Institutional Reform

Theme_Institutiona reform

The Lisbon Treaty signed on 13 December 2007 is the result of a process for reform of the European institutions which started in 2000 with the "Declaration on the Future of the Union", annexed to the Nice Treaty. This process continued with the establishment of the European Convention, which began its work in February 2002. The Convention was an innovative method to prepare for treaty reform, and provided for an open and transparent debate, involving stakeholders in a completely new way. The EESC actively participated in the work of the Convention through its three observers.

In June 2005, following the failure of the ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty, a period of reflection was opened in order to enable a broad debate to take place in all Member States, involving citizens, civil society organisations, national parliaments and political parties. A new Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) was convened in July 2007. Its mandate was to draw up a Treaty amending the existing Treaties with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the enlarged Union, as well as the coherence of its external action, introducing into the existing Treaties the innovations resulting from the 2004 IGC, which followed the European Convention and led up to the Constitutional Treaty. This resulted in the signature of the Lisbon Treaty which entered into force on 1st December 2009, following its ratification by all 27 Member States.

The EESC had considered it regrettable that the 2007 IGC, like the 2004 IGC, did not fulfil the expectations of a greater involvement of Europe's citizens and democratic participation. The EESC however has endorsed the content of the Lisbon Treaty as it preserves the main achievements of the Constitutional Treaty, which it had strongly supported. The Lisbon Treaty is a step forward in ensuring more effective and more democratic institutions in an enlarged Union, and equipping the EU with the wherewithal to meet the challenges facing it. The EESC was particularly pleased that the provisions of the Constitutional Treaty on the democratic life of the European Union, including those relating to participatory democracy and the role of the social partners, had been retained in full.

Thus, the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty opened a new era for the participation of citizens and their representative organisations in policy-shaping and decision-making processes of the European Union with a view to reinforcing the democratic legitimacy of European institutions and their work and activities.

The EESC and the Treaty of Lisbon – questions and answers

How has the role of the EESC changed following the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon? 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.


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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.

  • Interviews

  • 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.

  • The President's blog

    • 24 Jun 2014
      Meeting with Civil Society in Malta

      <p>Europe recently encountered a turning point for illegal immigration. With a spectacular surge in the number of immigrants coming by the Mediterranean (+228% between 2012 and 2013) marked by human tragedies that have shocked the peoples of Europe, we can no longer turn our heads away from this ...</p>


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