Treaty of Lisbon

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The Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty, or more commonly the Lisbon Treaty) is an international agreement signed in Lisbon on December 13, 2007 designed to change the workings of the European Union (EU). The treaty has not yet been ratified by all EU member states, as required for it to take effect.[1] If ratified, the treaty will amend the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht; 1992) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome; 1957). In the process, the TEC is renamed to Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Prominent changes include more qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, increased involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process through extended codecision with the Council of Ministers, eliminating the pillar system and the creation of a President of the European Council with a term of two and half years and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs to present a united position on EU policies. If ratified, the Treaty of Lisbon would also make the Union's human rights charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding.

The stated aim of the treaty is "to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam [1997] 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."[2] Opponents of the Treaty of Lisbon, such as the British think-tank Open Europe and former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, argue that it will centralise the EU,[3] and weaken democracy by moving power away from national electorates.[4]

Negotiations to modify EU institutions began in 2001, resulting first in the European Constitution, which failed due to rejection by French and Dutch voters in 2005. The Constitution's replacement, the Lisbon Treaty, was originally intended to have been ratified by all member states by the end of 2008. This timetable failed, primarily due to the initial rejection of the Treaty in 2008 by the Irish electorate, a decision which was reversed in a second referendum in 2009.

As of October 26, 2009 (2009 -10-26)[update], , 26 of the total 27 member states have ratified the Treaty,[5] with the signature of the Czech President as well as deposition being remaining obstacles before the Treaty can enter into force.


  1. Irish await EU treaty vote result. BBC (3 October 2009). Retrieved on 3 October 2009.
  2. Quoted from the Treaty Preamble
  3. (2008) The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment. Stationary Office, 335 (S18 Q47). “In the event, however, the Constitution and its successor, the Reform Treaty, pursued the centralising course that had caused the democratic deficit in the first place. Additional competences are transferred to the EU...” 
  4. Jens-Peter Bonde. From EU Constitution to Lisbon Treaty. Foundation for EU Democracy and the EU Democrats, 41. “We can still have elections, but we cannot use our vote to change legislation in the many areas where the Union is given power to decide. It is a very, very long process to change an EU law under the Lisbon Treaty. The power to do this does not lie with the normal majority of voters. It also demands a great effort in a lot of countries to change a law.” 
  5. See the table below