What is the Lisbon Treaty?
The Lisbon Treaty, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, updated European Union regulations, establishing more centralized foreign policy and leadership, an appropriate process for countries wishing to leave the Union and a simplified process for promulgating new policies. The treaty was signed on December 13, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal, and amends the two previous treaties that laid the foundation for the European Union.
Before the Lisbon Treaty
The Lisbon Treaty was signed by the 27 member states of the European Union and officially entered into force in December 2009, two years after its signature. It amends two existing treaties, the Treaty of Rome and the Treaty of Maastricht.
- Treaty of Rome: signed in 1957, this treaty introduced the European Economic Community (EEC), reduced customs regulations between member countries and facilitated a single market for goods and all transport policies. Also known as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
- Maastricht Treaty: signed in 1992, this treaty established the three pillars of the European Union and paved the way for the euro, the common currency. Also known as the Treaty on European Union (TEU).
While these previous treaties established the basic rules and principles of the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty went further by establishing new Union-wide roles and formal legal procedures.
What the Lisbon Treaty has changed
The Lisbon Treaty was built on existing treaties but adopted new rules to strengthen cohesion and rationalize action within the European Union. Important articles of the Lisbon Treaty include:
- Article 18: Protocol established for the election of a high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Elected at the office or outside him by majority vote, this representative supervises the Union’s foreign and security affairs.
- Article 21: Detailed comprehensive diplomatic policy for the European Union, based on the principles of universal human rights, democracy and development. The Union is committed to forging alliances with countries that support these beliefs and to contacting third world countries to help them develop.
Article 50: Procedures established for a member country to leave the European Union.
The Lisbon Treaty also replaced the previously rejected constitutional treaty, which attempted to establish a Union constitution. Member countries could not agree on the voting procedures set out in the constitution, as some countries, such as Spain and Poland, would lose their voting rights. The Lisbon Treaty resolved this problem by proposing weighted votes and by widening the scope of qualified majority voting.
Lisbon Treaty Opinion
Those who support the Lisbon Treaty say that it strengthens accountability by providing a better system of checks and balances and that it gives more power to the European Parliament, which has a major influence in the legislative power of the Union.
Many critics of the Lisbon Treaty argue that it draws influence towards the center, forming an uneven distribution of power that ignores the needs of small countries.