Tag Archives: Lisbon

Common Security and Defence Policy

Common Security and Defence Policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Common Security and Defence Policy

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

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

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Research Area and European Space Policy

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

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.

The European Council

The European Council

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The European Council

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

The European Council

The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the institutional architecture of the European Union (EU). It finally accords the status of institution to the European Council. This recognition has been a gradual process. The first summits between Heads of State and Government which resulted in the European Council were held informally starting in 1961. In 1974, these meetings became regular and adopted the name of “European Council”. The Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht in turn specified the nature of the European Council.

The Treaty of Lisbon therefore marks an important stage in that it clarifies and fully recognises the role and functions of the European Council within the EU. It also changes the composition of the European Council, which is chaired by a permanent President from now on.

ROLE

The Treaty of Lisbon includes the European Council among the institutions of the Union. Its role is to provide political impetus. It does not exercise legislative functions. It defines the priorities for the construction of Europe and indicates the direction to be taken by European policies. The European Council thus defines a schedule and specific objectives for the Council of the EU, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The central role of the European Council in the EU is also illustrated by its power of appointment. It proposes the candidate for the post of President of the European Commission and appoints the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. From now on, it will also elect its President.

COMPOSITION

The European Council is composed of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, the President of the European Council and the President of the Commission. Depending on the agenda, the members of the European Council may decide to call on the assistance of a minister and, in the case of the President of the Commission, of a Commissioner. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also participates in its work.

FUNCTIONING

Before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Treaty on European Union provided that the European Council met at least twice a year. In practice, a European Council takes place at the end of each Presidency, in June and December; two additional Council meetings are also organised in March and June. The Treaty of Lisbon confirms this practice and specifies that, from now on, the European Council must meet twice every six months, convened by its President. In addition, when the situation so requires, the President may convene an extraordinary meeting of the European Council.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL

The creation of the post of President of the European Council is a major innovation of the Treaty of Lisbon. The latter is elected by the European Council by a qualified majority for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. The European Council may end that term in the event of impediment or gross misconduct, in accordance with the same procedure. The Treaty of Lisbon stresses that the President may not hold a national office, but does not rule out potential compatibility with an office within another European institution.

The main role of the President is to improve the cohesion and effectiveness of the work carried out within the European Council. The President therefore assumes the functions which were previously carried out by the rotating Presidencies of the EU, namely:

  • chairing and driving forward the work of the European Council;
  • ensuring the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council;
  • facilitating cohesion and consensus within the European Council.

The President is also required to present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

Finally, the President of the European Council fulfils a diplomatic function by increasing the visibility of Europe. The President fulfils the latter role without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on European Union

15

Role and composition of the European Council; appointment and powers of the President of the European Council

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

235 and 236

Functioning and responsibilities of the European Council

The Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Council of the European Union

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Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

The Council of the European Union

A Protocol on the institutions with the prospect of enlargement has been annexed to the EU Treaty and to the Treaties establishing the European Communities. It lays down a number of institutional conditions that will have to be met at the next enlargement and provides for another Intergovernmental Conference to be convened before the membership of the European Union exceeds twenty. The present structure is the legacy of an organisation designed for six member states and although it has been adjusted to take account of the accession of new members, it still operates today on the same institutional principles.

The Council is facing two main questions:

  • weighting of votes of Member States’ representatives;
  • the scope of qualified majority voting.

The Protocol on the institutions incorporates in a common framework the questions of the weighting of votes in the Council and the size of the Commission, the underlying idea being to revise the Community system so that the relative influence of the small and medium-sized countries should not one day become disproportionate to the size of their population.

The question of the weighting is particularly important owing to the extension of qualified majority voting, since that method of decision-making applies to most of the new provisions introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam. At the same time, qualified majority voting has also been extended to a number of existing provisions.

The General Secretariat of the Council now also has a special role to play in the context of common foreign and security policy.

RE-WEIGHTING OF VOTES AND DUAL MAJORITY

Re-weighting of votes or the introduction of a dual majority are two of the options between which the Member States will have to choose before the next enlargement of the European Union. Re-weighting would mean that the proportion of votes allocated to the large countries would be increased in relation to those of the small States. A dual majority, on the other hand, would not, in theory, alter the present weighting but would provide that, for a decision to be adopted within the Council, it would not only have to obtain a number of votes representing a qualified majority, but also correspond to a threshold, yet to be decided on, of the population of the European Union.

The Protocol on the institutions links these questions affecting the Council with the reform of the Commission. In practical terms it requires that, on the date of entry into force of the first enlargement, the Commission will comprise one national of each of the Member States, provided that, by that date, the weighting of the votes in the Council has been modified, whether by re-weighting of the votes or by dual majority, in a manner acceptable to all Member States.

GREATER USE OF QUALIFIED MAJORITY VOTING

Use of qualified majority voting has been extended to cover the following provisions of the EC Treaty (the article numbers reflect the new numbering):

  • the coordination of provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action providing for special treatment for foreign nationals (right of establishment, Article 46(2));
  • the adoption or amendment of the framework programme for research (Article 166);
  • the setting-up of joint undertakings for research and technological development (Articles 171 and 172).

Qualified majority voting also applies to the following new areas introduced into the EC Treaty:

  • guidelines on employment (Article 128);
  • adoption of incentive measures for employment (Article 129);
  • adoption of measures to strengthen customs cooperation between Member States and between them and the Commission (Article 135)
  • measures to combat social exclusion (Article 137 (2));
  • adoption of measures to ensure the application of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women (Article 141 (3));
  • promotion of public health (Article 152 (4));
  • the determining of general principles governing the right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Article 255);
  • measures to combat fraud affecting the financial interests of the Community (Article 280);
  • adoption of measures on the establishment of statistics (Article 285);
  • establishment of an independent supervisory body responsible for monitoring processing of personal data (Article 286);
  • laying down the conditions governing the application of the EC Treaty to the outermost regions (Article 299);

Qualified majority voting is now also used in two cases relating to the common foreign and security policy (Title V of the EU Treaty):

  • when adopting decisions implementing a common strategy decided on by the European Council;
  • when adopting any decision implementing joint actions or common positions adopted in advance by the Council.

GENERAL-SECRETARIAT

The Secretary-General of the Council now serves as High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, while the running of the General Secretariat is handled by a Deputy Secretary-General who, like the Secretary-General, is appointed by unanimous Council decision.

The High Representative for the common foreign and security policy assists the Presidency and the Council, in particular by contributing to the formulation, preparation, and implementation of policy decisions. He also fulfils a representative function and is assisted by a policy planning and early warning unit under his responsibility.


Another Normative about The Council of the European Union

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

The Council of the European Union

The role of the Council of the European Union remains unchanged. It shares law-making and budget power with the European Parliament and also has a role in defining and coordinating policies. However, the Treaty of Lisbon makes substantial changes in terms of the organisation of the Council’s work and internal structure.

The Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice had already made extensive changes to the system of voting in the Council in order to adapt it to the successive enlargements of the European Union (EU). The system of vote weighting has now been abolished and replaced by a new dual majority system. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon improves the Council’s transparency by adding several provisions concerning its configurations and Presidency.

THE NEW DEFINITION OF QUALIFIED MAJORITY

The decision-making process within the Council is changing fundamentally. The earlier amending treaties had established a system of vote weighting. Each Member State had a certain number of votes depending on its demographic weight. Under this system, a decision was adopted only if a certain vote threshold was reached by a majority of Member States. Since 1 January 2007, a qualified majority was achieved if 255 out of 345 votes were cast by at least 14 Member States. The weighting of votes in the Council favoured the representation of small Member States compared with the larger States and was regularly the subject of long negotiations.

The Treaty of Lisbon simplifies the system with a view to improving its efficiency. It abolishes the weighting of votes and establishes a dual majority system for adopting decisions. From now on, a qualified majority is achieved if it covers at least 55% of Member States representing at least 65% of the population of the EU. Where the Council does not act on a proposal from the Commission, the qualified majority should cover at least 72% of Member States representing at least 65% of the population. This system therefore assigns a vote to each Member State while taking account of their demographic weight. The Treaty of Lisbon also provides for a blocking minority composed of at least four Member States representing over 35% of the EU population.

This new system of qualified majority voting will apply with effect from 1 November 2014. However, until 31 March 2017, any Member State may request, on a case by case basis, that a decision is taken in accordance with the rules in force before 1 November 2014 (i.e. in accordance with the qualified majority as defined by the Treaty of Nice).

In addition, Member States may request the application of the “Ioannina compromise” enshrined by the Treaty of Lisbon in Declaration No 7. This provision enables a group of Member States to demonstrate their opposition to a text even if the group is not large enough in number to constitute a blocking majority. In this case, the group of Member States must notify the Council of its opposition to the adoption of the act. The Council must then do everything within its power to find a satisfactory solution in order to address the concerns raised by the group of Member States. Moreover, these deliberations within the Council are completed within a reasonable period and should not prejudice the time-limits laid down by the law of the Union. The “Ioannina compromise” therefore remains, above all, a political compromise expressing the Council’s wish to find an agreement which satisfies as many Member States as possible on important issues.

The Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice greatly increased the scope of qualified majority voting. The Treaty of Lisbon confirms this trend. The Council now acts by qualified majority, except where the Treaties require a different procedure. Specifically, qualified majority voting is extended to new areas such as the common policy on asylum, culture or sport.

THE CONFIGURATIONS OF THE COUNCIL

For the sake of transparency, the Treaty of Lisbon specifies and clarifies the way in which the Council functions. The Council sits in different configurations, within which the competent Ministers of Member States meet. This practice is now laid down in the Treaty on European Union. The Treaty refers explicitly to two Council configurations:

  • the General Affairs Council, which is responsible for ensuring consistency in the work of the different Council configurations and for preparing for European Council meetings;
  • the Foreign Affairs Council, which is responsible for developing the foreign policies of the European Union.

The European Council adopts by qualified majority the list of other configurations in which the Council meets.

The Treaty of Lisbon also improves transparency in terms of decision-making within the Council. Like the European Parliament, the Council now sits in public when deliberating and voting on a legislative bill.

THE PRESIDENCY OF THE DIFFERENT COUNCIL CONFIGURATIONS

The Presidency of the different Council configurations continues to be held by representatives of the Member States on the basis of an equal rotation system. The Foreign Affairs Council is an exception, being chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Moreover, the rules on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council have been adopted by European Council Decision No 2009/881/EU.

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on European Union

16

Role and composition of the Council of the EU

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

237 to 243

Functioning of the Council of the EU

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The other institutions and bodies of the Union

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

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

Division of competences within the European Union

Division of competences within the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Division of competences within the European Union

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

Division of competences within the European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the division of competences between the European Union (EU) and Member States. It introduces a precise classification for the first time in the founding Treaties, distinguishing between three main types of competence: exclusive competences, shared competences and supporting competences.

This attempt at clarification does not result in any notable transfer of competence. However, this reform is important and vital for the proper functioning of the EU. Several conflicts of competence have emerged in the past between the EU and Member States. Henceforth, the boundaries between the competences of each are clearly defined. In addition, this transparency facilitates the application of the fundamental principles relating to the control and exercise of these competences.

ABOLITION OF THE PILLARS OF THE EU

One of the most notable changes resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon concerns the abolition of the three-pillar structure of the EU. These pillars were:

  • the European Community;
  • the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP);
  • police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Within this structure, several types of competence were superimposed. Acts adopted under the framework of the first pillar were adopted in accordance with the EU’s legislative procedures. In contrast, the other two pillars were based on intergovernmental cooperation between Member States.

The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this complicated structure. The European Community disappears. It is replaced by the EU, which is endowed with legislative procedures enabling it to exercise the competences conferred upon it to the full extent. Moreover, the EU also acquires legal personality, which was previously reserved for the old Community. It is therefore able henceforth to conclude treaties in the fields coming within its area of competence.

THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF COMPETENCE

The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) distinguishes between three types of competence and draws up a non-exhaustive list of the fields concerned in each case:

  • exclusive competences (Article 3 of the TFEU): the EU alone is able to legislate and adopt binding acts in these fields. The Member States’ role is therefore limited to applying these acts, unless the Union authorises them to adopt certain acts themselves;
  • shared competences (Article 4 of the TFEU): the EU and Member States are authorised to adopt binding acts in these fields. However, Member States may exercise their competence only in so far as the EU has not exercised, or has decided not to exercise, its own competence;
  • supporting competences (Article 6 of the TFEU): the EU can only intervene to support, coordinate or complement the action of Member States. Consequently, it has no legislative power in these fields and may not interfere in the exercise of these competences reserved for Member States.

SPECIAL COMPETENCES

The EU has special competences in certain fields:

  • the coordination of economic and employment policies (Article 5 of the TFEU): the EU is responsible for ensuring the coordination of these policies. It is required to define the broad direction and guidelines to be followed by Member States;
  • the CFSP (Article 24 of the Treaty on EU): the EU has competence in all fields connected with the CFSP. It defines and implements this policy via, among others, the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, whose roles and status have been recognised by the Treaty of Lisbon. However, the EU may not adopt legislative acts in this field. In addition, the Court of Justice of the EU does not have competence to give judgment in this area;
  • the “flexibility clause” (Article 352 of the TFEU): this clause enables the EU to act beyond the power of action conferred upon it by the Treaties if the objective pursued so requires. However, this clause is framed by a strict procedure and by certain restrictions in terms of its application.

THE EXERCISE OF COMPETENCES

The exercise of Union competences is subject to three fundamental principles which appear in Article 5 of the Treaty on EU. The definition of EU competences greatly facilitates the proper application of these principles:

  • the principle of conferral: the Union has only the competences conferred upon it by the Treaties;
  • the principle of proportionality: the exercise of EU competences may not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties;
  • the principle of subsidiarity: for shared competences, the EU may intervene only if it is capable of acting more effectively than the Member States;

TRANSFER OF COMPETENCES

The current division of competences between the EU and Member States is not set in stone. However, the reduction or extension of EU competences is a delicate matter which requires the consent of all Member States and necessitates a revision of the Treaties.

The strengthening of European democracy

The strengthening of European democracy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The strengthening of European democracy

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

The strengthening of European democracy

The Treaty of Lisbon puts the citizen back at the heart of the European Union (EU) and its institutions. It aims to revive the citizen’s interest in the EU and its achievements, which sometimes appear too remote. One objective of the Treaty of Lisbon is to promote European democracy which offers citizens the opportunity to take an interest in and participate in the functioning and development of the EU.

Such an objective necessarily depends on better recognition of European citizenship in the founding Treaties of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon also endeavours to simplify and clarify the functioning of the Union in order to make it more understandable, and therefore more accessible to citizens. Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the representation and participation of the citizen in the European process. The creation of a citizens’ initiative is one of the main innovations.

BETTER RECOGNITION OF CITIZENS IN THE TREATIES

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new article in which it fully recognises European citizenship. Article 10 of the Treaty on EU provides that citizens are directly represented at institutional level by the European Parliament. The article adds that this representative democracy is one of the foundations of the EU. Such recognition does not give citizens new rights but it does have strong symbolic value in that it enshrines the principle of European citizenship in the founding Treaties.

Article 10 also establishes a principle of proximity which provides that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to the citizens. This principle applies especially in the implementation of competences within the EU. This implementation should involve national and local administrations as effectively as possible, so as to bring the EU closer to its citizens.

A EUROPEAN UNION MORE ACCESSIBLE TO CITIZENS

The EU has often dismissed the image of a body with a complex structure and procedures. The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the functioning of the EU in order to improve citizens’ understanding of it. The vast numbers of legislative procedures are now giving way to a standard procedure and special legislative procedures detailed on a case by case basis. Similarly, the old pillar structure has been abolished in favour of a clear and precise division of competences within the EU.

In the same context, the Treaty of Lisbon improves the transparency of work within the EU. It extends to the Council the principle of public conduct of proceedings, which is already applied within the European Parliament. Moreover, this greater transparency will result in better information for citizens about the content of legislative proceedings.

STRONGER REPRESENTATION AT INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL

The Treaty of Lisbon greatly strengthens the powers of the European Parliament (see European Parliament). The most significant changes include:

  • the strengthening of legislative power: the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the Parliament has the same powers as the Council, is extended to new policy areas;
  • a greater role at international level: the Parliament shall approve international agreements in the fields covered by the ordinary legislative procedure;
  • the strengthening of budgetary power: the Parliament is henceforth placed on an equal footing with the Council in the procedure for adopting the EU’s annual budget.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon enhances the role of national parliaments in the EU (see national parliaments). The latter are also able to defend the views of citizens within the EU. More specifically, national parliaments must henceforth ensure the proper application of the principle of subsidiarity. In this respect, they are able to intervene in the ordinary legislative procedure and have a right of referral to the Court of Justice of the EU.

GREATER PARTICIPATION OF CITIZENS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

The Treaty of Lisbon establishes a right of citizens’ initiative for the first time, introduced by Article 11 of the Treaty on EU: not less than one million European nationals may invite the Commission to submit a proposal on a specific matter. This provision expresses the EU’s wish to involve its citizens in European projects and in the taking of decisions that concern them.

Such a right is subject to several conditions. The minimum threshold of one million citizens may seem high at first sight. However, it is relatively easy to achieve in a European population approaching half a billion inhabitants and through the use of new communications technologies. Article 11 also provides that the signatory citizens should come from a significant number of Member States, in order to avoid the defence of essentially national interests.

Moreover, the right of citizens’ initiative does not take away the initiative monopoly of the European Commission. The latter remains free to act, or not to act, on the initiative proposed by European citizens. If the initiative gives rise to a legislative proposal, the act will be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure or a special legislative procedure.

Legislative procedures

Legislative procedures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legislative procedures

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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

Legislative procedures

The Treaty of Lisbon is aimed at strengthening the capacity of the European Union (EU) to decide and to act, whilst guaranteeing the legitimacy of decisions adopted. It therefore reforms the EU’s decision-making process, in particular by amending the legislative procedures in force.

Article 289 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU now only refers to two types of legislative procedure:

  • ordinary legislative procedure;
  • special legislative procedures.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon introduces ‘passerelle clauses’. These clauses enable the ordinary legislative procedure to be generalised, under certain conditions, to areas that were initially outside its scope.

ordinary legislative procedure

The ordinary legislative procedure replaces the former codecision procedure. This procedure is the most legitimate from a democratic point of view. It involves the European Parliament as a co-legislator at the Council’s side. Over time, it has also become the most widely used legislative procedure. The Treaty of Lisbon therefore confirms this trend by changing its name and establishing it as a common law procedure. Continuing on from previous Treaties, the Treaty of Lisbon also extends the ordinary legislative procedure to new areas of policy (see file “Extension of voting by qualified majority and the ordinary legislative procedure”).

The modalities of the ordinary legislative procedure are the same as those of the former codecision procedure. They are described in Article 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The Council and the Parliament are placed on an equal footing. The two institutions adopt legislative acts either at first reading, or at second reading. If, following the second reading, the two institutions have still not reached agreement, a Conciliation Committee is convened.

In addition, the voting rule under the ordinary legislative procedure is qualified majority. In order to facilitate decision-making and strengthen the effectiveness of the procedure, the Treaty of Lisbon has also laid down a new definition of a qualified majority (see file “Council of the European Union”).

special legislative procedures

Special legislative procedures replace the former consultative, cooperation and assent procedures. The objective is to simplify the EU’s decision-making process by making it clearer and more effective. As their name indicates, these procedures derogate from the ordinary legislative procedure and therefore constitute exceptions.

In special legislative procedures, the Council of the EU is, in practice, the sole legislator. The European Parliament is simply associated with the procedure. Its role is thus limited to consultation or approval depending on the case.

Unlike the ordinary legislative procedure, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU does not give a precise description of special legislative procedures. The rules of special legislative procedures are therefore defined on an ad hoc basis by the Articles of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU that provide for their implementation.

PASSERELLE CLAUSES

The Treaty of Lisbon has introduced passerelle clauses in order to be able to apply the ordinary legislative procedure to areas for which the Treaties had laid down a special legislative procedure. Furthermore, these clauses also allow voting by qualified majority to be applied to acts that are to be adopted unanimously.

There are two types of passerelle clause:

  • the general passerelle clause applying to all European policies; activation of this clause must be authorised by a Decision of the European Council acting unanimously (see file “Amendment of Treaties”);
  • specific passerelle clauses relating to certain European policies.

Specific passerelle clauses have some procedural particularities with respect to the general passerelle clause. As an example, national Parliaments do not generally have a right to object, which is granted to them by the general clause. In other cases, the application of certain specific clauses may be authorised by a Decision of the Council, and not of the European Council as is the case for the general clause. The implementing rules for the specific clauses therefore differ from case to case and are described in the Articles of the Treaties providing for their application.

There are six specific passerelle clauses to be applied to:

  • the multiannual financial framework (Article 312 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU);
  • the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Article 31 of the Treaty on European Union);
  • judicial cooperation concerning family law (Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). This specific clause is the only clause regarding which national Parliaments retain a right to object;
  • reinforced cooperation in areas governed by unanimity or by a special legislative procedure (Article 333 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU);
  • social affairs (Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU);
  • environmental matters (Article 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning 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.

Energy

Energy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Energy

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

Energy

Energy

Energy is what makes Europe tick. It is essential, then, for the European Union (EU) to address the major energy challenges facing us today, i.e. climate change, our increasing dependence on imports, the strain on energy resources and access for all users to affordable, secure energy. The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy – covering the full range of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal) – in a bid to spark a new industrial revolution that will deliver a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we do consume more secure, competitive and sustainable.

Energy Contents

  • European energy policy: Energy policy for Europe, Market-based instruments, Energy technologies, Financial instruments
  • Internal energy market: The market in gas and in electricity, Trans-European energy networks, Infrastructure, Security of supply, Public procurement, Taxation
  • Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency of products, Buildings and services
  • Renewable energy: Electricity, Heating and cooling, Biofuels
  • Nuclear energy: Euratom, Research and technology, Safety, Waste
  • Security of supply, external dimension and enlargement: Security of supply, External relations, European Energy Charter, Treaty establishing the Energy Community, Enlargement

Another Normative about Energy

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

Energy

 

The Treaty of Lisbon recognises the importance of energy policy by dedicating a specific chapter to it in the founding Treaties of the European Union (EU). The EU henceforth has clearly defined competences in order to meet the common objectives of Member States on energy-related matters.

The international situation and the development of energy-related issues have demonstrated the importance of a European energy policy. A European response is therefore the most effective way of dealing with issues such as environmental protection, the security of energy supply and the dialogue with energy producing countries.

A NEW LEGAL BASIS FOR ENERGY POLICY AT EUROPEAN LEVEL

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, the founding Treaties of the EU did not include a specific provision on EU intervention in the field of energy.

Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon introduces a specific legal basis for the field of energy with the creation of Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. In particular, this innovation makes it possible to explain and clarify EU action in the area of energy.

The EU is entitled to take measures at European level to:

  • ensure the functioning of the energy market;
  • ensure security of energy supply;
  • promote energy efficiency;
  • promote the interconnection of energy networks.

Furthermore, the European Council and the European Parliament shall adopt legislative acts based on the ordinary legislative procedure after consultation of the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. However, for the adoption of measures of a fiscal nature, the Council shall act unanimously after consultation with the Parliament.

THE DELIMITATION OF EU COMPETENCES IN THE FIELD OF ENERGY

Energy henceforth forms part of the shared competences between the EU and Member States and is therefore subject to the principle of subsidiarity. As a consequence, the EU may only intervene if it is capable of acting more effectively than Member States.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon specifies that the EU may not intervene in Member States’ choices in relation to their energy supply sources, unless it does so unanimously and on environmental grounds (Article 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). In particular, such a restriction covers the underlying issue of nuclear energy. Situations and positions vary enormously from one European country to another on this subject.

Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon makes reference to the “spirit of solidarity” which should prevail between Member States in the implementation of European energy policy. This solidarity will prove to be important, particularly in times of crisis: if one or more Member States face a cut in supply, they could then rely on a supply of energy from the other Member States.