The EU after Lisbon

The Consequences of the Czech Ratification


Seminar Paper, 2010

17 Pages, Grade: 1,7

Anonymous


Excerpt

Content

1 Introduction

2 What does the Lisbon Treaty change?
2.1 The European Council
2.2 The European Parliament
2.3 The Council of the European Union
2.4 The European Commission

3 The Ratification Process

4 The Ratification Process in the Czech Republic
4.1 The role of the Constitutional Court
4.2 The “Klaus’ opt-out”

5 Conclusion

6 References

1 Introduction

After the eastern enlargement of the European Union in May 2004 it became clear that the Union can not continue to function under the existing treaties and had to be reformed. The Treaty of Nice that came to force in February 2003 was supposed to reorganize the institutional structure of the EU but the reform was not sufficient. When the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TeCE) was signed in October 2004 it was not very well accepted by some of the Member States and became a subject of criticism mainly for its constitutional character. Objections were raised that this Treaty would transform the EU into some kind of a “superstate”, which originated a discussion among the political discourse about the sovereignty of the Member States; the Treaty was then rejected in Netherlands and France. At the end of December 2007, after many months of comprehensive bargaining and discussions the Lisbon Treaty (the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), was signed in Portugal during the German presidency. This document is basically modified version of TeCE where the criticized points were either removed or adjusted to its objections. The Treaty came into force in 1 December 2009 following the ratification process in all the 27 Member States. This paper aims to provide a clear account on the changes that comes along with the Lisbon Treaty being in force. Even though the modifications do not have so far-reaching consequences as was previously planned within its unsuccessful predecessor, the European Constitution, the impacts are still substantive and deserve our attention and comprehensible demonstration. Hence the first part of the paper is dedicated to the account of the modifications brought in by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, mainly on how are these changes going to modify the institutional settings and some policies. A short report is given on the process of ratification of the Treaty in the EU Member States to summarize the historical implications accompanying the long journey of the Treaty before entering into force finally in December 2009, two years after its signature. The last part of the paper is devoted to the ratification process in the Czech Republic. The position of the Czech President and the extensive process of ratification in this small country in the heard of Europe filled the headlines of worldwide media over the last few months therefore the analysis of this particular ratification is in my opinion valuable.

2 What does the Lisbon Treaty change?

The Treaty of Lisbon is in force for almost three months now and there are a number of changes that comes along hence this part of the paper is dedicated to depict and analyze these modifications. We have to note that the Lisbon Treaty (LT) is only amending the existing EU treaties (The Maastricht Treaty and The Treaties of Rome) without replacing them, as was planed on in its unsuccessful predecessor, the European Constitution. Due to the complex bargaining within the Member States during the ratification process the changes brought by the LT are not that fundamental; they include reforms of the decision-making processes, policies and the set-up of institutions.

The main purpose of the EU’s reform was to modernize and adjust its institutions to the new enlarged complex of 27 Member States and to make the European Union more democratic and efficient. Therefore most of the changes comprise the reform of the institutions. Even thought the treaty abolishes the separation of policy areas into three pillars (Maastricht Treaty) the system is still based on the three fundamental EU institutions: the European Parliament (EUP), the Council of Ministers (Council) and the European Commission[1].

2.1 The European Council

The institution responsible for driving the EU policy-making does not gain any new powers with the Lisbon Treaty but becomes a full EU institution headed by a newly created position of a president[2]. He/she is elected for 2½ years by the European Council and the main job of the president is to prepare the contents of the European Council and ensure the continuity of its work, which was previously done by the head of the state that holds the presidency. This new permanent post of a president is going to bring a certain level of unity and continuity into the bargaining of 27 Member States, which will clarify decision-making at the European level. How this will work in practice will appear in the upcoming months.[3]

2.2 The European Parliament

The institution that gains the most from the Lisbon Treaty is the European Parliament (EUP). The Parliament’s influence on EU decision-making increases considerably, which creates a balance between the Council and the EUP. By extending the co-decision procedure (renamed to “ordinary legislative procedure”) to over 40 new fields the EUP, together with the Council, decides on the vast majority of the legislation including agriculture, energy policy, immigration and EU funds. In the matter of the EU budget the EUP has the last say and its final assent is also required for all international agreements.

As the only directly elected European institution the EUP is the actual representation of the people within the EU and therefore the increase in its power is perceived as a step to diminish the democratic deficit, that is often credited to the EU, and as a greater participation of citizens in EU politics, which is also indicated by the Citizen’s Initiative that gives one million citizens from number of Member States the right to put forth proposals to the Commission to bring forward new proposals and thus involving the citizens more in the EU politics. The number of the members of the European Parliament (MEP) is going to increase from 736 to 751 in 2014[4].

Apart from the moderation in the policy changes the EUP also gains more political control as the Parliament is responsible for the election of the Commission president on the proposal of the Council, which gives more power to the votes of the EU citizens to influence the selection of this post. Taking into consideration the criticism of the EUP for its lasting lack of authority and the fact that the participation in the European elections is still very much lacking behind the national elections[5], question arises on how much is this influence relevant and to which extent can the EU citizens really influence the post of the Commission’s president.

A greater role is given to the national governments as well. The main innovation inheres in their rights to raise objections against draft EU legislation (so-called orange card) to enforce the principle of subsidiarity.

2.3 The Council of the European Union

The role of the Council remains largely unchanged. The only innovation is in the decision-making process: default voting method for the Council is from now on qualified majority voting (QMV) apart from the cases where unanimity is required by the treaties. This means that the process of decision-making will be faster and without redundant protraction. On the other hand the Member States loose their right to veto in many EU policies, e.g. immigration and culture, which became a subject of criticism in many countries, including the Czech Republic.

A double majority voting, a new voting method is going to be introduced in 2014. This means that proposed EU law will have to acquire not only majority of the EU’s Member States (55%) but also the majority of the EU’s population (65%).

2.4 The European Commission

Under the Lisbon Treaty the principle of “one Member State – one Commissioner” remains to be kept until 2014. As noted therein before the role of the president of the Commission is linked with the results of the European elections and the post of the president is stronger then before since he/she posses the right to dismiss a fellow Commissioners.

A major institutional innovation is introduced by the position of EU High Representative (HR) for foreign and security policy, which is at the same time a Commission vice-president[6]. The title “European Minister of Foreign Affairs”, though used by some press media, was relinquished due to its conflicting character. This person represents the Council on common foreign and security policy matters and is a Commissioner for external relations at once. Assistance is provided by a new European External Action Service (EEAS), which comprises of officials from the Council, European Commission and national diplomatic services.

This newly established “two-headed” post, together with the president of the European Council, is the major innovation in the institutional reform of the EU and is suppose to ensure a single clear voice of the European Union in its external relations. The singularity is amended by the EU single legal personality, which makes the European Union stronger and more unite in its dealings with external partners such as non-EU states or international organizations. At the same time it is one of the most criticized points of the new Union. The choice of Catherine Ashton in comparison with her predecessor, Javier Solana, has invoked indignation and concerns about her skills.

[...]


[1] In total there are seven EU institutions: the European Parliament, European Council, Council of the EU, European Commission, European Court of Justice, European Central Bank and European Court of Auditors.

[2] As from 1 December 2009 Mr. Herman Van Rompuy is the President of the European Council. http://www.european-council.europa.eu/the-president.aspx generated 16 February 2010

[3] European Parliament & the Lisbon Treaty http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?language=EN&refreshCache=yes&pageRank=1&id=66 generated 16 February 2010

[4] On 25 October 2010 MEPs adopted changes to the EUP’s internal rules and 18 new MEPs from 12 Member States took their seats after the protocol confirming the addition was ratified by all Member States in order to prepare for the increased powers it is acquiring under the LT.

[5] The parliamentary elections participation in 2009 was 43 percent, compared to the participation in the last national elections, which was 72 percent! Source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/eurobarometre/28_07/FR_EN.pdf

[6] Currently represented by Catherine Ashton, the former Commissioner for Trade http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/ashton/index_en.htm generated 16 February 2010

Excerpt out of 17 pages

Details

Title
The EU after Lisbon
Subtitle
The Consequences of the Czech Ratification
College
University of Flensburg
Grade
1,7
Year
2010
Pages
17
Catalog Number
V154588
ISBN (eBook)
9783640673001
ISBN (Book)
9783640672868
File size
529 KB
Language
English
Tags
Lisbon, Consequences, Czech, Ratification
Quote paper
Anonymous, 2010, The EU after Lisbon, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/154588

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