Lisbon treaty takes Europe into 21st century
New legal framework equips EU to address future challenges and gives people a greater say.
At the long-awaited signing of the new EU treaty , leaders from each of the 27 member countries put pen to treaty paper in a clear show of their willingness to take Europe into the 21st century. Fittingly, the ceremony (13 December) took place in the ornate Jeronimo monastery in Lisbon.
To realise its full potential, the EU needs to modernise and reform. The new legal framework has been designed to do just that. But what does it mean in practice? Who will it benefit? And how?
The benefits will certainly include:
more democracy and openness – if a million Europeans from several countries group together, they can call on the commission to make new policy proposals (‘citizens’ initiative’). And EU intervention will be monitored to ensure it only occurs where it will attain better results than national action alone.
more efficiency– decision making will be based on a double majority system from 2014 (meaning that a vote can only be carried by 55% of member countries, who must represent at least 65% of the EU’s population). The EU will be able to act more swiftly in matters of law and order, rooting out cross-border criminal activities.
more rights – the recently signed charter of fundamental rights, which now has the same legal status as the EU treaties themselves, will safeguard our basic human rights.
more international clout– the EU will have a single legal personality, strengthening its negotiating power and making it more effective on the world stage. And a new post for foreign affairs and security policy will increase the impact and coherence of EU action abroad.
Europe’s leaders have reached agreement. Now the national authorities must decide how the treaty will be ratified – whether it will be voted on by the people or by their representatives. Either way, the hope is that the new treaty will be in force by the next European elections in June 2009.
Way to the treaty of Lisbon