The institutional future of Europe.
It is hardly an absorbing subject. And, what is more, it can be confusing to understand the arguments surrounding the Lisbon Treaty. So what is really being proposed? The aim of the document is to simplify and steamline the workings of the EU, now that it is made up of 27 countries. The document owes its name to the fact that it was signed by EU leaders in the Portuguese capital. It was created to replace the ill-fated EU Constitution which was abandoned after being rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands. Under Lisbon, nations would no longer be EU President for six months at a time. Instead, a politician would preside for up to five years. A High Representative for Foreign Affairs would also boost efforts to make Europe’s voice more audible. The idea is that both would represent the EU on the international stage, giving greater weight to ITS opinions. For Europeans, those representing them would have a clear identity. Then there is a new voting system. A decision would be adopted if it obtains the support of 55 percent of member states, representing 65 percent of the EU’s population. New powers for the European Parliament aim to reinforce the bloc’s only institution that is directly elected by its citizens. The assembly would have even greater joint decision-making powers. The treaty adds several new areas like agriculture, policing and justice. Europe will be better-equipped to fight against crime and terrorism under the Lisbon Treaty, say its supporters. Finally, the document flags up people power. A petition signed by a million citizens can be submitted to the European Commission, formally asking it to draft legislation for the European Parliament to work on. People’s priorities are in the treaty say its backers – energy, climate change, health and employment. But all these arguments are unlikely to impress those for whom the Lisbon Treaty is fundamentally wrong. Detractors say its anything but democratic, aiming to impose federalism and destroy national sovereignty.