EU - Treaty of Lisbon Comes Into Force
The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on the 1st December and was marked by a ceremony in the City of Lisbon organised jointly by the Portuguese Government, the Swedish Presidency and the European Commission.
"The Treaty of Lisbon puts citizens at the centre of the European project. I'm delighted that we now have the right institutions to act and a period of stability, so that we can focus all our energy on delivering what matters to our citizens," President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said.
The Treaty of Lisbon amends the current EU and EC treaties, without replacing them. It will provide the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens' demands.
Among key improvements are:
· a more democratic and open and accountable Union – The European Parliament and national parliaments will now have a much greater say in the EU's decision-making process, and citizens will have the right to know what their Ministers are deciding at the EU level. All European citizens will be given the opportunity to influence proposed EU laws.
· a more effective Union – through effective and streamlined institutions. Including swifter, more consistent decision-making on law and order issues, giving the EU greater ability to combat crime, terrorism and human trafficking.
· more rights for Europeans – the EU's values and goals will be set down more clearly than ever before. And the charter of fundamental rights will be given the same legal status as the EU treaties themselves.
· a more prominent global actor – new posts have been created as part of work to bring more coherence between the different strands of its external policy, such as diplomacy, security, trade and humanitarian aid.
10 examples of benefits for European citizens
· A right for citizens to make a request to the Commission for it to propose a new initiative ("European citizens initiative")
· Better protection for citizens through the new status given to the Charter of fundamental rights
· Diplomatic and consular protection for all EU citizens when travelling and living abroad
· Mutual assistance against natural or man-made catastrophes inside the Union, such as flooding and forest fires
· New possibilities to deal with cross border effects of energy policy, civil protection and combating serious cross border threats to health
· Common action on dealing with criminal gangs who smuggle people across frontiers
· Common rules to avoid asylum shopping where multiple applications are made to different member countries
· Tackling terrorism through the freezing of assets
· More democratic approach to EU decision-making (strengthened role of European Parliament and national Parliaments)
· An ability to provide urgent financial aid to third countries
A copy of the Treaty of Lisbon can be found at: http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty