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The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is a treaty that was signed by the European Union (EU) member states on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009. It amends the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht; 1992) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome; 1957). In this process, the TEC was renamed to Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Prominent changes included more qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, increased involvement of the European Parliamentmarker in the legislative process through extended codecision with the Council of Ministers, the elimination of the pillar system and the creation of a long-term President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present a united position on EU policies. The Treaty also made the Union's human rights charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding.

The stated aim of the treaty was "to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam [1997] and by the Treaty of Nice [2001] with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action." Opponents of the Treaty of Lisbon, such as the British think tank Open Europe and former Danish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jens-Peter Bonde, argued that it would centralise the EU, and weaken democracy by moving power away from national electorates.

Negotiations to modify EU institutions began in 2001, resulting first in the European Constitution, which failed due to rejection by French and Dutch voters in 2005. After some modifications the Lisbon Treaty was proposed as an amendment of the existing Treaties which implemented many of the reforms included in the European Constitution. It was originally intended to have been ratified by all member states by the end of 2008. This timetable failed, primarily due to the initial rejection of the Treaty in 2008 by the Irishmarker electorate, a decision which was reversed in a second referendum in 2009.

History

Background

The need to review the EU's constitutional framework, particularly in light of the accession of ten new Member States in 2004, was highlighted in a declaration annexed to the Treaty of Nice in 2001. The agreements at Nice had paved the way for further enlargement of the Union by reforming voting procedures. The Laeken declaration of December 2001 committed the EU to improving democracy, transparency and efficiency, and set out the process by which a constitution aiming to achieve these goals could be created. The European Convention was established, presided over by former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and was given the task of consulting as widely as possible across Europe with the aim of producing a first draft of the Constitution. The final text of the proposed Constitution was agreed upon at the summit meeting on 18–19 June 2004 under the presidency of Ireland.

The Constitution, having been agreed by heads of government from the 25 Member States, was signed at a ceremony in Rome on 29 October 2004. Before it could enter into force, however, it had to be ratified by each member state. Ratification took different forms in each country, depending on the traditions, constitutional arrangements, and political processes of each country. In 2005, referendums held in the Netherlands and France rejected the European Constitution. While the majority of the Member States already had ratified the European Constitution (mostly through parliamentary ratification, although Spain and Luxembourg held referenda), due to the requirement of unanimity to amend the constitutional treaties of the EU, it became clear that it could not enter into force. This led to a "period of reflection" and the political end of the proposed European Constitution.

New impetus



In 2007, Germany took over the rotating EU Presidency and declared the period of reflection over. By March, the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the Berlin Declaration was adopted by all Member States. This declaration outlined the intention of all Member States to agree on a new treaty in time for the 2009 Parliamentary elections, that is to have a ratified treaty before mid-2009.

Already before the Berlin Declaration, the Amato Group (officially the Action Committee for European Democracy, ACED) a group of European politicians, backed by the Barroso Commission with two representatives in the group – worked unofficially on rewriting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (EU Constitution). On 4 June 2007, the group released their text in French – cut from 63,000 words in 448 articles in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe to 12,800 in 70 articles. In the Berlin Declaration, the EU leaders unofficially set a new timeline for the new treaty;

*21–23 June 2007: European Council meeting in Brussels, mandate for Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)
*23 July 2007: IGC in Lisbon, text of Reform Treaty
*7–8 September 2007: Foreign Ministers’ meeting
*18–19 October 2007: European Council in Lisbon, final agreement on Reform Treaty
*13 December 2007: Signing in Lisbon
*1 January 2009: Intended date of entry into force


Drafting

June European Council

On 21 June 2007, the European Council of heads of states or governments met in Brusselsmarker to agree upon the foundation of a new treaty to replace the rejected Constitution. The meeting took place under the German Presidency of the EU, with Chancellor Angela Merkel leading the negotiations as President-in-Office of the European Council. After dealing with other issues, such as deciding on the accession of Cyprusmarker and Maltamarker to the Eurozone, negotiations on the Treaty took over and lasted until the morning of 23 June 2007. The hardest part of the negotiations was reported to be Poland's insistence on square root voting in the Council of Ministers.

Agreement was reached on a 16-page mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference, that proposed removing much of the constitutional terminology and many of the symbols from the old European Constitution text. In addition it was agreed to recommend to the IGC that the provisions of the old European Constitution should be amended in certain key aspects (such as voting or foreign policy). Due to pressure from the United Kingdom and Poland, it was also decided to add a protocol to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (clarifying that it did not extend the rights of the courts to overturn domestic law in Britain or Poland). Among the specific changes were greater ability to opt-out in certain areas of legislation and that the proposed new voting system that was part of the European Constitution would not be used before 2014 (see Provisions below).

In the June meeting, the name 'Reform Treaty' also emerged, finally clarifying that the Constitutional approach was abandoned. Technically it was agreed that the Reform Treaty would amend both the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) to include most provisions of the European Constitution, however not to combine them into one document. It was also agreed to rename the Treaty establishing the European Community, which is the main functional agreement including most of the substantive provisions of European primary law, to "Treaty on the Functioning of the Union". In addition it was agreed, that unlike the European Constitution where a Charter was part of the document, there would only be a reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to make that text legally binding. After the council, Poland indicated they wished to re-open some areas. During June, Poland's Prime Minister had controversially stated that Poland would have a substantially larger population were it not for World War II. Another issue was that Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende succeeded in a greater role for national parliaments in the EU decision making process, as he declared this to be non-negotiable for Dutch agreement.

Intergovernmental Conference

Portugal had pressed and supported Germany to reach an agreement on a mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) under their presidency. After the June negotiations and final settlement on a 16-page framework for the new Reform Treaty, the Intergovernmental conference on actually drafting the new treaty commenced on 23 July 2007. The IGC opened following a short ceremony. The Portuguese presidency presented a 145 page document (with an extra 132 pages of 12 protocols and 51 declarations) entitled the Draft Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community and made it available on the Council of Ministers website as a starting point for the drafting process.

In addition to government representatives and legal scholars from each member state, the European Parliament sent three representatives. These were conservative Elmar Brok, social democratic Enrique Baron Crespo and liberal Andrew Duff.

Before the opening of the IGC, the Polish government expressed a desire to renegotiate the June agreement, notably over the voting system, but relented under political pressure by most other Member States, due to a desire not to be seen as the sole trouble maker over the negotiations.

October European Council

The October European Council, led by Portugal's Prime Minister and then President-in-Office of the European Council, José Sócrates, consisted of legal experts from all Member States scrutinising the final drafts of the Treaty. During the council, it became clear that the Reform Treaty would be called Treaty of Lisbon because its signing would take place in Lisbonmarker, Portugal being the holder of presidency of the European Union at the time.

At the European Council meeting on 18 October and 19 October 2007 in Lisbon, a few last-minute concessions were made to ensure the signing of the treaty. That included giving Poland a slightly stronger wording for the revived Ioannina Compromise, plus a nomination for an additional Advocate General at the European Court of Justice. The creation of the permanent "Polish" Advocate General was formally permitted by an increase of the number of Advocates General from 8 to 11.

Signing



At the meeting of the European Council in October 2007, Portugalmarker insisted that the Treaty (then called the 'Reform Treaty') be signed in Lisbonmarker, the Portuguese capital. This request was granted, and the Treaty was thus to be called the Treaty of Lisbon, in line with the tradition of European Union treaties. The Portuguese presidency was appointed to the job of organising the programme for a signing ceremony.

The signing of the Treaty of Lisbon took place in Lisbon, Portugal on 13 December 2007. The Government of Portugal, by virtue of holding Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the time, arranged a ceremony inside the 15th century Jerónimos Monasterymarker, the same place Portugal's treaty of accession to the European Union (EU) was signed in 1985. Representatives from the 27 EU member states were present, and signed the Treaty as plenipotentiaries, marking the end of treaty negotiations. In addition, for the first time an EU treaty was also signed by the presidents of the three main EU institutions.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdommarker did not take part in the main ceremony, and instead signed the treaty separately a number of hours after the other delegates. A requirement to appear before a committee of British MPs was cited as the reason for his absence.

Ratification

Order in which countries ratified the Treaty (become green).
All EU member states had to ratify the Treaty before it could enter into law. A national ratification was completed and registered when the instruments of ratification were lodged with the government of Italy. The month following the deposition of the last national ratification saw the Treaty enter into force across the EU.

The Hungarianmarker legislature was the first to approve the treaty, which it did on 17 December 2007. Under the original timetable set by the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2007, the Treaty was scheduled to be fully ratified by the end of 2008, thus entering into force on 1 January 2009. This plan failed however, primarily due to the initial rejection of the Treaty in 2008 by the Irishmarker electorate in a referendum, a decision which was reversed in a second referendum in 2009. Irelandmarker, as required by its constitution, was the only member state to hold referendums on the Treaty. The Czech instrument of ratification was the last to be deposited in Rome on 13 November 2009. Therefore, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009.

Functioning

As an amending treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon is not intended to be read as an autonomous text. It consists of a number of amendments to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, the latter being renamed 'Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union' in the process. The Treaty on European Union would, after being amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, provide a reference to the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, making that document legally binding. The Treaty on European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental rights would have equal legal value and combined constitute the European Union's legal basis.

A typical amendment in Treaty of Lisbon text is:

The Commission has published a consolidated text (in each community language) which shows the previous Treaties as revised by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Fundamental Rights Charter

The fifty-five articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (ChFR) list political, social and economic rights for EU citizens. It is intended to make sure that European Union regulations and directives do not contradict the European Convention on Human Rights which is ratified by all EU Member States (and to which the EU as a whole would accede under the Treaty of Lisbon). In the rejected EU Constitution it was integrated into the text of the treaty and was legally binding. The UK, as one of the two countries with a common law legal system in the EU, and a largely uncodified Constitution, was against making it legally binding over domestic law. The suggestion by the German presidency that a single reference to it with a single article in the amended treaties, maintaining that it should be legally binding, was implemented. Nevertheless, in an attached protocol, Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom have opt-outs from these provisions of the treaty. Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union elevates the Charter to the same legal value as the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Amendments

Summary

with a 2½ year term de facto

replacing the rotating presidency.
from 2000 made legally binding.
increasing the EU's competence

to sign treaties.
officially from the Council of Ministers.

Legislative meetings of the Council

of Ministers to be held in public.
by extending codecision with the Council

of Ministers to more areas of policy.
to new areas of policy in the

European Council and the

Council of Ministers, from 2014 on.
by expanding scrutiny-time of

legislation and enabling them to

jointly compel the Commission

to review or withdraw legislation.
  • Mutual solidarity obliged
if a member state is object of a

terrorist attack or the victim of a

natural or man-made disaster.
  • Citizens' petitions
to be considered by the

Commissionmarker if signed by

1 million citizens.
explicitly stated as an objective.


Central Bank

The European Central Bank gained the official status of being an EU institution. On a related topic, the euro became the official currency of the Union (though not affecting opt-outs or the enlargement of the eurozone).

Court of Justice

The Treaty of Lisbon will rename the Court of Justice of the European Communities the 'Court of Justice of the European Union'.

A new 'emergency' procedure will be introduced into the preliminary reference system, which will allow the Court of Justice to act "with the minimum of delay" when a case involves an individual in custody.

The ECJ's jurisdiction will continue to be excluded from matters of foreign policy, though it will have new jurisdiction to review foreign policy sanction measures. It will also have jurisdiction over certain 'Area of Freedom, Security and Justice' (AFSJ) matters not concerning policing and criminal cooperation.

Court of First Instance

The Court of First Instance will be renamed the 'General Court'.

Council of Ministers

Voting weights in both the
Council of Ministers and the European Council
member state Nice Lisbon
votes % pop. in
millions
%
29 8.4% 82 16.5%
29 8.4% 64 12.9%
29 8.4% 62 12.4%
29 8.4% 60 12.0%
27 7.8% 45 9.0%
27 7.8% 38 7.6%
14 4.1% 21 4.3%
13 3.8% 17 3.3%
12 3.5% 11 2.2%
12 3.5% 11 2.1%
12 3.5% 11 2.1%
12 3.5% 10 2.1%
12 3.5% 10 2.0%
10 2.9% 9.2 1.9%
10 2.9% 8.3 1.7%
10 2.9% 7.6 1.5%
7 2.0% 5.5 1.1%
7 2.0% 5.4 1.1%
7 2.0% 5.3 1.1%
7 2.0% 4.5 0.9%
7 2.0% 3.3 0.7%
4 1.2% 2.2 0.5%
4 1.2% 2.0 0.4%
4 1.2% 1.3 0.3%
4 1.2% 0.87 0.2%
4 1.2% 0.49 0.1%
3 0.9% 0.41 0.1%
total 345 100% 498 100%
required majority 255 74% 324 65%


The treaty will expand the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers by having it replace unanimity as the standard voting procedure in almost every policy area. A qualified majority is reached when at least 55% of all member countries, of whom 65% of EU citizens are represented, vote in favour of a proposal. When the Council of Ministers is not acting on a proposal of the Commission, or High Representative, the necessary majority of all member countries is increased to 72% while the population requirement stays the same. To block legislation at least 4 countries (representing more than 35% of EU population) have to be against the proposal. The weights of the individual countries are based on their population only, not on the votes (as were under the Nice Treaty).

The current Nice treaty voting rules that include a majority of countries (50% / 67%), voting weights (74%) and population (62%) will remain in place until 2014. Between 2014 and 2017 a transitional phase will take place where the new qualified majority voting rules apply, but where the old Nice treaty voting weights can be applied when a member state wishes so. Also from 2014 a new version of the 1994 "Ioannina Compromise" will take effect, which allows small minorities of EU states to call for re-examination of EU decisions they do not like.

The treaty instructs that legislative procedural meetings (that include debate and voting) in the Council of Ministers will be held in public (televised).

The Council of Ministers will have an 18-month rotating Presidency shared by a trio of Member States, with the purpose of providing more continuity. Three successive presidencies forming a 'triple presidency' will work together over a one and a half year period. The exception will be the Council's Foreign Affairs configuration, which will be chaired by the newly created post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (see below).

European Council

The European Council will officially gain the status of an EU institution, thus being separated from the Council of Ministers. It will continue to be composed of the heads of state or government of the Union's member states along with the (nonvoting) President of the European Commission.

A President of the European Council will be appointed for a two and a half year term in a qualified majority vote of the European Council. A President could be reappointed once, and besides be removed by the same voting procedure. Unlike the post of President of the European Commission, the appointment of the President of the European Council does not have to reflect the composition of the European Parliamentmarker. The President's work will largely be administrative, as he or she will be responsible for coordinating the work of the European Council, hosting its meetings and reporting its activities to the European Parliamentmarker after each meeting and at the beginning and end of his or her term. Additionally, the President will provide external representation to the Union.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council will have a greater say over police and justice planning, foreign policy and constitutional matters, including: the composition of the Parliament and Commission; matters relating to the rotating presidency; the suspension of membership rights; changing the voting systems in the treaties bridging clauses; and nominating the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The High Representative, along with the new post of President, are the only formal changes in composition. Further more, under the emergency break procedure, a state may refer contentious legislation from the Council of Ministers to the European Council if it is outvoted in the Council of Ministers, notwithstanding that it may still be outvoted in the European Council.

Parliament

MEPs]] under the Lisbon Treaty
member state 2007 2009 Lisbon
99 99 96
78 72 74
78 72 73
78 72 73
54 50 54
54 50 51
35 33 33
27 25 26
24 22 22
24 22 22
24 22 22
24 22 22
24 22 22
19 18 20
18 17 19
18 17 18
14 13 13
14 13 13
14 13 13
13 12 12
13 12 12
9 8 9
7 7 8
6 6 6
6 6 6
6 6 6
5 5 6
total 785 736 751


The legislative power of the European Parliamentmarker will increase, as the codecision procedure with the Council of Ministers is extended to new areas of policy. This procedure will also be slightly modified and renamed ordinary legislative procedure.



In the few remaining areas, called "special legislative procedures", Parliament will either have the right of consent to a Council of Ministers measure, or vice-versa, except in the few cases where the old Consultation procedure applied, wherein the Council of Ministers will need to consult the European Parliament before voting on the Commission proposal and take its views into account. It will not be bound by the Parliament's position but only by the obligation to consult it. Parliament would need to be consulted again if the Council of Ministers deviated too far from the initial proposal.

The Commission will have to submit each proposed budget of the European Union directly to Parliament, which must approve the budget in its entirety.

The Treaty will change the way in which MEP seats are apportioned among member states. Rather than setting out a precise number (as it was the case in every previous treaty), the Treaty of Lisbon gives the power to the Council of Ministers, acting unanimously on the initiative of the Parliament and with its consent, to adopt a decision fixing the number of MEPs for each member state. Moreover the treaty provides for the number of MEPs to be digressively proportional to the number of citizens of each member state. A draft decision fixing the apportionment of MEPs was annexed to the treaty itself and had Lisbon been in force at the time of 2009 European Parliament elections the apportionment would have been:

The number of MEPs will be limited to 750, in addition to the President of the Parliament. Additionally, the Treaty of Lisbon will reduce the maximum number of MEPs from each member state from 99 to 96 (affects Germany) and increases the minimal number from 5 to 6 (affects Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta).

National parliaments

The Treaty of Lisbon will expand the role of Member States' parliaments in the legislative processes of EU institutions, giving them a greater role in responding to new applications for membership. National parliaments will be able to veto measures furthering judicial cooperation in civil matters.

When the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, national parliaments are to contribute to the good functioning of the Union through receiving draft EU legislation, seeing to it that the principle of subsidiarity is respected, taking part in the evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the Union policies in the area of freedom, security and justice, being involved in the political monitoring of Europol and the evaluation of Eurojust's activities, being notified of applications for EU accession, taking part in the inter-parliamentary cooperation between national parliaments and with the European Parliamentmarker.

The Treaty of Lisbon allows national parliaments eight weeks to study legislative proposals made by the European Commissionmarker and decide whether to send a reasoned opinion stating why the national parliament considers it to be incompatible with the principle of subsidiarity. National parliaments may vote to have the measure reviewed. If one third (or one quarter, where the proposed EU measure concerns freedom, justice and security) of national parliaments are in favour of a review, the Commission would have to review the measure and if it decides to maintain it, must give a reasoned opinion to the Union legislator as to why it considers the measure to be compatible with subsidiarity.

Commission

The Commission of the European Communitiesmarker will officially be renamed European Commission.

The Treaty of Lisbon stated that the size of the Commission will reduce from one per member state to one for two thirds of member states from 2014. This would have ended the arrangement which has existed since 1957 of having at least one Commission for each Member State at all times. However, the Treaty also provided that the European Council could unanimously decide to alter this number. Following the Irish referendum, the European Council decided in December 2008 to revert to one Commissioner per member state with effect from the date of entry into force of the Treaty.

The person holding the new post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will automatically also be a Vice-President of the Commission.

Foreign relations and security

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

In an effort to ensure greater coordination and consistency in EU foreign policy, the Treaty of Lisbon will create a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, de facto merging the post of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy. The new High Representative will also become a Vice-President of the Commission, the administrator of the European Defence Agency but not the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, which will become a separate post. He or she will have a right to propose defence or security missions. In the proposed constitution this post was called the Union Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be in charge of an External Action Service that also is created by the Treaty of Lisbon. This will essentially be a common Foreign Office or Diplomatic Corps for the Union.

Mutual solidarity

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, Member States should assist if a member state is subject to a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster (but any joint military action is subject to the provisions of Article 31 of the consolidated Treaty of European Union, which recognises various national concerns). In addition, several provisions of the treaties have been amended to include solidarity in matters of energy supply and changes to the energy policy within the EU.

Prospects for a common defence

The treaty foresees that the European Security and Defence Policy will lead to a common defence agreement for the EU if and when the European Council resolves unanimously to do so and provided that all member states give their approval through their usual constitutional procedures.

Defence and security becomes available to enhanced co-operation.

Legal personality and pillar consolidation

Under the existing treaties, the EU comprises a system of three legal pillars, of which only the European Community pillar has its own legal personality. When the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, the pillar system will be abolished, and the European Union be a consolidated body with a legal personality. Furthermore, the Treaty on European Union will state that "The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community." Hence, the existing names of EU bodies will have the word 'Community' removed (e.g. the de facto title 'European Commission' will become official, replacing its treaty name of 'Commission of the European Communities'.)

Defined policy areas

In the Lisbon Treaty the distribution of competences in various policy areas between Member States and the Union is explicitly stated in the following three categories:

Enlargement and secession

A proposal to enshrine the Copenhagen Criteria for further enlargement in the treaty was not fully accepted as there were fears it will lead to Court of Justice judges having the last word on who could join the EU, rather than political leaders.

The treaty introduces an exit clause for members wanting to withdraw from the Union. This formalises the procedure by stating that a member state must inform the European Council before it can terminate its membership. While there has been one instance where a territory has ceased to be part of the Community (Greenland in 1985), there is currently no regulated opportunity to exit the European Union.

A new provision in the Treaty of Lisbon is that the status of French, Dutch and Danish overseas territories can be changed more easily, by no longer requiring a full treaty revision. Instead, the European Council may, on the initiative of the member state concerned, change the status of an overseas country or territory (OCT) to an outermost region (OMR) or vice versa. This provision was included on a proposal by the Netherlands, which is investigating the future of the Netherlands Antillesmarker and Arubamarker in the European Union as part of an institutional reform process that is currently taking place in the Netherlands Antilles.

Revision procedures

The Lisbon Treaty will create two different ways for further amendments of the European Union treaties. An ordinary revision procedure which is broadly similar to the present process in that it involves convening an intergovernmental conference. And a simplified revision procedure whereby Part three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which deals with internal policy and action of the Union, could be amended by a unanimous decision of the European Council subject to ratification by all member states in the usual manner.

The Treaty also provides for an "umbrella clause" which allows the European Council to unanimously decide to move from unanimous voting to qualified majority voting, and move from a special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure.

Ordinary revision procedure

  1. Proposals to amend the treaties are submitted by a Member State, the European Parliament or the European Commission to the Council of Ministers who, in turn, submit them to the European Council and notify member states. There are no limits on what kind of amendments can be proposed.
  2. The European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, votes to consider the proposals on the basis of a simple majority, and then either:
    • The President of the European Council convenes a convention containing representatives of national parliaments, governments, the European Parliament and the European Commission, to further consider the proposals. In due course, the convention submits its final recommendation to the European Council.
    • Or the European Council decide not to convene a convention and set the terms of reference for the inter-governmental conference themselves.
  3. The President of the European Council convenes an inter-governmental conference consisting of representatives of each member-state's government. The conference drafts and finalises a treaty based on the convention's recommendation or on the European Council's terms of reference.
  4. EU leaders sign the treaty.
  5. All member states must then ratify the treaty "in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements", if it is to come into force.


Simplified revision procedure

  1. Proposals to amend Part three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are submitted by a Member State, the European Parliament or the European Commission to the Council of Ministers who, in turn, submit them to the European Council and notify member states. Proposed amendments cannot increase the competences of the Union.
  2. The European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, votes to adopt a decision amending Part three on the basis of the proposals by unanimity.
  3. All member states must approve the decision "in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements", if it is to come into force.


The passerelle clause

The treaty also allows for the changing of voting procedures without amending the EU treaties. Under this clause the European Council can, after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, vote unanimously to:

  • allow the Council of Ministers to act on the basis of qualified majority in areas where they previously had to act on the basis of unanimity. (This is not available for decisions with defence or military implications.)


  • allow for legislation to be adopted on the basis of the ordinary legislative procedure where it previously was to be adopted on the basis of a special legislative procedure.


A decision of the European Council to use either of these provisions can only come into effect if, six months after all national parliaments had been given notice of the decision, none object to it.

Opt-outs

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union interpreted by the European Court of Justice is not to apply fully to the United Kingdom, Poland, and the Czech Republic although it would still bind the EU institutions and apply to the field of EU law:

Though the Civic Platform party in Poland had signalled during the 2007 parliamentary elections that it would not seek to opt-out from the Charter, Prime Minister Tusk has since stated that Poland will not sign up to the Charter. Tusk declared that the deals negotiated by the previous Polish government will be honoured, though suggested that Poland may eventually sign up to the Charter at a later date.

In order to ensure ratification of the treaty by the Czech Republicmarker, the European Council agreed that the opt-out from the Charter would also extend to the Czech Republic. The protocol will be amended to include the Czech Republic in the next treaty of accession. This was in response to demands of Václav Klaus, the Czech President, who feared that the Charter could enable claims by German post World War II expellees despite assurances to the contrary given to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where the degrees remain applicable.

Qualified majority voting in police and judicial affairs

The United Kingdom and Ireland have opted out from the change from unanimous decisions to qualified majority voting in the sector of police and judicial affairs; this decision will be reviewed in Ireland three years after the treaty enters into force. Both states will be able to opt in to these voting issues on a case-by-case basis.

Member States can have opt-outs from some of these policy areas.

The Treaty will provide countries with the option to opt out of certain EU policies in the area of police and criminal law. Provisions in the Treaty framework draft from the June 2007 summit stated that the division of power between Member States and the Union is a two-way process, implying that powers can be taken back from the union.

See also

References

External links

Official websites

Media overviews


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