The Lisbon Treaty is a treaty that modifies the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community.
The Lisbon treaty was signed in the city of Lisbon (Portugal) on December 13, 2007 and entered into force at the end of 2009.
Objective and Importance
The main objective of the treaty was to improve the functioning of the European Union by conferring new legislative powers on the European Parliament and strengthening the vote of citizens regarding the direction the Union will take.
Notable changes to the Lisbon Treaty
Below we describe some of the most notable changes introduced by the treaty:
Greater power to the European Parliament:
- The “European Community” disappears while it is the “European Union” (EU) that acquires legal personality and with it, the power to sign agreements at the community level.
- Parliament’s legislative powers were extended to more than 40 new areas, such as agriculture, energy security, immigration, justice and Union funds.
- Parliament stands on an equal footing with the Council, which represents the governments of the Member States. Parliament also gains powers to approve the entire EU budget together with the Council.
- It was determined that Parliament will elect the President of the Commission, the EU’s executive body. This decision should reflect the results of the European elections and, therefore, of the election of the voters.
- Parliament becomes the guardian of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, integrated into the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the right of citizens’ initiative, which allows citizens to request new political proposals if a million people have signed a certain petition.
Other relevant changes:
- The Court of Justice of the European Union is created. The Court of First Instance is renamed the General Court, and Specialized Courts may be created. In addition, the Council can create a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, to combat infringements that harm the financial interests of the Union.
- They are created from the figures of President of the European Council and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to provide greater coherence and continuity to EU policies.
- The chances of stagnation in the Council of the European Union are reduced by qualified majority voting. Transparency increases and the qualified majority system is modified (As of November 1, 2014, a qualified majority is defined as a minimum of 55% of the members of the Council that includes at least fifteen of them and represents Member States that gather at least 65% of the population of the Union).
- The “community pillars” disappear. The initials PESC (common foreign and security policy) and JAI (justice and home affairs), which followed a different legislative process, are integrated into the Fundamental Treaty of the European Union.