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Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty replaces the European Constitution. The European Constitution had been rejected by French and Dutch voters in spring 2005. After this rejection the European Commission had called for a period of reflection and ratification of the Constitution in the Member States was stopped. The period of reflection lasted for two years until spring 2007.


After a period of intense negotiations, the heads of state and government in June 2007 agreed on a mandate for the Intergovernemental Conference that was to amend the Constitution. In December 2007 a new treaty for the European Union was signed by the heads of state and governments in Lisbon, therefore called the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty is currently undergoing ratification in the EU Member States. Only in Ireland will there be a referendum, expected for June 2008. In all other Member States ratification happens through the Parliaments.


What will be new with the Lisbon treaty?

  •   The Lisbon Treaty includes an article on participation of civil society organizations and gives citizens the right of initiative. It reads as follows


1. The institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action.


2. The institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.


3. The European Commission shall carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union's actions are coherent and transparent.


4. Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties. (...)

  • The Lisbon Treaty strengthens the powers of the European Parliament. The European Parliament will have more legislative power in more policy areas. On the EU budget the Parliament will have equal right to decide as the Council (= Member State's governments). The Parliament will elect the President of the European Commission.
  •  The Charter of Fundamental Rights becomes legally binding expect for the United Kingdom and Poland. The Charter includes rights such as the freedom of expression and assembly, the protection of personal data, the right to education, the equality of women and men, the right to fair working conditions and many more. 

These are only a few of the changes the Lisbon Treaty would bring if it comes into force. Find the entire Treaty text here.



The EU Civil Society Contact Group's engagement on the Constitution and the Lisbon treaty


Currently the Civil Society Contact Group is working on the new participation article. The Civil Society Contact Group plans to develop a position and also wants to engage the EU institutions in a dialogue on the implementation of this article.


In mid-July 2007 the Civil Society Contact Group sent a letter to the Portuguese presidency reiterating its call. The emphasis of the letter is the rapid publication of the first consolidated version of the new treaty in order to allow civil society organisations to follow and input in the process.


Find the letter to the Portuguese presidency here.

Find a briefing on the IGC here.


At the beginning of June 2007 the Civil Society Contact Group had sent a call for an effective treaty and a transparent and accessible Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) to all 27 EU heads of state and government.


Find the entire text in English, French and Italien here.


Throughout the convention on the Future of Europe and the Intergovernmental Conference that finalised the draft constitution in 2003, members of the Civil Society Contact Group campaigned for a text that reflects concerns of citizens. The Civil Society Contact Group also ran the act4europe campaign. The campaign promoted the Future of Europe debate within national level civil society organisations throughout Europe and allowed input form the national level into the work of the Convention drafting a new treaty for the EU. Read more about it in the act4europe section on this website.