The EESC has actively influenced changes in the EU treaties and helped reform the institutions.
The Lisbon Treaty, signed on 13 December 2007, was the outcome of a reform process which started in 2000 with the ‘Declaration on the Future of the Union’, annexed to the Nice Treaty. This led to the establishment of the European Convention, which began its work in February 2002. The Convention was a new way of preparing treaty reform, because it brought a wider range of participants into an open and transparent debate. Three EESC observers took part.
The 2004 Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) drafted a Constitutional Treaty, but it was not ratified. So in June 2005, the EU launched a ‘period of reflection’ and called for a broad debate among citizens, civil society organisations, national parliaments and political parties in all Member States. A new IGC was convened in July 2007, to draw up Treaty changes to strengthen the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the enlarged Union. The resulting Lisbon Treaty entered into force on 1 December 2009, following its ratification by all – at that time – 27 Member States.
We were disappointed that neither the 2004 nor the 2007 IGCs fulfilled all our expectations of greater democratic participation for Europe’s citizens. Nevertheless, we supported the Lisbon Treaty because it preserves the main achievements of the Constitutional Treaty, which we strongly supported. The Lisbon Treaty was a step forward in developing more democratic institutions in an enlarged Union, and equipping the EU to meet the challenges facing it. We were particularly pleased that the Constitutional Treaty provisions on the democratic life of the EU – on participatory democracy and the role of the social partners, for example – were retained in full.
The Lisbon Treaty opened a new era, with new opportunities for citizens and their representative organisations to take part in EU policy- and decision-making, thus reinforcing the democratic legitimacy of European institutions and their work.
The EESC and the Treaty of Lisbon – questions and answers
How has the Treaty of Lisbon changed the role of the EESC? How do the Treaty’s provisions affect social and civil dialogue, consultations between European social partners and more participation by organised civil society in general in EU affairs? Download the document