the European Union's 27 member states meet in
Portugal this week to sign what will now become
known as the Lisbon Treaty.
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Originally called the Reform Treaty, it was
drawn up to replace the draft European
constitution after that was thrown out by voters
in France and the Netherlands in 2005.
All 27 EU countries will be expected to
ratify the Treaty in 2008 with a view to it
coming into force in 2009.
How similar will the new treaty be to the
It contains many of the changes the
constitution attempted to introduce, for
A politician chosen to be president of
the European Council for two-and-a-half
years, replacing the current system where
countries take turns at being president for
A new post combining the jobs of the
existing foreign affairs supremo, Javier
Solana, and the external affairs
commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to
give the EU more clout on the world stage
A smaller European Commission, with
fewer commissioners than there are member
states, from 2014
A redistribution of voting weights
between the member states, phased in between
2014 and 2017
New powers for the European Commission,
European Parliament and European Court of
Justice, for example in the field of justice
and home affairs
Removal of national vetoes in a number
Most European leaders acknowledge that the
main substance of the constitution will be
If it contains the same substance, why is the
Lisbon Treaty not a constitution?
The constitution attempted to replace all
earlier EU treaties and start afresh, whereas
the new treaty amends the Treaty on the European
Union (Maastricht) and the Treaty Establishing
the European Community (Rome).
It also drops all reference to the symbols of
the EU - the flag, the anthem and the motto -
though these will continue to exist.
How long has it taken to agree the treaty?
The effort to draft a constitution began in
February 2002 and took two-and-a-half years, but
that text became obsolete when it was rejected
by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
Work began in earnest on a replacement treaty
during the German EU presidency, in the first
half of 2007, and agreement on the main points
of the new treaty was reached at a summit in
Negotiations continued behind the scenes over
the following months before a final draft was
agreed by the leaders of the 27 member states in
Why was the constitution dropped?
France and the Netherlands said they would be
unable to adopt the constitutional treaty
without significant changes, following the 2005
The UK also pressed hard for a modest
"amending treaty", which could be ratified by
means of a parliamentary vote, like earlier EU
Could the Lisbon Treaty also end up being
Yes. If just one of the EU's 27 member states
fails to ratify the treaty, it cannot come into
This time, most countries plan to ratify the
treaty in parliament, which is less likely to
cause an upset than holding a referendum.
So far only one country, Ireland, has said it
will definitely hold a referendum.
Although Irish voters rejected the Nice
Treaty in 2001, most observers believe a
comfortable majority will back the Reform Treaty
in summer 2008.
Although Denmark had been planning to have a
referendum on the constitution, the Prime
Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that it
would not be necessary to have a vote on the
treaty because a government investigation had
concluded no transfer of sovereignty was
Will the Lisbon Treaty transfer powers
from national governments to the EU?
Although the Danish government would say
there is no transfer of sovereignty, opinions
The EU exists by virtue of the fact that
countries agree to pool sovereignty in certain
The new treaty deepens co-operation in some
areas, and extends it to new areas.
Does the Charter of Fundamental Rights
feature in the new treaty?
No. There will be a reference to it, making
it legally binding, but the full text does not
appear, even in an annex.
The UK has secured a written guarantee that
the charter cannot be used by the European Court
to alter British labour law, or other laws that
deal with social rights. However, experts are
divided on how effective this will be.
Are any countries seeking opt-outs?
Ireland and the UK currently have an opt-out
from European policies concerning asylum, visas
and immigration. Under the new treaty they will
have the right to opt in or out of any policies
in the entire field of justice and home affairs.
Poland is also due to sign up to the
guarantees on the Charter of Fundamental Rights
negotiated by the UK.
Denmark will continue with its existing
opt-out from justice and home affairs, but will
gain the right under the new treaty to opt for
the pick-and-choose system.
The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh
Rasmussen, has announced that a referendum will
be held during the lifetime of the existing
parliament on scrapping his country's opt-outs.
When will the new treaty kick in?
The treaty should come into force in 2009 but
different parts will take effect at different
The High Representative on foreign affairs
could start work by late 2008, as long as the
treaty has been ratified.
The new-look European Parliament would not
appear until after the European elections in
June 2009. In fact, that poll will be seen
partly as an endorsement of the new
The new president of the European Council
could also start work at that point.
Although a new commission will be chosen in
2009, its size may not be slimmed down until
Some extensions of qualified majority voting
(QMV) in the European Council are already in
place, such as the appointment of the commission
president and the High Representative for Common
Foreign and Security Policy - but Poland's
objections over voting weights mean the
redistribution of votes will not come in until
Some of the higher profile aspects of the
treaty could begin to appear by the end of 2008
but it could be 10 years before the process is
HAVE SPOKEN-IS THE EU COMMISSION LISTENING?
Ditch the EU
TREATY after IRISH REJECTION
Mail-Wednesday, June 18,2008]
MORE THAN HALF of voters
believe Britain should drop the
controversial European Treaty in the wake of
its rejection in last week's
The poll comes as the Tories
launch a last-ditch bid in the
today to delay the
OF THE TREATY.
have signed a
within the past few days
, calling on the
NOT TO RATIFY THE BILL
Street website is