Ireland is the only country in the EU to hold a referendum on the treaty, as required by our constitution. Every other member state can ratify the treaty by a vote in their national parliament. As such, we hold responsibility for supporting or rejecting the treaty on behalf of about 490 million Europeans who do not have the option to vote.
Here are some of the main changes that will come about if the Lisbon Treaty is approved by the people of Ireland.
1. Top jobs
A politician will be chosen to be president of the European Council for two and a half years, replacing the current system where presidency is rotated between member states every six months. Another post to be created will be the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, combining the current roles of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
2. Charter of Fundamental Rights
The Lisbon Treaty makes the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights a legally-binding document. The charter lists the human rights recognized by the European Union.
3. Citizens’ initiative
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the commission is obliged to consider any proposal signed by at least one million citizens from a number of member states.
4. National parliaments to get ‘yellow card’ facility
All proposals for EU legislation will have to be sent to national parliaments, who will then have eight weeks to offer a ‘reasoned opinion’ on whether they believe the proposal respects the principle of subsidiarity (this is the principle by which decisions should as far as possible be made at local or national level). If enough national parliaments object to a proposal, the commission can decide to maintain, amend or withdraw it.
5. Smaller commission
The European Commission is the EU’s executive arm; it puts forward legislation and ensures that EU policies
are correctly implemented. Since 2004, it has been...