The Lisbon Treaty - the Readable version


Welcome to the EUABC

Here you can find short explanations of most EU words and easy links to more info

The EUABC is an Internet dictionary providing concise explanations of terms used in the EU debate, and a lot of useful links. Its aim is also to inform people on the debate on the Lisbon Treaty and the future of Europe.

It includes many terms that relate to matters of political tension, controversy and debate. Federalists may find arguments and explanations both in favour of and against further European integration, just as Eurosceptics, EU-critics and Eurorealists may find their own arguments and the Federalist counter-arguments to their positions.

The content of this site is constantly updated in English, where you have the most complete edition. The other editions are NOT fully updated with the latest Lisbon Treaty.

In the English edition you will find a lot of new entries concerning the Lisbon Treaty, signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007, and the rejected EU Constitution, which was agreed by Heads of State on 18 June 2004. We also recommend you the Reader-Friendly edition of the Lisbon treaty and the rejected EU Constitution.

Now including

  1. Detailed legal analysis by lawyer Klaus Heeger: I and II
  2. From EU Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty
  3. The Treaty of Lisbon: Implementing the Institutional Innovations
  4. The Lisbon Treaty - The consolidated reader-friendly edition of the treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon
  5. The proposed editition of the EU Constitution

If you should find any mistakes or omissions please email Jens-Peter Bonde

Best regards,
Jens-Peter Bonde, 16 December 2010.


- The 1 December 2010 the Lisbon Treaty had its its one year birthday. You can download the new Treaty in a readable version from this website and buy a printed version in the for € 15.

On Friday 2 October 2009 Ireland voted Yes in a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. On 3 November the Lisbon Treaty was accepted by the Czech Constitutional Court and signed by the Czech President.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty on 3 November 2009 after having obtained guarantees for Czech property laws from the Second World War and an opt-out from the Charter for Fundamental Rights.

- The new Treaty has introduced majority voting in 68 new areas. You can download the full list from the column beside.
- The new Treaty will introduce a President for the European Council and a foreign and defence office under the leadership of a new common EU "foreign minister" still named High Representative of the European Union. Lady Catherine Ashton has  also become a Vice-President in the European Commission. He will also become a Vice-President in the European Commission.
- You can find more in the euabc under the words Lisbon Treaty and under many other words. The full euabc will soon be updated in the English version. We need voluntary translators to update it in other languages.

You can download the full Lisbon Treaty in a new readable version with a 3000-word alphabetical index for free here.

Small member states will
halve their votes under Lisbon

The heart of the Lisbon Treaty is a change in the way member states vote in the Council of Ministers. Small member states like Ireland will halve its vote. Germany will double its share of the vote.

There must still be a majority of states behind each law. The Lisbon Treaty introduces voting according to the exact number of citizens in each state. This change will be implemented from 2014.

See the more precise rules under Voting in the Council and in Art. 238 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty.

  Nice Treaty Lisbon Treaty
% of votes in the Council Number of votes % of EU population Population in millions
Germany 8.4 29 16.41 82.00
France 8.4 29 12.88 64.35
United Kingdom 8.4 29 12.33 61.63
Italy 8.4 29 12.02 60.05
Spain 7.8 27 9.17 45.83
Poland 7.8 27 7.63 38.14
Romania 4.1 14 4.30 21.50
Netherlands 3.8 13 3.30 16.49
Greece 3.5 12 2.25 11.26
Czech Republic 3.5 12 2.09 10.47
Belgium 3.5 12 2.15 10.75
Hungary 3.5 12 2.01 10.03
Portugal 3.5 12 2.13 10.63
Sweden 2.9 10 1.85 9.26
Austria 2.9 10 1.67 8.36
Bulgaria 2.9 10 1.52 7.61
Denmark 2.0 7 1.10 5.51
Slovakia 2.0 7 1.08 5.41
Finland 2.0 7 1.07 5.33
Ireland 2.0 7 0.89 4.47
Lithuania 2.0 7 0.67 3.35
Latvia 1.2 4 0.45 2.26
Slovenia 1.2 4 0.41 2.03
Estonia 1.2 4 0.27 1.34
Cyprus 1.2 4 0.16 0.79
Luxembourg 1.2 4 0.10 0.49
Malta 0.9 3 0.08 0.41
EU-27 Total 100.0 345 100.00 499.75
Blocking Minority 26.38% 91 35% 174,913
Qualified majority 73.91% 255 65% 324,838

New Commission requires 18 of the 27 member states and an absolute majority in the European Parliament to agree

The European Commission will still have one national from each member state although the Lisbon Treaty provides for a smaller Commission. The political decision to keep one commissioner for each member state was taken after the first Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Under the Nice Treaty member state governments "propose" their national Commissioner. Under Lisbon each government may offer their "suggestions" only.

The Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, decides the different portfolios and can also require Commissioners to resign during their term of office.

The full team of Commissioners must be approved by 18 of the 27 Prime Ministers or Presidents, also representing 255 out of 345 weighted votes in the Council ("qualified majority"), AND by an absolute majority in the European Parliament.

From 2014 the full team must be approved by 20 of the 27 Prime Ministers or Presidents at a European summit, also representing 65% of all 500 million or so EU citizens, AND by an absolute majority in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament has no right to veto individual Commissioners, but it may threaten to block the entire Commission if the Commission President Barroso does not listen to their views, including their possible criticisms of individual Commissioners, following public hearings of all candidates in the European Parliament.

For more detail see the underlined words in the euABC and under: Commission.

Can migrant workers be paid less?

According to the treaties the EU has no say on salaries. But the EU Court in Luxembourg has decided that migrant workers may work for much less than the normal pay standards in the EU country that they move to.

Read about the rulings in the euabc under Laval, Rüffert, Viking and Luxembourg.

Different books on the Lisbon Treaty

Here you can download different books on the Lisbon Treaty for free.

108,000 pieces of law voters can't change
The size of strawberries for sale in shops is decided by the EU
The size of strawberries for sale in shops is decided by the European Commission in a regulation "binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States".

The national parliaments
or the European Parliament has no say. It is one of 108,000 rules which cannot be changed by the voters. See under "Strawberries" and "Number of laws"

The EU is composed of 27 member states all with parliamentary democracies. Voters may participate in elections, leading to a new majority and then new laws.

We have managed to establish the existence of more than 108,000 pieces of law in the EU where this fundamental principle of democracy does not apply.
Regulations 10569
Directives 1838
Decisions 17184
Other acts 3088
Agreements with non-Member States or international organisations 1647
Agreements between Member States 100
Acts of bodies created by international agreements 3474
Recommendations 341
Communications 4661
White papers 32
Green papers
CEN (European Committee for Standardization) 14498
CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) 6004
ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) 26847
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS (WHO&FAO food standards system) 4783


Firstly, we have 32,679 pieces of valid law decided in the European institutions. They can only be amended after a decision by the non-elected members of the Commission. The Council of Ministers must approve important changes by a qualified majority.

The European Parliament can change nothing itself, even if all members of the parliament were to unanimously agree.

Then we have 5,221 international agreements binding citizens and companies in the same way as law. There are also 13,532 verdicts from the EU Court in Luxembourg which can only be amended by new verdicts from the judges or by a new treaty.

Finally we have 52,132 harmonised standards which can normally be amended by the Commission or/and a qualified majority among member states. Again, even a unanimous parliament cannot change them at all after new elections.

European voters are set aside in relation to maybe more than 108,000 rules of laws and harmonisations. We cannot change the content by putting our vote in the ballot box.

Why not insist on the principle of democracy which would say: All laws must be approved by a majority in a national or European Parliament. This does not mean that all 108,727 pieces of hard and soft law must actually be approved by members of parliaments. Those elected by the voters may delegate the more technical decisions to specialised organs.

We would still have democracy if those powers that had been delegated to the common level were able to be brought back by a simple majority in Parliament if necessary. The fact that this is no longer possible means that there is no democracy for the change of these 108,000 hard and soft laws.

Look under "Number of laws" to find the full table of hard and soft laws in the EU. Look under "Democracy" to learn about the decision making process in the EU.

Vote - and win a trip to Brussels OR Strasbourg

The traveling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg is boring for Members of the European Parliament and costly for tax payers. Do you prefer one seat to be in Strasbourg or Brussels? Or will you keep more seats?

Enter our contest now, and you have the chance to win a trip to Brussels or Strasbourg. It's easy, but more than this, it's important. You can now express your opinion on the two-seat situation of the European Parliament, and win something at the same time!

What do you have to do?
Simple, choose one of the three options: keep the EU Parliament in Brussels, keep only the seat in Strasbourg or maintain the current two-seat situation. Enter your email address and click on VOTE!

How can you win?
On the 1st of October 2011 we will randomly select one voter from the list of emails who will receive a trip to Brussels or Strasbourg.

Won a travel
The first travel to Brussels or Strasbourg went to: 

Jens-Peter Bonde
Member of the European Parliament
from 1979 - 08, editor