The Lisbon Treaty is finally in force. The European Union charter reforms the institutional machinery for the 27-nation bloc, aiming to make decision-making on common policies fairer and more efficient.
As it was signed two years ago in Lisbon, the treaty takes the city’s name, and that is where the official celebration was held. (Ratification ran into trouble and dragged out. The plan was to have had that finished by the end of last year.) The treaty creates a full-time president of the EU leaders’ Council; Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, who takes up the new job on January 1, attended the launch ceremony. The treaty also creates a foreign policy chief with enhanced powers, effective as of now; Briton Catherine Ashton was not present. Both are little known internationally, and yet these new figures are part of a bid to raise the EU’s world profile, and boost its political clout to match its economic weight. After the anthem ‘Ode to Joy’, officials said the EU would now focus on getting out of the “economic and financial crisis”. Ana Vieira sang fado — ‘triste fado’.