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Denmark: Court Determines Lisbon Treaty Signing Constitutional

(June 20, 2012) On June 15, 2012, Denmark's Eastern High Court ruled that the country's government need not have held a referendum before signing the Treaty of Lisbon. The decision came in response to a class action lawsuit that had been filed in 2009, in reference to Denmark's 2007 signing of the Treaty. The suit, lodged by 34 people, argued that because the Treaty affected Danish sovereignty on a number of issues, it should have been submitted to a referendum. (High Court: Lisbon Treaty Signing Not Unconstitutional, THE COPENHAGEN POST (June 16, 2012).)

The Lisbon Treaty entered into force on December 1, 2009, and, according to the Europa website, it “amends the current EU and EC treaties, without replacing them. It provides the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens' demands.” (The Treaty at a Glance, EUROPA (last visited June 18, 2012); Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007, 2007 O.J. (C306) 1, available at EURLEX.)

Following the recent decision, Ole Krarup, the lawyer for the class action and a former Member of Parliament for the party Folkebevægelsen mod EU (People's Movement Against the EU), expressed disappointment, saying that the decision would be appealed to the Supreme Court. He added, “[t]his shows that the courts don't dare to contradict the government.” (High Court: Lisbon Treaty Signing Not Unconstitutional, supra.)

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal said they “noted the Eastern High Court's verdict with satisfaction, which states that parliament did not violate any laws when it implemented legislation regarding Denmark's accession to the treaty.” (Id.) Both Ministers were members of the opposition at the time of the accession. (Id.)