Quoted at Libertas, several European leaders tell the story of the Lisbon treaty. Nicolas Sarkozy says the (rejected) EU constitution couldn’t have passed anywhere if voted on by the people:
France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting No. It would happen in all Member States if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments.
How is the Lisbon treaty different? In substance, not at all, says the Irish foreign minister:
The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term ‘constitution’.
Angela Merkel agrees:
The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact.
So how is it different? Deliberate obscurity, the Belgian Foreign Minister explains:
The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable… The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (former French President and chairman of the EU constitutional convention) expands:
The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … the proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary.
The bottom line, again from d’Estaing:
Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly.
(Via the Volokh Conspiracy.)