Here are some of the main points of the treaty: It incorporates the key reforms in the constitution but it discards the name and the symbols.
The text makes no mention of the flag commonly associated with the EU, formerly the European Communities, which adopted the flag in the 1980s. The anthem symbol, ‘Ode to Joy’, is also left unmentioned.
Moving on from the symbolic, the Charter of Fundamental Rights becomes legally binding – in all the member states except Britain, which negotiated an exemption.
A new foreign policy chief with EU staff will give the bloc a greater say on the world stage. The High Representative will answer to EU governments and be a vice-president of the European Commission. He will have power over the EU external aid budget. A NATO-style mutual defence clause in case one of the member states is attacked is another of the evolving foreign and security policy features.
Voting at the member state level will be based on a “double majority” system, from 2017. A decision, to pass, will need 55 percent of the countries’ support. At the moment this means 15 of them. These have to represent 65 percent of the EU’s population. The Ioannina decisional delay provision especially important for Poland becomes valid at this time.
The redistribution of seats in the European Parliament has been adjusted under a proposal by the assembly’s three biggest groups. Italy is given 73 seats, like Britain, but one fewer than France.
This reshuffle for an enlarged EU reflects population changes. The treaty raises the total number of seats to 750 but it does not count the parliament’s president.
The EU leaders will choose a president of the European Council for a 2-1/2 year renewable term.
This does away with the current six-month rotating presidency.
If there are no hiccups with the treaty ratification, either by referendums or the parliamentary route, the new rulebook will enter into force in 2009. Ireland, by its own rules, is the only country that must have a referendum.