Winners and Losers of Lisbon and Further Possibilities of European Integration

Essay, 2011

13 Pages, Grade: 73% (1st class)


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Institutional Changes under the Lisbon Treaty
2.1. The European Parliament
2.2. European Council - Europe’s most exclusive club
2.3. The Commission

3. European Integration post-Lisbon?
3.1. Possibilities without changing the Treaties
3.2. Another revision of the Treaties?

4. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on the 1st December of 2009, is a major revision of the former treaties concerning the European Union[1]. It changed a lot of the structures of the Union to which many citizens have grown used to. For example, the “pillar-structure” of the EU, which was implemented by the Maastricht Treaty, is gone .[2]

It is a big step towards a more (political) integrated and an “ever closer Union”[3].

In the first part of this essay I will discuss the changes the Lisbon Treaty introduced to the political institutions. The second part will show how integration might look like post-Lisbon and whether there will be further integration in form of further revisions of the treaty.

2. Institutional Changes under the Lisbon Treaty

The Treaty of Lisbon introduced some considerable changes to the institutional system in the European Union. The most important ones of which are the European Parliament, which gained more responsibilities in the legislative process[4], the European Council, which now is an official institution and its president, who could become ‘the face’ of the Union[5] and the Commission, which lost some of its power[6].

2.1. The European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) is the only institution within the EU which is directly elected[7]. Therefore, it argues that it has the most democratic legitimacy, though, as the German federal constitutional court laid out, elections do not “take due account of equality” compared to the requirements which are in place for democracy in states[8]. A German MEP represents 860.000 citizens compared to a MEP from Malta, which represents 66.000 citizens [9]. Those facts do not support a strong democratic legitimacy. However, after the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, the EP gained some significance compared with the powers it had before. For one, the EP’s power concerning the Union’s Budget was increased. The distinction between compulsory and non-compulsory expenditure, which was in place before Lisbon, was dismissed. Therefore, the EP has now the right to amend all expenditures[10]. Secondly, the legislative role of the EP increased, as the Treaty of Lisbon changed the number of policy areas were codecision (between EP and Council, now called ‘ordinary legislative procedure’) is necessary from 43 under the Treaty of Nice to 80[11]. Also the EP has now some veto-rights in certain areas [12]. The president of the Commission is now to be elected by the EP on proposal of the European Council. This proposal has to take the outcome of the last election for the EP into account [13]. Conclusively, the EP plays now a much more important role then it did pre-Lisbon. It now participates in nearly every policy area[14]. European legislature is dependent on the approval of the EP in many areas. One is justified in saying, that the European Parliament is one of the big winners under the Treaty of Lisbon. However, from the EP’s point of view the extension of its powers did not go far enough - again with the argument that the EP is the body with the most democracy legitimacy - as it sill has to share legislative competence with the Commission and the Council[15], but as long as the allocation of seats remains unchanged with the principle of digressive proportionality[16], the EP will not heal the democratic deficit. More power will not change that.

2.2. European Council - Europe’s most exclusive club

As already mentioned above, [17] the most significant changes for the European Council under the Lisbon Treaty is its formal recognition as an institution of the Union and the president, which is elected for two and a half years, renewable once [18]. The former alone would be enough to call the European Council a winner under the Lisbon Treaty, as now its status as the “politically ... most important body in the EU”[19] is official. The presidency, which replaces the rotating presidency of the Member States for the European Council (still in place for the Council of Minsters), was introduced, because the rotating presidency was considered for being not effective enough [20]. The president of the European Council officially does not play an immensely important role. The tasks are, among other, chairing the summit of the Council, reporting to the EP about those meetings and represent the Union (at least to some extent) [21]. However, as we shall see later, the office has some potential. Due to this enhancement of the European Council, it is to be counted as a winner under the Treaty of Lisbon.

Additionally to those changes, the Treaty of Lisbon introduced the Quality Majority Vote (QMV) for both the Council and the EP. This means, in order to pass legislative the vote for it must come from 55 % of the Member States, representing 65% of the Unions citizens.[22]

2.3. The Commission

The Commission lost some of its powers as the EP and the European Council gained some. It still has significant powers in the area of delegated legislation (the Council can delegate quasi-legislative power to the Commission)[23], though in that field, the EP and the Council are now able to revoke the delegation and a delegated act only enters into force if there is not any objection expressed by the EP or the Council within a certain period of time [24]. This has a huge impact on the powers of the Commission: The EP and the Council can block any delegated legislation[25]. Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon introduced an increased judicial review towards institutions of the Union, and therefore towards the Commission. Now a non-privileged applicant (private party) can ‘institute proceedings against (acts) addressed to that person or which is of direct and individual concern to them ’ [26]. This is wider then the former formulation ‘decisions’[27]. Though the ECJ already focused on the test of direct and individual concern and not on the form of the act itself, the amendment of the treaty is a clarification to the pre-Lisbon situation. The second amendment concerning judicial review is the distinction between regulatory and other acts. For the regulatory act, one has only to prove the direct concern, not the


[1] Dinan, D.: (2010) “Institutions and Governance: A new Treaty, a Newly Elected Parliament and a New

Commission” JCMS 2010 (48) Annual Review, p. 115.

[2] King, B. R.: (2010) “After Lisbon: A More Political European Union” Mapping Politics, Volume 2,

Fall 2010, p. 43.

[3] King, ibid. p. 40. See also: Smith, N.: (2010) “Europe after Lisbon: Who will run the EU once the dust

has settled? ” p. 139 in Social and Political Review - Trinity College Dublin (Accessible online:, last access: 5th Feb 2011.

[4] Church, C.; Phinnemore, D.: “From the Constitutional Treaty to the Treaty of Lisbon” p.58 in Cini, M.; Borragán, N. P.: (2010) “European Union Politics” 3rd Edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press. See also: Dinan, op.cit. p. 101.

[5] Church, C.; Phinnemore, D.: ibid. p 58. See also: Smith: supra note 3 at p. 138.

[6] Smith, op. cit., p. 138.

[7] Chryssochoou, D. N.: “Europe ’s Contested Democracy” p. 380 in Cini, M.; Borragán, N. P.: (2010)

“European Union Politics ” 3rd Edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

[8] Cited in: Dinan: op. cit., p. 101. Origin: BVergGE 123, 267 (Decisions of the federal constitutional court: Volume 123, p 267.

[9] Dinan, D. : (2010) “Ever Closer Union - An Introduction to European Integration ” 4th Edition,

Palgrave Macmillan, p. 239.

[10] Dinan, supra note 1 at p. 254.

[11] Dinan, supra note 1 at p. 255.

[12] For example: see Art TFEU.

[13] Syrpris, P.: (2008) “The Treaty of Lisbon: Much Ado ... But About What?“ Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 37, No. 3, p. 224.

[14] Dinan, supra note 1, p. 255.

[15] Dinan, supra note 1 at p 263.

[16] Dinan, “Institutions and Governance: A new Treaty, a Newly Elected Parliament and a New Commission” op. cit., p 102.

[17] Dinan, Ever Closer Union - An Introduction to European Integration, op.cit., p. 206., due to the fact, that it consists of the Heads of State/government of the Member States.

[18] Smith, op. cit., p 138.

[19] Dinan, above, p. 206.

[20] Closa, C.: (2010) “Institutional Innovation in the EU: The Presidency of the European Council” p. 2 (ARI), Real Instituto Elcano (Accessible online: 2010_Closa_Institutional_Innovation_EU_Presidency_European_Council.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CAC HEID=837cc08041c2d129a306b3a33d11d698, last access: 5th Feb 2011.

[21] See Art 15 TEU for a list of his tasks.

[22] King, ibid, p. 44.

[23] Chalmers, D.; Davies, G.; Monti, G.: (2010) “European Union Law - Cases and Materials” 2nd Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 59.

[24] Art 290 (2) TFEU

[25] Chalmers: op. cit., p. 121.

[26] Art 263 (4).

[27] Ex-Art 230 TEC

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Winners and Losers of Lisbon and Further Possibilities of European Integration
University of Sussex
Law and Policy of the European Union
73% (1st class)
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ISBN (Book)
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winners, losers, lisbon, further, possibilities, european, integration
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Katja Breucker (Author), 2011, Winners and Losers of Lisbon and Further Possibilities of European Integration, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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