Category Archives: The Lisbon Treaty: a Comprehensive Guide

On 13 December 2007, the Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States signed the Lisbon Treaty, thus bringing to an end several years of negotiations regarding institutional matters. This Treaty makes it possible to adapt the European institutions and their working methods, strengthen democratic legitimacy and consolidate the Union’s core values. It thus provides the Union with the legal framework and means necessary to meet citizens’ expectations.

European Union legal acts

European Union legal acts

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European Union legal acts

The Treaty of Lisbon makes several changes to the types of European Union legal acts. For the sake of clarification and simplification, it firstly reduces the number of legal instruments available to the European institutions.

In addition, it enables the Commission to adopt a new category of act: delegated acts. It also strengthens the competence of the Commission to adopt implementing acts. These two changes aim at improving the efficiency of European decision-making and the implementation of these decisions.

EU legal acts are legislative or non-legislative acts adopted by the European institutions. Depending on their nature, these acts may have a legally binding effect.

REDUCING THE NUMBER OF LEGAL ACTS

Before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, there were fourteen types of legal act which could be adopted by the European institutions. This multitude of acts was due, in particular, to the old EU pillar structure: each pillar had its own legal instruments.

The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this pillar structure. In addition, it introduces a new classification for legal acts. From now on, the European institutions may adopt only five types of act:

  • a regulation;
  • a directive;
  • a decision;
  • a recommendation;
  • an opinion.

According to Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, regulations, directives and decisions are binding acts. However, recommendations and opinions are not legally binding upon those to whom they are addressed.

Moreover, a decision no longer necessarily needs to specify an addressee. It thus has a broader remit and replaces, in particular, all the instruments formerly used in the area of the CFSP.

DELEGATED ACTS

The Treaty of Lisbon creates a new category of legal act: delegated acts. The legislator delegates the power to adopt acts amending non essential elements of a legislative act to the Commission.

For example, delegated acts may specify certain technical details or they may consist of a subsequent amendment to certain elements of a legislative act. The legislator can therefore concentrate on policy direction and objectives without entering into overly technical debates.

However, this delegation of power has strict limits. In effect, only the Commission can be authorised to adopt delegated acts. Furthermore, the legislator sets the conditions under which this delegation may be implemented. Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that the Council and the Parliament may revoke a delegation or limit its duration.

IMPLEMENTING ACTS

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the implementing powers of the Commission. The implementation of European law on Member States’ territories is, as a matter of principle, the responsibility of Member States. However, certain European measures require uniform implementation across the EU. Therefore, in these cases, the Commission is authorised to adopt implementing acts relating to the implementation of such measures.

Until the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, implementing power was held by the Council, which delegated the adoption of implementing acts to the Commission. From now on, Article 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU recognises the competence of principle of the Commission. Therefore, European measures which require uniform implementation in the Member States directly authorise the Commission to adopt implementing acts.

At the same time, the Treaty of Lisbon increases the powers of the Parliament with regard to monitoring the implementing powers of the Commission. The modalities of this monitoring were previously determined by the Council. From now on, these modalities shall be adopted by the ordinary legislative procedure, within which the Parliament is on an equal footing with the Council.

The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

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The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

adapt the way the European institutions function and how decisions are taken.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon has enabled several EU policies to be reformed. It has redefined and strengthened actions taken at European level.

HISTORY

A first attempt at reform took place with the drawing up of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The aim was to replace the founding Treaties of the EU with a European Constitution.

The Constitution was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. However, before entering into force it had to be ratified by all Member States. The ratification process failed in several Member States.

On 23 July 2007, a new intergovernmental conference was convened in Lisbon to find an alternative to the constitutional Treaty and to proceed with the reforms. The idea of a European Constitution was therefore abandoned and further negotiations took place with the aim of drawing up an amending Treaty.

On 13 December 2007, the 27 EU Heads of State or Government signed the new amending Treaty in Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009, after having been ratified by all Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

DIFFERENCES WITH THE TREATY ESTABLISHING A CONSTITUTION FOR EUROPE

The Treaty of Lisbon is broadly inspired by the Constitutional Treaty. The majority of the institutional and policy reforms envisaged in the Constitution are included in the Treaty of Lisbon, but presented in a different form.

The Constitutional Treaty was intended to repeal the founding Treaties of the EU and replace them with a single text: the Constitution for Europe. In contrast, the Treaty of Lisbon does not replace the founding Treaties; it only amends them as did the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties previously. The Treaty of Lisbon therefore takes the form of a series of amendments to the founding Treaties.

This change in form does not affect matters at the judicial level, but it does have a significant effect on a symbolic level and on policy plans. The idea of a European Constitution has been abandoned and European law is still established by international Treaties.

Therefore, the EU is still based on two founding Treaties: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. However, the Treaty establishing the European Community is renamed the “Treaty on the Functioning of the EU”.

THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE TREATY OF LISBON

The Treaty of Lisbon:

  • reforms the EU institutions and improves the EU decision-making process;
  • strengthens the democratic dimension of the EU;
  • reforms the internal policies of the EU;
  • strengthens the external policies of the EU.

Institutional issues

The reform of the EU institutions was necessary due to the increase in the number of Member States. Accordingly, the Treaty of Lisbon amends the rules concerning the composition of the Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon reforms the decision-making process within the Council. It effectively abolishes the old system of weighted voting and introduces a new definition of qualified majority voting for decisions.

The Treaty of Lisbon also creates two new functions in the EU institutional architecture:

  • the President of the European Council;
  • the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon strives to clarify and improve the functioning of the EU. It abolishes the old pillar structure and introduces a new distribution of competences between the EU and Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon also simplifies the legislative procedures and the types of legal acts adopted in the EU.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon makes the functioning of the EU more flexible. It introduces several institutional clauses aimed at facilitating European integration in certain policy areas. Establishing enhanced cooperation between Member States is also made easier.

The strengthening of European democracy

One of the aims of the Lisbon Treaty is to strengthen European democracy, particularly in order to improve the legitimacy of decisions and to bring the EU and its citizens closer together. Consequently, the powers of the European Parliament are increased considerably. Similarly, the Treaty of Lisbon gives national parliaments in the EU a larger role.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon creates the citizens’ initiative, enabling citizens to participate more actively in the building of Europe.

Internal policies of the EU

One of the most significant changes concerns the European area for freedom, security and justice. The Treaty of Lisbon increases EU powers in the areas of:

  • border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon clarifies EU powers in the area of economic, social and energy policies. It also sets as a new objective the creation of a European Research Area.

External policies of the EU

EU action at international level is increased. Above all, the Treaty of Lisbon gives greater coherence and visibility to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU therefore acquires legal personality, enabling it to negotiate and to be a contracting party in international Treaties. In addition, the EU is henceforth represented globally by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Furthermore, a section of the founding Treaties is now devoted to the Common Security and Defence Policy. The long-term objectives aim at establishing a Common European Defence.

Area of freedom, security and justice

Area of freedom, security and justice

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Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon intends to reinforce the establishment of a European common area within which persons move freely and benefit from effective legal protection. The creation of such an area has implications for areas in which European citizens have high expectations, such as immigration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. These issues have a significant cross-border dimension and therefore require effective cooperation at European level.

The Treaty of Lisbon divides the themes related to the area of freedom, security and justice into four fields:

  • policies related to border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Matters relating to criminal judicial cooperation and police cooperation were previously covered by the 3rd pillar of the European Union (EU), governed by intergovernmental cooperation. Under the framework of the 3rd pillar, European institutions did not have any competences and could therefore not adopt regulations or directives. The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this distinction and henceforth enables the EU to intervene in all matters related to the area of freedom, security and justice.

BORDER CONTROL, ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

The Treaty of Lisbon attributes new competences to the European institutions, which can henceforth adopt measures with a view to:

  • establishing common management of the EU’s external borders; in particular through the strengthening of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, known as Frontex;
  • creating a common European asylum system; such a system will be based on a uniform European status and common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of asylum;
  • establishing rules, conditions and rights in relation to legal immigration.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL MATTERS

The Treaty of Lisbon authorises the European institutions to adopt new measures concerning:

  • the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition: each judicial system must recognise decisions adopted by the judicial systems of the other Member States as valid and applicable;
  • effective access to justice;
  • the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement;
  • the training of the judiciary and judicial staff.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

With the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU, the whole of criminal judicial cooperation becomes a field in which the European institutions may legislate.

Specifically, the European institutions may henceforth establish minimum rules concerning the definition and sanctioning of the most serious criminal offences. In addition, the EU may also intervene in the definition of common rules concerning the functioning of criminal procedure, for example with regard to the admissibility of evidence or the rights of individuals.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon intends to strengthen the role of Eurojust in the EU. Eurojust’s mission is to help coordinate investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of Member States. Currently, Eurojust only has the power to make proposals: it can request national authorities to initiate investigations or prosecutions. Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon offers the European institutions the option of extending the missions and powers of Eurojust with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon considers the possible creation of an actual European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. Such an office would have significant powers as it could investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of crimes. In addition, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office would itself be capable of exercising the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of Member States.

Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet establish the European public prosecutor’s office, but merely authorises the Council, acting unanimously, to adopt a regulation in this regard. If the Council does not reach unanimity, then nine Member States, at the least, will have the option of establishing a European public prosecutor’s office between them under the framework of enhanced cooperation.

POLICE COOPERATION

As with criminal judicial cooperation, police cooperation benefits from the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU. Henceforth, the European institutions will be capable of adopting regulations and directives in this field.

The ordinary legislative procedure is thereby extended to all non-operational aspects of police cooperation. In contrast, operational cooperation will be determined through a special legislative procedure requiring Council unanimity. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also provides for the option of establishing enhanced cooperation if unanimity is not reached by the Council.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the gradual strengthening of the European Police Office (Europol). As with Eurojust, the Treaty of Lisbon henceforth authorises the Council and the Parliament to develop the missions and powers of Europol under the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure. Currently, the role of Europol is limited to facilitating cooperation between the authorities of Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon specifies that new tasks could also include the coordination, organisation and implementation of operational actions.

EXEMPTIONS

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark benefit from special arrangements, which include all the measures adopted under the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice. These three countries have the option of deciding not to participate in the legislative procedures in this field. They will, therefore, not be bound by the adopted measures.

In addition, two types of derogating clause are applied to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark:

  • an “opt-in” clause which enables each of them to participate, on a case by case basis, in the adoption procedure for a measure or the application of a measure already adopted. They will then be bound by this measure in the same way as other Member States;
  • an “opt-out” clause enabling them not to apply a measure at any time.

Common Security and Defence Policy

Common Security and Defence Policy

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Common Security and Defence Policy

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) replaces the former European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The Treaty of Lisbon introduces this name change by dedicating a new section in the founding Treaties to this policy. The Treaty of Lisbon emphasises the importance and specific nature of the CSDP, which still forms an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

In addition to this new recognition, the Treaty of Lisbon also introduces new provisions aimed at developing the CSDP. The main innovations aim to gradually establish a common European defence.

Member States may also participate in military or humanitarian missions and are henceforth bound by a solidarity clause on matters of European defence. They also have the means to cooperate more closely in this field, particularly in the European Defence Agency or through establishing permanent structured cooperation.

As in the preceding Treaties, the CSDP remains a fundamentally intergovernmental issue. The Council of the EU principally acts unanimously. However, the finance and operational means for missions carried out under the framework of the CSDP are provided by Member States.

ENLARGING THE MISSIONS CARRIED OUT UNDER THE CSDP FRAMEWORK

The CSDP offers a framework for cooperation within which the EU can conduct operational missions in third countries. Specifically, the aims of these missions are peace-keeping and strengthening international security. They rely on civil and military assets provided by Member States.

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, the tasks which could be carried out under the framework of the CSDP were:

  • humanitarian and rescue tasks;
  • conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks;
  • tasks of combat forces in crisis management.

The Treaty of Lisbon adds three new tasks to this list:

  • joint disarmament operations;
  • military advice and assistance tasks;
  • tasks in post-conflict stabilisation.

The Council defines the objectives of the tasks and the general conditions for their implementation. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council may henceforth delegate the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary civil and military assets to carry out the task. Member States responsible for carrying out tasks must regularly inform the Council of their progress. They also act in association with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Treaty of Lisbon acknowledges the potential intervention of multinational forces in the implementation of the CSDP. These forces are the result of the military alliance between certain Member States who have decided to combine their capacities, equipment and personnel strength. The main “Euroforces” are:

  • Eurofor, regrouping land forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
  • Eurocorps, regrouping land forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and Luxembourg;
  • Euromarfor, regrouping maritime forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
  • the European Air Group, regrouping air forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

MUTUAL DEFENCE CLAUSE

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces for the first time a mutual defence clause, specifically binding EU Member States. If a Member State is the victim of an armed attack on its territory, it can rely on the aid and assistance of the other Member States, which are obliged to help.

Two restrictions moderate this clause:

  • the mutual defence clause does not affect the security and defence policy of certain Member States, specifically those which are traditionally neutral;
  • the mutual defence clause does not affect the commitments made under the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

THE EUROPEAN DEFENCE AGENCY

The Treaty of Lisbon extends and lists the competences of the European Defence Agency. The main objective of the Agency is to improve Member States’ military capacities. To this end, the Agency shall:

  • set common objectives for Member States in terms of military capacity;
  • introduce and manage programmes in order to achieve the set objectives;
  • harmonise Member States’ operational needs and improve the methods for procuring military equipment;
  • manage defence technology research activities;
  • contribute to strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defence sector and improving the effectiveness of military expenditure.

PERMANENT STRUCTURED COOPERATION

Permanent structured cooperation refers to a deeper form of cooperation between Member States in the defence sector. It is the subject of a Protocol appended to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Under this framework, participating Member States commit to developing their defence capacities more intensively and to supplying combat units for planned missions. The European Defence Agency regularly assesses participating Member States’ contributions.

Permanent structured cooperation must be authorised by the Council, which acts by a qualified majority at the request of participating States. There is no Member States threshold for establishing permanent structured cooperation. Member States are free to withdraw or participate in the permanent structured cooperation as long as they meet the commitment criteria.

European Research Area and European Space Policy

European Research Area and European Space Policy

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European Research Area and European Space Policy

The Treaty of Lisbon strengthens European Union (EU) action in the field of research. It sets the objective of creating a genuine European Research Area. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon creates a legal basis enabling the EU to conduct a European Space Policy.

The field of research has particular importance in the EU. It was already at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy (2000). The new Europe 2020 strategy continues in this vein and sets the objective of making the EU a smart economy based on the development of knowledge and innovation. Research and technological development are essential fields in achieving this objective.

EUROPEAN RESEARCH AREA

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a legal basis for the creation of a European Research Area. Such an area is intended to permit, in particular, the free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and technologies. To this end, the EU encourages the removal of fiscal and legal obstacles to cooperation in the field of research.

The Treaty of Lisbon also authorises the Council and the Parliament to take all measures necessary for the creation of the European Research Area. The two institutions adopt these measures in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

The Council and the Parliament must therefore adopt a multiannual framework programme for the funding of all European projects in the field of research. This framework programme is adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure. The budget for the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) is EUR 50.5 billion, attesting to the importance attached to research in the EU. Moreover, it is the world’s largest international research programme.

Finally, in the field of research there is a special distribution of competences between the EU and Member States. According to Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the EU and the Member States have shared competence in the field of research and space. However, and contrary to the basic rule governing shared competence, the exercise of the EU’s competence does not limit the competence of Member States, which may therefore take action on their own account.

EUROPEAN SPACE POLICY

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new article permitting a European space policy (Article 189 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) to be drawn up. The main objectives of the space policy are to promote scientific and technical progress and industrial competitiveness.

The European space policy therefore includes activities in the areas of research, technological development, and the exploration and exploitation of space. In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, the Council and the European Parliament may establish a space programme covering the measures taken in these areas.

Moreover, the European space policy is broadly linked with the activities of the . This Agency is an international organisation which is completely independent of the EU. Its main mission is to draw up and implement common programmes in order to develop cooperation between EU Member States in the field of space.

The Treaty of Lisbon therefore confirms the cooperation between the EU and the European Space Agency. This cooperation is based on a framework agreement which entered into force in May 2004. This framework agreement led in particular to the creation of a Space Council bringing together representatives of the Council of the EU and the Council of the European Space Agency.

Services of general interest

Services of general interest

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Services of general interest

The Treaty of Lisbon offers better protection for services of general interest in the European Union (EU). In particular, it specifies the nature of these services and the principles connected to them.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon creates a new legal basis specific to services of general economic interest. The objective is to provide a legal framework for these services at European level.

DEFINITIONS

Services of general interest bring together market and non-market services which are subject to certain public service obligations, due in particular to the general interest they serve.

Services of general economic interest (SGEI) constitute a sub-category and bring together mainly market services. These services are also subject to public service obligations and as such may derogate from certain European rules, particularly in the area of competition. These services include services in the energy, transport and telecommunications sectors.

Article 106 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that undertakings entrusted with the operation of SGEI are subject to European law only in so far as these rules do not obstruct the particular tasks which they must carry out.

RECOGNISING SERVICES OF GENERAL INTEREST IN THE EU

Recognising services of general interest in the EU is complex as the means of managing these services vary widely depending on the traditions of the Member States. For a long time the EU considered SGEI solely from the perspective of competition law, for example by recognising that the implementation of SGEI could derogate from the rules of free competition.

However, the Treaty of Lisbon breaks new ground by adding a protocol on services of general interest to the founding Treaties. This protocol, which has the same legal value as the Treaties, specifies the protection to be afforded to SGEI at European level. It recognises:

  • the role and discretionary powers of the national authorities in operating SGEI;
  • the diversity of SGEI, due in particular to the geographical areas and different cultures;
  • the high level of quality, and the equal treatment of users and universal access to SGEI.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR SGEI AT EUROPEAN LEVEL

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces another innovation. It creates a new legal basis which enables the European institutions to adopt regulations concerning the operation of SGEI. Article 14 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that the Council and the Parliament may establish certain principles and conditions relating to the commissioning and financing of SGEI.

This legal basis should therefore enable the EU to reconcile the general interest in the best possible way with compliance with the rules on competition in the operation of SGEI. However, the Treaty on European Union specifies that EU intervention shall not affect the competency of Member States. The latter are therefore free to define and organise the SGEI which they provide to their citizens.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

The new supporting competences of the EU

The new supporting competences of the EU

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The new supporting competences of the EU

The Treaty of Lisbon creates four new areas of competence in which the European Union (EU) may intervene: civil protection, administrative cooperation, tourism and sport.

The EU’s new competences in these areas are supporting competences. The EU does not acquire any additional legislative powers insofar as it can act only to support the actions of Member States, without being able to harmonise national law.

Moreover, the EU already intervened in these areas by means of cross-cutting policies. From now on, the Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the EU’s objectives and action by creating specific legal bases for these four areas.

CIVIL PROTECTION

The Treaty of Lisbon endeavours to improve the EU’s ability to deal with natural or man-made disasters. Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU enables the EU to adopt measures relating to:

  • risk prevention;
  • preparing civil-protection personnel;
  • responding to natural or man-made disasters;
  • international cooperation between national civil-protection services;
  • consistency in international civil-protection work.

Moreover, these provisions on civil protection are to be linked with the solidarity clause in Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. This clause enables the EU to assist a Member State which has been the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

ADMINISTRATIVE COOPERATION

Administrative cooperation between Member States becomes a competence of the EU (Article 197 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). The aim is to guarantee the effective implementation of European law, particularly by improving the effectiveness of Member States’ administrations. The EU can therefore adopt new measures aimed at facilitating the exchange of good practice between Member States and the introduction of training programmes.

However, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU places two restrictions on the exercise of this new power:

  • a Member State may not, under any circumstances, be obliged to avail itself of the support of the Union;
  • the Union may not adopt measures relating to the harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.

TOURISM

Tourism was already present in several European policies, such as regional policy and employment policy. From now on, the Treaty creates a specific legal basis in order to enable the EU to intervene in this area (Article 195 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

EU action can therefore have two objectives:

  • creating a favorable environment for the development of undertakings in the tourism sector;
  • promoting cooperation between the Member States, particularly through the exchange of good practice.

SPORT

The Treaty of Lisbon confirms the EU’s competence in the area of sport. However, it does not create a specific article but incorporates a legal basis relating to sport into the section of the Treaties devoted to education, vocational training and young people.

Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that the EU’s objective is to promote European sporting issues. Specifically, the EU will be able for example to support Member States’ actions aimed at protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen or actions aimed at combating doping in sport.

The EU will also be able to develop cooperation with international bodies in the area of sport.

Economic and monetary policy

Economic and monetary policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Economic and monetary policy

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Economic and monetary policy

The Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the role held by the Commission in the economic policy of the European Union (EU). In particular, the Commission acquires greater powers of supervision in order to ensure that Member States comply with European requirements.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon improves the economic governance of the EU by strengthening the EU’s monetary policy in particular.

EU economic policy provides that Member States’ economic policies should be geared towards common objectives. It also defines a monetary policy common to all Member States, the principal objective of which is to maintain price stability.

Furthermore, the Member States in the euro area, namely those which have adopted the euro as a single currency, also have a more detailed monetary policy specific to the euro.

ECONOMIC POLICY

EU economic policy is based on two types of commitment on the part of Member States:

  • the broad guidelines for economic policies (BGEPs): the BGEPs take the form of recommendations adopted by the Council. Their objective is to harmonise the economic policies of the Member States around joint objectives;
  • the stability and growth pact: the objective of this pact is to control Member States’ public deficits. Member States are required to comply with maximum thresholds concerning public debt and central government deficit.

Compliance with the BGEPs and the public deficit thresholds is the subject of supervision carried out by the Commission and the Council. The Treaty of Lisbon further strengthens the supervisory role of the Commission. The latter is henceforth able to address warnings directly to Member States when it considers that they have not met their commitments. Previously, it could only submit a request to the Council in this respect.

When such a warning is addressed by the Commission, the Council may then adopt a recommendation addressed to the Member State. The Treaty of Lisbon introduces two clarifications in this area:

  • henceforth the Member State concerned cannot take part in the vote on any recommendation which might be addressed to it;
  • if the Member State concerned is in the euro area, only Member States in the euro area may take part in the vote on any recommendation.

MONETARY POLICY

The Treaty of Lisbon does not significantly change the monetary policy common to all Member States.

The main innovation concerns the formal recognition of the European Central Bank (ECB) as an EU institution.

Furthermore, the powers of the European Parliament are strengthened with regard to amending the statutes of the ECB. Such amendments henceforth rely on the ordinary legislative procedure.

MONETARY POLICY SPECIFIC TO THOSE MEMBER STATES USING THE EURO AS CURRENCY

The Treaty of Lisbon makes more significant changes with regard to the monetary policy specific to the euro area.

First, the Treaty of Lisbon confirms the exclusive competence of the EU in monetary policy matters for Member States which have adopted the euro (Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

The Treaty of Lisbon also confirms for the first time the existence of Eurogroup. Eurogroup’s objective is to increase the growth of the euro area through closer cooperation between Member States.

Furthermore, the Member States in the euro area shall acquire decisional autonomy for certain measures which concern them directly. Thus, Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that only euro area States may participate in votes on measures with the particular aim of:

  • coordinating and monitoring the budgetary discipline of Member States using the euro as their currency;
  • drafting guidelines on economic policies specific to the euro and compatible with the BGEPs.

Lastly, the Treaty of Lisbon offers Member States which have adopted the euro the option of establishing unified representation of the euro area within international financial institutions. In addition, only Member States in the euro area will be able to vote on the positions that the Union adopts in international fora on issues relating to economic and monetary Union.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

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The other institutions and bodies of the Union

The Treaty of Lisbon undertakes a vast institutional reform which mainly concerns the European Council, the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the Court of Justice. To a lesser extent, the Treaty of Lisbon also makes a number of changes relating to the composition and functioning of the EU’s two advisory committees. It also awards the European Central Bank the status of institution.

THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE

The number of seats for Member States within the Committee is limited to 350. The distribution of these seats between Member States is no longer included in the Treaty of Lisbon, as was the case previously. As it is required to do henceforth for the distribution of seats in the Parliament, the Council unanimously adopts a decision laying down rules on the composition of the Committee. Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon extends the term of office of members of the Committee from 4 to 5 years, bringing it into line with that of members of the Commission and the Parliament. Consequently, the Committee chairman and officers will now be elected by their peers for two and a half years rather than for two years.

As part of its advisory role, the Economic and Social Committee may henceforth issue opinions following a referral from the European Parliament.

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

As with the European Economic and Social Committee, the number of seats within the Committee of the regions is limited to 350 and the distribution of seats by Member State must be the subject of a unanimous Council decision. The members of the Committee of the Regions are henceforth appointed for a term of five years, instead of four, while its chairman and officers are elected for two and a half years.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the advisory role of the Committee of the Regions by extending its area of activity. Civil protection, climate change, energy and services of general interest are therefore added to the list of fields in which the Committee is to be consulted. On the same basis as the Commission and the Council, the European Parliament is also authorised to seek an opinion from the Committee of the Regions.

The Committee of the Regions also has new powers within the EU as a result of the possibility of bringing two types of action before the Court of Justice of the EU. On the one hand, the Committee becomes one of the guarantors of the principle of subsidiarity within the EU. It may bring an action before the Court of Justice seeking the annulment of an act deemed not to comply with the principle of subsidiarity (Article 8 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality). However, this right of referral is limited to acts for which the Committee has to be consulted. On the other hand, Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU authorises the Committee to bring an action before the Court of Justice of the EU for the purpose of protecting its own prerogatives. It therefore has legal means which henceforth enable it to ensure that the EU institutions respect its right to be consulted.

THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

The ECB is granted the status of EU institution on the same basis as the European Council, the Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors. It thereby becomes the only institution granted legal personality.

It is run by three main bodies:

  • the Governing Council of the ECB, which comprises the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the national central banks of the Euro zone countries. It is the main decision-making body and defines the monetary policy of the Euro zone;
  • the Executive Board, the six members of which are henceforth appointed by the European Council acting by a qualified majority in order to limit the risks of blocking;
  • the General Council, which comprises the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the central banks of all Member States.

The Treaty of Lisbon also clarifies the two principal missions of the ECB:

  • the ECB and the central banks of the EU Member States form the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). The main objective of the ESCB is to maintain price stability. It also contributes to the general economic policies of the Union;
  • the ECB and the central banks of Member States which have adopted the Euro make up the Eurosystem. In contrast with the ESCB, the Eurosystem defines and conducts the monetary policy of the Union. Until now, ‘Eurosystem’ was a term used informally by the ECB. It is henceforth fully recognised by the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Treaty of Lisbon finally reaffirms the independence of the ECB. This independence is guaranteed by the relatively long term of office of the members of the Executive Board (eight years) and by the prohibition banning the ECB and the national central banks from accepting instructions from the other EU institutions, governments of Member States or any other body.

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

282 to 284

Composition and prerogatives of the European Central Bank

301 to 304

Composition and prerogatives of the European Economic and Social Committee

305 to 307

Composition and prerogatives of the Committee of the Regions

The Court of Justice of the European Union

The Court of Justice of the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Court of Justice of the European Union

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

The Court of Justice of the European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon is aimed at improving the functioning of the judicial system of the European Union (EU) and at the same time adapting it to developments in European law. The Court of Justice of the EU has therefore been subject to internal reforms with changes both to its structure and to the names of judicial bodies. The Treaty of Lisbon also increases the judicial control of the Court by granting it new competences and widening its controls to other EU bodies.

JUDICIAL BODIES

The Treaty of Lisbon amends the very names of the EU bodies. From now on, the Court of Justice of the EU shall designate all of the EU’s judicial system which is composed of:

  • the Court of Justice;
  • the General Court, formerly known as “Court of First Instance”;
  • the specialised courts, formerly known as “judicial chambers”.

These name changes are aimed at clarifying the EU’s judicial system and do not involve any changes to the prerogatives of the bodies in question.

The Treaty of Lisbon also improves the flexibility of the EU’s judicial system. The amendment of the Court’s Statute and the creation of new specialised courts now forms part of ordinary legislative procedure and no longer necessitates a Decision issued by the Council acting unanimously.

The procedure for the appointment of judges and Advocates-General has been considerably amended. The Treaty of Lisbon has established an Advisory Committee for their appointment. The number of Advocates-General, currently standing at 8, has been increased to 11.

JUDICIAL CONTROL

The Treaty of Lisbon extends the Court’s judicial control to acts of the European Council. In addition, it harmonises provisions relating to acts of EU agencies and bodies. Such acts may now be the subject of appeal to the Court of the Justice of the EU.

The Treaty of Lisbon also widens access to appeal by new appellants. National Parliaments and the Committee of the Regions may thus request the annulment of acts that they consider are contrary to the principle of subsidiarity. The Committee of the Regions may, furthermore, refer matters to the Court of Justice of the EU in order to safeguard its own prerogatives.

The Treaty of Lisbon makes a minor adjustment regarding appeals presented by individuals. The latter may now appeal against regulatory acts without enforcement measures being required. However, admissibility conditions requiring that individuals be directly and personally concerned by the contested act have been maintained.

Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon simplifies the sanction mechanism in the event of non-execution of a judgment. The Commission can now refer matters to the Court after first having served formal notice on a Member State to execute a judgment. The intermediary phase during which the Commission was obliged to deliver a reasoned opinion has therefore been abolished.

The Treaty of Lisbon also simplifies the non-compliance procedure in the event that a Member State does not communicate national measures concerning transposition. In this case, the Commission may at the same time bring action for failure to fulfil obligations and request pecuniary sanctions, whereas previously two separate actions were necessary.

AREAS OF COMPETENCE

The judicial control of the Court has been extended to the area of freedom, security and justice. Acts relating to visas, asylum, immigration and other policies on the free movement of persons may now be the subject of appeal, which constitutes major progress in the building of Europe. However, the Treaty of Lisbon establishes restrictions to this new judicial review. The Court may not rule on police operations carried out by a Member State, or on the responsibilities of Member States as regards the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security.

The principle excluding the area of common foreign and security policy from the Court’s jurisdiction remains unchanged. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon introduces two exceptions where matters may be referred to the Court:

  • against restrictive measures taken by the Union against natural or legal persons (Article 275 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU);
  • for international agreements; if the opinion of the Court is adverse, the agreement in question may not enter into force unless it is amended or the Treaties are revised (Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on European Union

19

The role and composition of the Court of Justice of the EU

Treaty on the Functioning of the EU

251 to 281

The functioning and powers of the Court of Justice of the EU

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.