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Europe: The Lisbon Treaty Essay

2167 words - 9 pages

The Lisbon treaty followed the disastrous Constitutional Treaty of 2004 that was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands. After a period of reflection, negotiations began for another treaty (Laursen, 2013:9). These negotiations continued for months, after which it was left to the Portuguese presidency to complete the Treaty, and thus the Treaty became known as the Lisbon Treaty. It was signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007, but only entered into force on 1 December 2009 following ratification problems, particularly in Ireland (Cini and Borragen, 2013:51). Attitudes towards the Lisbon Treaty differ widely (Laursen, 2013: 9). For some, the Treaty simply sets out incremental reforms designed to make the EU more accountable and efficient (Berman, 2012:3). This is demonstrated largely through institutional changes, particularly to the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Council, but also through the Citizens’ Initiative. However, others have attacked it as merely reinforcing the control of the elites over member states and conversely restricting transparency and encouraging secrecy. Furthermore, some believe that such changes have hardly wholly transformed the EU and that the new Union has remained remarkably similar to its predecessor (Cini and Borragan, 2013:51). They argue that the EU is “too distant” from citizens to ever be considered efficient. Once both sides of the argument have been considered, it can be seen that the Lisbon treaty has improved efficiency to a reasonable standard, however the level of transparency in the EU appears to have reduced.
Through the Lisbon Treaty, the efficiency of the European Parliament has improved. Craig (2010:36) goes as far as to say that the European Parliament “emerged as a winner in the Lisbon Treaty”. Firstly, the Parliament gained the right to ‘elect’ the President of the Commission and to approve the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, creating a more efficient and democratic Union (Mayoral, 2011: 3). With regards to the President of the Commission, Article 17.7 of the TEU states that the European Council must nominate a candidate, who is then “elected by the European Parliament” (Mayoral, 2011:3). Although certainly not groundbreaking, this amendment symbolises the perpetual desire of the European Union to continue its pursuit of a more democratic and efficient equilibrium (Jaquet, 2012). This amendment advocates closer cooperation between the main institutions, and thus the Union has become more efficient as a result. The second amendment pertaining to the European parliament involves the working of the institution itself. The European Parliament increased its membership from 732 to 750 members following the Treaty of Lisbon (Jaquet, 2012). The increased size of the Parliament is due to the adoption of “digressive proportionality”. This plays to the advantage of the member states with smaller populations, which shows the...

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