Addressing the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels March 2009 Minister Dick Roche said everything we do in relation to the European Union is, and needs to be, underpinned by the support of our citizens. The support of Europe’s citizens is expressed through their governments and the representatives they elect to the European Parliament. That is what gives the EU its unique democratic legitimacy. No other international entity can compare with the EU in the depth of its democratic underpinning. No International Treaty has ever been produced in a more democratic way than the Constitutional Treaty and its successor the Lisbon Treaty.

Europe needs Lisbon and Ireland needs Europe.

It is self-evident that, as the European project has developed and progressed over the years, so too have the treaties which sustain the Union. For more than fifty years the Union has evolved significantly - from its coal and steel roots, to a single market of almost 500 million people, encompassing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.

With the democratic approval of its Member States, the Union has grown, developed and transformed from its original six Members to a Union traversing the continent, with 27 Member States today. The necessity for the original treaties to be adapted to these new realities has become apparent, I believe, to all but the most myopic or the most extreme Eurosceptics.

This process which produced the Constitutional Treaty and its successor the
Lisbon Treaty were intensely democratic. The process has been without precedent in the history of the Union, both for its duration and, crucially, the extent of democratic participation. It was also the most open process in the Union’s history. Much that is now in the Treaty of Lisbon emerged from the work of the European Convention, which entailed the most innovative approach to Treaty change which the Union has yet taken.

The Treaty of Lisbon can truly be said to comprehensively represent the shared and consistent view of all Member States on the best way forward for the Union.
Unlike Nice and Amsterdam, Lisbon contains no ‘left-over’s’. It does not point the way to a further process of Treaty change. There is now a broad consensus to the effect that Lisbon gives the Union viable institutions and arrangements that can be expected to pass the test of time. It is a Treaty built to last.

It is designed to underpin a Union of 27 and beyond. The institutional changes it makes should equip Europe well to deal with the challenges it faces in the years ahead. The policy mix it contains points the Union towards the future. It will create a more democratic and accountable Union, with an enhanced role for elected representatives at both EU and national levels, and a greater engagement by citizens. That is why Europe needs Lisbon and why Ireland needs to support Lisbon” concluded Minister Roche