The Lisbon Treaty Essay Sample

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Celebrating 50 years from the signing of the Rome treaties, the Heads of State and the Prime Ministers of the Member States have adopted a statement in Berlin concerning the acceleration of the institutional reforms. After consulting sessions, which involved the States and the European Union Institutions, in December the same year (2007), the Lisbon Treaty was signed.

This treaty, also called the reforming treaty, modifies and brings amendments to the institutive treaties without uniting them in a single act. The treaty is in force since the 1st of December 2009.

The aim of the treaty, as stated in the preamble was “to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam [1997] and by the Treaty of Nice [2001] with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action.”

The most important change brought by this treaty to the EU is the juridic personality, which wasn’t mentioned in any previous treaties. However, this juridic personality is not clearly defined, leaving room to interpretation concerning the federal, confederal or international organization character of the Union.

Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty brings among the European Institution: the European Council and the European Central Bank. These institutions join the previous ones: The European Parliament, The European Union Council, The European Commission, The Court of Justice of The European Union and The Court of Accounts.

The European Parliament becomes more involved in the legislation process, gains more political control and increased bugetary functions. The legislative power of the European Parliament is increased by the ruling to extend the codecision procedure to new areas. This procedure means that the parliament has equal say in legislative matters, along with the European Union Council. The Parliament now chooses the president of the European Commission. Concerning the structure of the institution, the number of parliament members is now restricted to 750, not including the president, this number being proportionally divided among the member countries based on the population number. One state can have from 6 to 96 representatives in the European Parliament, this measure affect Germany who used to have 99 representatives and also the smallest european countries: Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Estonia who used to have only 5 members in the European Parliament.

The European Council gains the status of ‘European Institution’ and elects a president with qualified majority. The president has a two and a half years term, with the possibility of renewal, granting the continuity of his policies. The treaty also provides the European Council with a greater say over police and justice planning, foreign policy and constitutional matters.

In the matter of the European Union Council, the domains in which decisions can be made using the qualified majority vote have been extended to cover almost all of the previous unanimous vote areas. This provides a much easier way of making decisions in areas such as: asylum, migration, transportation, sports, turism and other key domains. To vote using a qualified majority the favorable vote of 55% of the members is needed, meaning at least 15 members representing member states that cover over 65% of the European Union population. This new definition of ‘qualified majority’ will take effect in 2014.

When it comes to the veto right, this can be exercised by at least 4 member countries which represent a minimum of 35% of the European Union population. Furthermore, the treaty states that the meetings of the European Union Council will be held in public, being televised. Another important change to the structure of the European Union concerns the European Commission. Starting from 2014, the Commission will not have 27 members (one from each member state), the number will be reduced to 2/3 of the number of states, using the rotation system to provide each country with a member at a certain point. This decision has been made in light of the incresing number of member states, becase currently each state receives a portfolio and the number of portfolios are limited.

In addition, the Central European Bank is proclaimed as a European Union institution and gains juridic personality. Also, it is named the only abilitated institution that can issue EURO bills, the EURO becoming the official currency of the Union.

The structure of the european judiciary system was also changed by the Lisbon Treaty, the Court of First Instance being renamed the General Court and, along with the Civil Service Tribunal and the European Court of Justice, they were established as sub-courts of a new EU institution named the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Treaty of Lisbon is indeed a reform treaty, shifting power among the European Union institutions, this process bringing many advantages to the Union, but also causing rivalries among the institutions. The institutions that gained power with the signing of the Lisbon Treaty are the Parliament and the European Council, to the detriment of the European Commission and the European Union Council.

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