Your very own Guide to the Lisbon Treaty

Labour Party

Lisbon Treaty PicWhen speaking at events in London I am regularly asked about the Lisbon Treaty.  There often seems to be one swivel-eyed person there who knows the finer points of Lisbon off by heart.  However, for everyone else, the key issues in Europe have to do with jobs, human rights and, of course, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

However, since the Lisbon Treaty is in the news at present, you may like to see the following summary: 

Citizens’ initiative: If 1 million Europeans present a petition to the European Commission then it would have to look at ways of introducing the proposals. Alternatively it could force the Union’s executive to look at ways of repealing legislation.

Lawmaking: The European Parliament would become an equal in terms of lawmaking with the Council of Ministers, where member state national governments are represented.
Policy: Members of the European Parliament would be on an equal legislative footing with the Council regarding EU agriculture and fisheries policy, trade policy, legal immigration and EU structural funds, to name just a few.
National Parliaments gain an increased role in EU decision making with the treaty giving them eight weeks in which to argue their case if they feel a draft law oversteps European Union authority.
An EU President: European leaders will have to elect a new EU President to chair their 4 summits a year and set out the agenda ahead. This would replace the six monthly rotations and the holder is likely to be the public face of the Union.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: The second new job created under Lisbon. The powerful EU “foreign minister” will chair meetings of Foreign Affairs Ministers, oversee the multi-billion EU aid budget and run the proposed European External Action Service – a European diplomatic corps.
Double majority in Council votes: The treaty changes the voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers. New arrangements mean that instead of voting by unanimity measures can now be carried if they have 55% of the votes in the Council from counties representing 65% of the EU’s population.
Commission President elected by MEPs: Any new President of the European Commission would be elected by the European Parliament.
Charter of Fundamental Rights: The Charter becomes legally binding meaning all laws must adhere to it. The UK and Poland have certain opt outs on this point.
Withdrawal: For the first time countries have the right to withdraw from the European Union.

7 thoughts on “Your very own Guide to the Lisbon Treaty

  1. The summary of the Lisbon Treaty was fairly short and consequently some important points are missing from the account.
    The Lisbon Treaty is, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ‘virtually the same as the EU Constitution’. This a view shared by former French President Valerie Giscard D’Estaigne; he should know he wrote the EU Comstitution. It is of course understandable that a Labour MEP should avoid this inconvenient truth as it is central to the Labour Party’s stance that it will not fulfill its promise of a referendum because the two documents are very different.
    The EU Constitution created the post of President but missed the opportunity to make the post an elected one. This leaves the EU with very poor democratic credentials, an unelected President, 27 unelected commissioners and a ‘puppet’ parliament.

  2. Daniel, almost, sort of, a bit like, whichever way you look at it the Lisbon treaty is not the same as a constitution. No matter how you and many others try to misrepresent that simple fact. By all means oppose the European Union but your claim of an “inconvenient truth” is a falsehood.

  3. Mary, Thank you for your swift response. Great to see a politician earning their keep by responding to a constituent. The novelty of it is quite giddying. Could I burden you with a few questions, please?
    1. Do you disagree with Angela Merkel about the similarity of the EU Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty? (A yes or a no would be good).
    2. Do you disagree with Valery Giscard D’Estaigne about the similarity of the EU Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty? (Again, a yes or no would be good – you have already ‘bucked’ the current trend by bothering yourself with those pesky contituents, now throw all caution to the wind and give a straight answer, get in touch with your inner radical).
    3. Can you give me a good reason why Gordon Brown could not offer us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?
    4. Slightly off the topic but do you think that Conservative MEP for the North West, The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins is entitled to use his EU funded web site to promote the political career of his wife, Councillor Lady Dulcie Mary Atkins who is a councillor for Wyre Borough Council?

  4. Daniel we both share many chromosones, so we are similar but we are different. This seems to be a difficult concept for you to grasp.

    Have you ever considered your lack of courtesy means that you do not get responses you hope for, your initial post gently accued me of misrepresentation? Point 2 is similarly ungallantly phrased, something I find outside the British character and disappointing to receive.

    On point 2 the current trend exists in your imagination only as several thousand Londoners experience from myself each year. I know that the vast majority of London representatives respond as I often have casework that corresponds with them. There are approaching 1,000 comments on this blog in the last year and I have read them all and answered I think almost all of them where appropriate. Weekends too, but no doubt you’ll be propagating the lazy representaives line next.

    I think it is highly unlikely I’ll respond a third time and you then may claim that you have not been heard.

    On 3 the government can hold a referendum on any matter as I am sure you know. My experience from having knocked on thousands of doorsteps is that this is not something the vast majority of people raise with me, so why should the government hold a referendum spending considerable money on a subject most people do not want? I support a written constitution which would help here!

    You acknowledge that the Lisbon treaty is different to a Constitution so that there is no manifesto commitment to be implemented. Having some things in common is not good enough. I have some things in common with Nick griffin now, so help me!

    On 4 I will have a look, thank you for the information.

  5. Mary, The comments about my surprise at a politician bothering to respond to a mere constituent were not meant in a spirit of discourtesy, they were more of a pleasantry or a compliment. You are aware, of course, of the low regard in which politicians are held these days. I said that it was good of you to have responded and so swiftly and I meant it.
    I do still maintain that I have a right to ask you tough questions on a publicly funded web site though I do acknowledge that the web site is exceptional in that offers so much more ‘interactivity’ than the pitiful offerings of other MEPs. I suggested previously that you have a look at the web site of Sir Robert Atkins MEP regarding its use to promote his wife. You will see that the closest he comes to any engagement with his constituents is a section called ‘Read what Sir Robert’s constituents say about him’. It has four dreary pages of highly selective and undated comments of pure Tory sycophancy, on page one some unnamed person said ‘Bravo Robert’ and on page four someone else or possibly the same person has said ‘Robert Bravo’. I think you will find comparing it with your own web site a satisfying experience.
    Yes, holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be expensive but the cost could be reduced by holding it at the same time as the local, general or European ones and it would serve to silence horrid cynics like me who say that we are not being asked because most of us would say no.

    1. Daniel Oxley, Thank you for your kind comments about my website and my attempts to be responsive to constituents. It’s always heartening to come across someone who thinks a politician does a good job, especially in these troubled times. However, I can’t agree with you about what you see as a need for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The Treaty has now been ratified by 26 of the 27 EU member states and the last one, the Czech Republic, looks very likely to sign in the near future. Even David Cameron agrees that the matter will be closed once President Klaus has accepted the Lisbon Treaty. As far as the princilpe of holding a referendum is concerned, I am not generally in favour of referendums as they undermine the concept of representative democracy.

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