- Treaty of Maastricht (Photo: European Commission)
A passerelle is a kind of bridge. The word is often used to describe possibilities for moving from one way of cooperation to another without difficult ratifications.
The Lisbon Treaty provides for the introduction of two general passerelles in Article 48 TEU. The first passerelle makes it possible changing the procedure for adopting laws and framework laws from a special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure for policy areas.
The second passerelle makes it possible to move from unanimity voting qualified majority in the Council for all policy areas except defence. Using these articles will require unanimity amongst the governments and national ratification according to Article 48.2 TEU. Prime Ministers avoid national ratification by using Article 48.7 - the simplified revision procedure.
The passerelle word has also been used to describe
- either moving a policy area from the intergovernmental third pillar to the supra-national first pillar in the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice Treaties, or
- Changing a special legislative procedure into the ordinary legislative procedure, or
- Change the voting rules in the council from unanimity to qualified majority or
- The extension of the article's scope of application.
Using these articles require unanimity among all the governments, but not difficult treaty amendment and ratification procedures that would require the approval of national Parliaments and/or by a national referendum.
Until now all passerelles have had a specific purpose. The Lisbon Treaty introduced general "passerelles".