A stone plaque in Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal’s capital marks where the Lisbon Treaty was signed almost two years ago. For the leaders of the 27 European Union member states, this was a repeat attempt to reform the institutions of the bloc to work better, after the EU’s draft constitution, before it, was rejected in French and Dutch referendums.
Euronews correspondent Maria Barradas, in Lisbon, said: “In the two years it took to ratify the treaty, it was not certain it would ever be used. Now that this is happening, we’ve come to talk to the Portuguese Prime Minister.” Prime Minister Jose Socrates: “I never doubted the Treaty of Lisbon would come into force. Sure it took time but that happens with all treaties that have to be ratified by 27 countries. We had obstacles, difficulties, but we had the political determination to go forward. It’s very important that the world understand that all this was a concerted effort. It’s a difficult treaty but we’ve made it to the end, and this, without a doubt, represents an indisputable political victory for Europe. I would have been enormously frustrated if the ratification hadn’t materialised.” The monastery was built as a symbol of the age of discovery 400 years ago. Reactions from the people of the city of Lisbon today carry suggestions of moderate expectation for the future: “I think it’s important for the country. It makes us look good. But we can’t really say if the results will be good or bad.” “The importance of the treaty signing here in Lisbon is relative. The treaty is associated with the country it’s signed in. But the content counts for more. I think the country is secondary.” Scholars say that, in an increasingly interdependent world with ever-present competition, the treaty will need not only political support but also popular participation.