Here are some of the main points of the European Union’s new Treaty of Lisbon: It incorporates the key reforms in the constitution but it discards the name.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights becomes legally binding – in all the member states except Britain and Poland, which negotiated exemptions.
There is also a provision that if a million citizens petition the European Commission, it will propose legislation in the field concerned.
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, with 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 foreign 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 – in lieu of greater voting weight – becomes valid at this time.
The redistribution of seats in the European Parliament has been adjusted under a reform agreed in the assembly. 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.
Like the constitution, the treaty aims to streamline the number of members in the EU executive college, or European Commission. It says the number of commissioners will be reduced from 27 to 15 by the year 2014. Its head will be named according to the results of European elections, this needing endorsement by a parliamentary vote.
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 – today assumed by a country. In the future an individual will chair the agenda and summits.
Also left out is the flag commonly associated with the EU, formerly the European Communities, which adopted the banner in the 1980s. The Lisbon Treaty also makes no mention of the anthem symbol, ‘Ode to Joy’.