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.