10 things about the Lisbon treaty you should know 11.01.2010, written by Agnieszka Pomaska
„Lisbon treaty” – you may have heard quite a bit about it recently. Still baffled? Well, here we present some of the main changes that it will bring to the European Union should it be adopted. At the time of writing the treaty has been ratified by 26 of the 27 EU members. Despite the Czech Parliament passing the treaty, President Václav Klaus is still refusing to sign it pending certain guarantees.
Citizens' initiative: If 1 million Europeans present a petition to the European Commission then it would have to look at ways of introducing the proposals. Alternatively it could force the Union’s executive to look at ways of repealing legislation.
Lawmaking: The European Parliament would become an equal in terms of lawmaking with the Council of Ministers, where member state national governments are represented.
Policy: Members of the European Parliament would be on an equal legislative footing with the Council regarding EU agriculture and fisheries policy, trade policy, legal immigration and EU structural funds, to name just a few.
National Parliaments gain an increased role in EU decision making with the treaty giving them eight weeks in which to argue their case if they feel a draft law oversteps European Union authority.
An EU President: European leaders will have to elect a new EU President to chair their 4 summits a year and set out the agenda ahead. This would replace the six monthly rotations and the holder is likely to be the public face of the Union.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: The second new job created under Lisbon. The powerful EU „foreign minister” will chair meetings of Foreign Affairs Ministers, oversee the multi-billion EU aid budget and run the proposed European External Action Service – a European diplomatic corps.
Double majority in Council votes: The treaty changes the voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers. New arrangements mean that instead of voting by unanimity measures can now be carried if they have 55% of the votes in the Council from counties representing 65% of the EU’s population.
Commission President elected by MEPs: Any new President of the European Commission would be elected by the European Parliament.
Charter of Fundamental Rights: The Charter becomes legally binding meaning all laws must adhere to it. The UK and Poland have certain opt outs on this point.
Withdrawal: For the first time countries have the right to withdraw from the European Union.