Institutional Reform

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

News, Events & Activities on Institutional Reform

Opinions & Resolutions on Institutional Reform


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  • 25 stories told by 25 active citizens

    • 11 Feb 2013
      A commitment to make life better

      “In Germany we have lots of experience of the breakdown of the German Democratic Republic, and all the trouble that it brought. I tried to apply that experience to the process of enlargement, together with colleagues from the newer Member States.”
      He argues that promoting European unity and solidarity is particularly relevant to German citizens. “Germany caused a lot of problems and suffering in the rest of Europe during World War II,” he explains. “That is not forgotten. We still have an open commitment to fulfil.”

  • Blog

    • 15 Nov 2013
      Energy in citizens hands - Considerations after a week in Warsaw

      After this week at the COP19 I go home with some optimism because there still remains the possibility that politicians are less important than they may believe. Perhaps something different is evolving on a parallel track, something which later actually could change the world for the better.

  • Blog - EESC go to Durban

    • 9 Dec 2011
      Good-bye Durban (being optimistic)
      Head of the EESC delegation, hard at work

      The Durban-negotiations may end up with concrete measures to fight climate change, or maybe Roadmaps for individual countries, or with improvements of the Climate Fund - or with just diplomatic talk and no concrete results. The final results will only be known when we are on the plane, going back.

  • Blogging from Doha

    • 10 Dec 2012
      Thoughts after Doha 2012

      In this post, Ms Slavova gives us two perspectives of the outcome of the Climate Change Conference: the disappointment of environmental advocates, but also the significant steps achieved in Doha.

  • On the road to Paris - EESC blog from Lima

    • 11 Dec 2014
      Leadership in climate protection technologies: Europe must not rest on its laurels

      <p>Whether there is no doubt about the fact that Europe strongly supports climate protection. Here in Lima It is very clear that the global race for innovative future markets has started. And with all respect for its achievements so far, Europe must not rest on its laurels.</p>
      <p>All over the world, so-called &ldquo;risk capital&rdquo; is being mobilised to develop innovative, climate-friendly products and processes. However, particularly in Europe, many are obstructing the absolutely necessary rapid and decisive structural change. Politicians still yield to lobbying pressures from industries which clearly have no future in their present form.</p>

  • Staffan Nilsson's Comment (former EESC President 2010-2013)

    • 12 Apr 2013
      Citizens' initiative- have you signed up to it?

      For the past year Europeans have been able to exercise a new EU right: the right to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate, on condition that the initiative is backed by at least one million citizens from seven EU Member States. The challenges and the struggles which initiators face (the online signature collection system, data protection, language barriers and different national verification requirements) are symptomatic of the state of European integration. Some may disagree, but I think more integration makes for a more democratic EU. The further the EU moves towards integration, the easier it will be to get such transnational initiatives off the ground. The European citizens' initiative (ECI) is an ideal adjunct to – and indeed a consolidation of – the EU's system of representative governance. So have you signed up to any yet? Take a look at the list of all citizens' initiatives registered here.

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