Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty is the name of the new Treaty covering the European cooperation from 1 December 2009.
* A new voting system moving powers from small to bigger member states will enter into force from 2014.
* The Barroso II Commission was appointed in February 2010 according to the new rules which give much more power to the Commission President.

From now on member states can only put forward the names of their Commissioners as suggestions. Under the previous Nice Treaty member states could make proposals. A suggestion means that national governments can no longer insist on their individual nominees being accepted.

The power to decide is now effectively with the new Commission President, whose appointment must in turn have the support of 18 of the 27 prime ministers and presidents, representing at least 255 out of 345 weighted votes in the Council.
In addition he must obtain the support of an absolute majority of the European Parliament for the full college of commissioners.

A special summit in November 2009 nominated a permanent President of the European Council and a new foreign minister who is also be a Vice-President of the European Commission.

From 1 December 2009 many new laws can be decided by qualified majority in the Council of Ministers. A list of the 68 new areas which will be decided by qualified majority vote can be downloaded from the front page of this euabc.

A new foreign and defence office employing 7000 diplomats is now being recruited and installed in the Charlemagne building in Brussels and in the 130 EU delegations to other countries. There may now be more official EU embassies.

The new post-Lisbon EU has legal personality, allowing the EU to negotiate and enter into international agreements with other states and international organisations in all areas of its powers.
500 million citizens has been endowed with an additional citizenship as EU citizens on top of their national citizenship. 

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is now legally binding and offer the citizens competing rights and duties to their national constitutions and the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Lisbon Treaty was rejected in a referendum in Ireland on 12 June 2008 by a 53.4% No and 46.6% Yes votes. The turnout was 53%. 

On 2 October 2009 the Treaty was approved in a re-run of the referendum after Ireland had obtained certain "guarantees" from the Europan Council of prime ministers and presidents. On this second occasion 67% of the voters said Yes and 33% No, on a turnout of 58% of the electorate.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus was then put under pressure to sign the Treaty to avoid a referendum in the UK, which might have happened if a new Conservative administration had been elected there before the Treaty was fully ratified.

On the morning of 3 November 2009 the Czech Constitutional Court rejected a legal challenge to the Treaty from 17 Czech Senators. At 3 p.m. that day Klaus signed the Treaty. 
At the European summit on 29-30 November Klaus had obtained a promise of a Czech opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a political guarantee that the so-called Benes Decrees from after the Second World War would not be affected by possible rulings of the EU Court of Justice under the Charter. 

Many Czechs feared that the Lisbon Treaty could be used by some Germans to lay claim  to property which they or their  relations had lost  when they were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War 2.

The British Conservatives wanted a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the UK. This had been promised to British voters before the last UK general election by Prime Minister Tony Blair. The next British general election must be held by June 2010.
After the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by the 27 member states, there is no scope for further referendums on it.  Any renegotiation of the Lisbon Treaty requires unanimity amongst all 27 member states.

Despite the Irish No in June 2008 the ratification process continued among the member states which had not yet ratified the treaty at the time, encouraged by the Irish Government.
This ongoing ratification process was formally confirmed at an  EU summit on 20 June 2008. Ireland was asked to consult its own citizens internally and along with the other member states to propose a solution to the Irish No. This was envisaged as taking the form of various political declarations and guarantees, which could be given without requiring any change in the Lisbon Treaty itself. 
Any such change would have required further ratification of the change by all 27 member states and the prime ministers and presidents wanted to avoid that at all costs, for it would have got snarled up with the UK general election.  

The Czech Government wrote a footnote to the Council conclusions on their reservations and the possibility that their constitutional court might hinder Czech ratification. All other member states agreed that the ratifications should continue despite the Irish No.

In December 2008 the European Council met in Brussels and decided that the Lisbon Treaty would enter into force on 1 January 2010 after the European elections of June 2009.
The Irish Government offered to have a re-run of Ireland's  referendum in the autumn of 2009.

In June 2009 the European summit in Brussels agreed the so-called Irish guarantees. The Irish Government held the re-run on 2 October 2009.

Further back, on 13 December 2007, the prime ministers and presidents of the 27 member states had signed the Lisbon Treaty as the new basic treaty on European cooperation. This had been first approved at a summit in Lisbon on 19 October 2007.
After the signing process the text was put for ratification in all member states with the aim of having the Treaty enter into force on 1 January 2009. The Irish No delayed this for a year

The Lisbon Treaty contains the same legal obligations as the proposed EU-Constitution, which wasfirst approved  by referendums in Spain and Luxembourg 20 February and 10 July 2005 and rejected by referendums in France and the Netherlands on 29 May and 1 June 2005 respectively.
In Spain 76,7% voted yes, in Luxembourg 56,5%. In France 54,8% voted no, in The Netherlands 61,7%.

The first official name for the Lisbon Treaty was the "Reform Treaty". This was formally changed by its signature in Lisbon, after which it was called  by the name of that city. 
The EU Constitution had been first adopted by the Heads of State or Government on 18 June 2004. It was then solemnly signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 as the "Treaty Establishing a Constiutution for Europe". 

However, following its rejection in the France and Dutch referendums  a "period of reflection" was announced, together with the Commission's "Plan D - for Democracy, dialogue and debate." During this time some other states ratified the rejected constitution.

The then new German chancellor Angela Merkel succeeded - through secret diplomacy - in reaching agreement on restarting the "constitutional process". This was hailed in the Berlin Declaration (25 March 2007) on the 50th anniversary of the orginal Treaty of Rome. 
At the 21-23 June 2007 Summit Merkel concluded the German EU presidency with the adoption of a detailed negotiation mandate for a new Intergovernmental Conference. This laid down the detailed provisons of a new Treaty that would legally be virtually identical with the rejected EU Constitution. 

The Intergovernmental Conference started one month later, on 23 July 2007. The Portuguese presidency aimed at finalising the negotiations for a special summit in Lisbon, on 18 -19 October 2007, allowing for the revised and renamed constitution to be signed before 2008 so as to enter into force before the European elections in June 2009. The Irish No in June 2008 delayed this timetable. 

The Lisbon Treaty includes all operational articles from the rejected EU Constitution, but it alters their presentation radically. Instead of one comprehensive document that would replace all the existing European Treaties, the Lisbon Treaty amends the existing 17 basic EU treaties and many accompanying  protocols and declarations.
It thereby gives the EU a constitution indirectly rather than directly. The EU's constitutional law will thus continue to consist of a plethora of treaties amending the founding treaties.

By amending the existing Treaties the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU a Constitution of more than 3000 pages compared to the 560 pages in the formally titled "Constitution for Europe" of 2004, which the French and Dutch rejected in 2005. 

Although it changes the name from "EU Constitution" to "Lisbon Treaty" - strictly speaking the Consolidated European Treaties as Amended by Lisbon -  it does not alter the jurispridence of the European Court, which has already characterised the treaties as "the Constitutional Charter of a Community of Law, a new legal order for the sake of which the States have limited their sovereign rights" (Opinion 1/91).

The Lisbon Treaty deletes the constitution's article on the European symbols, such as the flag, Europe Day, the motto and the common EU anthem, which had been in the original "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe". 
However, it was also stated that this deletion does not change the status of  any of the European symbols, which have been in existence for years anyway without any formal basis in the European Treaties.

The Lisbon Treaty moves Article I-6 of the Constitution referring to the primacy of Community law to Declaration No 17 attached to Lisbon. This Declaration recalls the existing case law of the European Court, which states, for example,  that EU law cannot "be overridden by domestic legal provisions, however framed" (Case 06/64 "Costa/ENEL").

The Lisbon Treaty contains the same number of new policy areas that are made subject to voting by qualified majority. They number 68 in all.  

The revised constitution now embodied in the Lisbon Treaty  abolishes the existing "three-pillar" structure of the European Treaties - the area  of the European Community, in which supranational Community law prevails, and the two areas of foreign and security policy on the one hand and crime, justice and home affairs policy on the other, where member states cooperated on the basis of retained sovereignty.

The Lisbon Treaty abolishes the European Community and transfers all of its powers and institutions to the constitutionally  new post-Lisbon European Union. To enable this to be done it gives legal personality to the European Union in Article 47 TEU.
This makes it possible for the Union to legislate internally as the European Community had previously done and for the entire Union to act on the international scene as a constitutionally integrated entity. 

It also establishes a common permanent President of the European Council and an EU Foreign Minister who will now be titled "The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy".

This High Representative - formerly a post held by Javier Solana, now by Lady Ashton - is also a Vice-President of the European Commission.
The term European Community disappeared from all treaty texts and is replaced by the term "Union". The Community itself legally disappeared.

The Treaty confers on the citizens of the 27 member states an "additional" citizenship of the Union on top of their national citizenship. This is similar to the internal dual citizenships possessed by citizens of  such classical federations  as the USA and Federal Germany.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is made legally binding, allowing the EU Court to further develop the legal principles and fundamental rights of the Union and its citizens. See Art. 6 TEU.

Following the links below you will find two comments on the Lisbon Treaty from two constitutional experts, Anthony Coughlan from Ireland and Andrew Duff from the UK. One supported the Treaty, the other did not.
You can also download the Consolidated Treaties as Amended by the Lisbon Treaty in a readable version, as well as some books giving relevant commentary.

See Constitution and Ratification
German Constitutional Court case and Irish declaration
Read a Reader-Friendly Version of the Lisbon Treaty

Different books for free at
The Convention - on the FutureS of Europe (115 pages)