Wednesday

11th Dec 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 20 years of archives. 30-day 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.

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

The European Parliament's internal body, designed to sanction MEPs for conflicts of interests, has failed to deliver any meaningful verdicts. Some are hoping a future proposal for a new independent ethics body will help hold MEPs accountable.

Exclusive

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' over EU-Vietnam trade deal

Right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil is leading European Parliament negotiations on a trade deal with Vietnam. As rapporteur, he is supposed to be neutral but has neglected to declare his involvement in a group with ties to the Communist party.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  2. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  3. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  4. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  5. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  6. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  7. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  8. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row
  2. Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock
  3. EU alarmed by prospects of battle for Tripoli
  4. EU must manage climate and industry together
  5. Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?
  6. Green Deal targets pit Left against Right in parliament
  7. Human rights abusers to face future EU blacklists
  8. Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us