The operations of the European Union are hinged on its supranational institutions and progressive agreements among its 28 member countries. Since its inception in the mid 1950s, this organisation has witnessed significant growths and the consequent adoption of various treaties all aimed at rearranging the constitutional and legislative frameworks among its major institutions. The latest of such treaties was the Treaty of Lisbon adopted in 2007 and one which accorded the European parliament to a higher legislative and constitutional level1. As has been the case with most EU Treaties, at the centre stage of the Treaty of Lisbon was the distribution of constitutional and legislative powers among key institutions of the EU (the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers/ Council, the European Commission)2.There are however major debates concerning the extent to which this treaty created tangible changes to the legislative and constitutional powers of these institutions. This paper seeks to give a critical discussion on the constitutional and legislative power balance between various institutions of the European Union in the Post Lisbon period through a comparative analysis of such a power balance during the pre-Lisbon and post-Lisbon periods. Despite the seemingly major powers given to the parliament, the Council still remains partly more powerful than the parliament and the European Commission.
An Overview of the Pre-Lisbon Functionality of EU Institutions The pre-Lisbon European Union’s institutional Framework was born out of a political process pitting member states hence the seemingly complex decision making and governance system characterising this framework3. At the centre stage of these revisions are two contradicting views; the federal state perspective and the “sovereignst” perspective-which strives to create an intergovernmental governance and decision making framework4. These conflicting ideologies have at times created wide power imbalances between the above three institutions5. Under the Treaty of the European Community, the European Commission; the independent body representing the interests of Europe, was given the power and authority to make policy and legislative proposals. This institution was however not constitutionally mandated to make a final decision on the adoption of those legal and policy proposals. The role of deliberating on the adoption of those policy proposals was rather given to the Council as the independent intergovernmental body representing EU member countries. The Council would oversee the adoption of those legislative and policy proposals through simple majority voting and in collaboration with the European Parliament (the distinct body representing members of the European population)6. The Council largely remained one of the most powerful organs of the EU in the pre-Lisbon period. Initially; the Council would solely adopt legislative proposals ranging from such items as directives, regulations, and even final decisions. This made it a supreme institution, enjoying both legislative and executive powers. It would at times serve as the sole legislator with the European Parliament serving as a mere deliberative organ through which certain policy and legislative proposals could be discussed before being adopted by the Council7. Subsequent Treaties did however strengthen Parliament’s position as a legislative organ thus partly watering down the single legislative powers of the Council. This is perhaps demonstrated by the adoption of a co-decision procedure in 1992 which place the parliament at par with the Council in certain matters of legislative importance. The Pre-Lisbon European legal order therefore placed immense powers on the Council, followed by the parliament, and lastly by the Commission8.
The Post-Lisbon EU Institutional Framework and Changes brought by the Treaty of Lisbon According to the new Article four of the Treaty of the European Union, the...
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