The Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) was signed by twenty-seven member states (MS) on 13th December 2007 and entered into force on 1st December 2009 ending several years of negotiation about institutional issues. Below we will look at how the ToL has reformed the European Union (EU). The changes introduced by the ToL lie predominantly in the areas of constitutional and institutional reform. However, institutional change is the key driver behind the ToL. We will look at how the ToL has brought about these changes.
Initially the ToL was named the "Reform Treaty" however as Portugal held presidency at the time they were keen to attach their name to it hence the reason it was called the Treaty of Lisbon. The aim of the ToL was to:
“to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action”
Prior to the ToL coming into force reform was needed due to the expansion of the EU. The rules were designed for a much smaller EU and therefore “a need was seen to modernise and reform the EU”. The MS realised that the existing treaties did not provide the EU with the appropriate equipment to tackle the challenges it faced in the 21st century, in areas such as economic crisis, climate change, sustainable development, energy security and fighting international cross-border crime. The EU needed change to help them deal with the challenges it faced in the modern world.
In 2004 prior to the ToL coming into force twenty-five countries signed the Treaty establishing a European Constitution (the Constitution). The Constitution was designed to modernise the democratic decision making process and also to manage an EU which had grown from the original six MS to twenty-five MS. The Constitution raised the possibility of re-organising the treaties so as to introduce a constitutional text for the EU. The Constitution was billed by some as the “blueprint” for the future of Europe. However, the Constitution did not come into force due to its rejection in the French and Dutch referendums. Some were critical of the Constitution as they saw this as increased intergovernmentalism and felt they were heading towards a super state and that this was taking it too far as it would affect the supremacy of the national courts. Others felt the EU needed some constituent document as it moved forward in the new millennium. On further looking at the wording of the Constitution it was not a constitution. The Constitution was based on principles developed over the year by the European Court of Justice. The Constitution was in fact developing principles that were already developed.
The Constitution never came into force and the heads of government therefore took time out to reflect on this and agreed on a “period of reflection” on the future of Europe. In 2007 Germany took over the rotating presidency and declared the “period of reflection” over. In March 2007 celebrating the EU's fiftieth anniversary at an informal summit in Berlin, EU leaders vowed to have a new treaty in place by 2009. On 1st December 2009 the ToL came into force.
The ToL completely changed the presentation. Instead of one comprehensive document that replaced all the existing European Treaties, the ToL amends the existing seventeen 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. The ToL introduces significant changes to amend the EU and EC Treaties yet without replacing them. Article 1 of the Treaty of Lisbon contains the amendments to the Treaty on the European Union (TEU). Article 2 of the Treaty of Lisbon amends the EC Treaty which has now been renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The EU...
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