaydes for their help.

George Tsebelis
University of Michigan


After the referendums in France and the Netherlands, the European Union was in disarray. However, political elites in all countries were insisting in the adoption of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, which in turn was a slight modification of the text adopted in the European Convention. The solution was found in the IGC of Brussels in 2007, where the substance of the Treaty was adopted, and symbolic details (flag, anthem) were dropped out. The article explains the impact of the institutions adopted in the Convention, and argues that these institutions would help political decision-making in the EU. It then explains how such significant results became possible (because of the important role of the Presidium in terms of agenda-setting). Finally it argues that the text of the Constitution became a focal point for all negotiating governments. This is why elites came back to it despite the public disapproval of the referendums.