Years in the making, the often controversial Lisbon reform treaty comes into force today, aiming to boost the European Union on the world stage by increasing the power of the European Parliament and making EU decisions less unwieldy.
It is called Lisbon because that is where the initial signing ceremony took place two years ago. Supporters say it strengthens the EU’s influence; critics say it is undermined by its struggle to gain the backing of all 27 member states.
Lisbon creates an EU President, Herman van Rompuy, and increases the powers of its foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. However, all sides agree change will be slow. Much depends on how the new leaders define their roles, and the willingness of member states to put Europe’s communal needs ahead of narrow national interests.
Ratification of Lisbon was a tortuous process: its fate hung in the balance until Irish voters backed it at the second time of asking in October. The Czech president abandoned his efforts to block it a month later.
The Lisbon Treaty will be officially launched later today with a special party in its namesake city. And you can follow the celebrations on Euronews this evening with a special programme live from the Portuguese capital.