Treaty of Lisbon comes into force

The Treaty of Lisbon enters into force today – 1 December 2009. The occasion will be marked by a ceremony in the City of Lisbon organised jointly by the Portuguese Government, the Swedish Presidency and the European Commission. The Commission believes that the new treaty provides significant new benefits for citizens and will settle the institutional debate for the foreseeable future. This will allow the European Union to fully concentrate on managing a smooth exit from the economic and financial crisis and pushing ahead with the 2020 strategy for greener growth.

The Treaty of Lisbon amends the current EU and EC treaties, without replacing them. It will provide the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens' demands.

The Treaty of Lisbon will ensure European citizens have their say in European affairs and see their fundamental rights set out in a charter. The EU will be better equipped to meet expectations in the fields of energy, climate change, cross-border crime and immigration. It will also be able to speak with a stronger voice on the international scene.

Catherine Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy are now High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the European Council, and they will start working effectively on January.

Among key improvements are:

  • A more democratic and open and accountable Union – The European Parliament and national parliaments will now have a much greater say in the EU's decision-making process, and citizens will have the right to know what their Ministers are deciding at the EU level. All European citizens will be given the opportunity to influence proposed EU laws.
  • A more effective Union – through effective and streamlined institutions. Including swifter, more consistent decision-making on law and order issues, giving the EU greater ability to combat crime, terrorism and human trafficking.
  • More rights for Europeans – the EU's values and goals will be set down more clearly than ever before. And the charter of fundamental rights will be given the same legal status as the EU treaties themselves.
  • A more prominent global actor – new posts have been created as part of work to bring more coherence between the different strands of its external policy, such as diplomacy, security, trade and humanitarian aid.

These improvements give the Union the capacity to deliver change, to make Europeans more secure and prosperous and to open up their opportunities to shape globalisation.