Friday

19th Apr 2019

EU agrees new 'Lisbon Treaty'

  • The signing of the EU constitution - now to be replaced by the Lisbon Treaty (Photo: Portuguese EU presidency 2007)

The European Union has overnight agreed the precise text of its new 'Lisbon Treaty' to be formally signed off on 13 December in the Portuguese capital.

At around 02:00 local time on Friday morning - following shorter-than-usual discussions - Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates announced that a deal has been struck, describing it as "victory for Europe".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"With this agreement we have managed to get out of stalemate...we will be ready to tackle the world's challenges", Mr Socrates said.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also branded the accord as "historic", providing the EU with the "capacity to act".

The decision effectively ends a six-year long period of trying to internally reform.

The first bullet in this battle was fired in February 2002, when the European Convention headed by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing started drafting the EU Constitution.

This project, however, was buried when French and Dutch voters rejected the document in 2005 - something that resulted in a two-year long phase of soul searching.

The deal

The final hours in the run up to Friday morning's agreement saw battles on two main fronts - with Poland and Italy seeking to strengthen their political weight within the 27-nation union.

In response to Warsaw's demands, a decision blocking mechanism - known as the Ioannina clause - will be written into a declaration of the treaty. However, the declaration will be linked to a legally stronger protocol, saying that the clause can be modified only by unanimous consensus of all EU leaders.

"We got everything we wanted", Polish president Lech Kaczynski said on Friday morning, adding this compromise means that the clause cannot be removed without his country's approval.

Another headline-stealing issue of the summit was how to distribute seats in the European Parliament among EU member states after the next EU elections in 2009. Italy was demanding to have the same number of deputies as France and the UK.

Under the newly-agreed treaty, Rome will get one extra MEP, while the president of the parliament would no longer be counted as a lawmaker in order to preserve the 750 overall ceiling of MEPs.

Originally, Italy was supposed to end up with 72 deputies, compared to 73 for the UK and 74 for France.

Finally, leaders also overcame Sofia's objections towards the spelling of the word 'euro' and agreed to use the spelling 'evro' in the Bulgarian version of legal documents and the treaty.

The date

The new treaty will be formally signed by all European leaders in Lisbon on 13 December and subsequently go for ratification next year, with a view to coming into place by mid-2009, ahead of the next European elections.

Among other things, the new treaty introduces an EU president, a post that can be held for up to five years, strengthens the post of its foreign policy chief and takes away national vetoes in areas such as terrorism. It also gives more power to the European Parliament.

CORRECTION - an earlier version of this article stated suggested that the Bulgarian spelling of the euro was to be further discussed. In fact, EU leaders agreed that 'evro' could be used in Bulgarian translations of official EU documents.

Lobby register transparency talks collapse

Efforts to set up a better transparency register for lobbyists have collapsed after two years of talks. The impasse revolves around the European Commission's insistence that the register also become mandatory for the European Parliament and Council.

Exclusive

EU bodies dodge questions on secret VW loan report

The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have refused to answer detailed questions about the demand from the European Ombudsman to publish an Olaf report on a €400m EIB loan Volkswagen Group (VW) received through deception.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us