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The Lisbon Treaty PDF Print E-mail


The Lisbon Treaty was signed by the heads of state and government of the 27 EU Member States on 13 December 2007. It is intended to reform the functioning of the European Union following the two waves of enlargement which have taken place since 2004 and which have increased the number of EU Member States from 15 to 27.

The Lisbon Treaty was drafted as a replacement for the Constitutional Treaty which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The Lisbon Treaty includes key changes aimed at increasing the consistency and coherence of the EU's external actions. It provides for a so-called "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy" who will be responsible in the Council for the EU's common foreign and defence policies. The High Representative will chair the EU's External Relations Council and (s)he will also be a vice-president of the European Commission. The High Representative will be responsible for coordinating the Commission's external actions in order to ensure consistency and coherence between all of EU external actions, whether they under the competence of the Council or the Commission.

The High Representative will be supported by a European External Action Service. The detailed role, function and composition of this service is still under discussion. It will be made up of officials from both the Council and the Commission as well as civil servants from the EU Member States.

In addition to the abovementioned institutional changes, the Lisbon Treaty also provides for a number of changes to the EU's external policies. It both strengthens and clarifies the EU's development cooperation policy and, for the first time, sets out humanitarian assistance as a specific Commission competence.

Other significant changes set out in the Lisbon Treaty include:

  • reforming the system of the European Council presidencies from its current six-month rotation to appointing a full-time European Council President for a period of two-and-a-half years;
  • reducing the number of Commissioners (applicable from 2014); however, do to concessions made to Ireland after its failure to ratify the Treaty, this provision has been dropped.
  • changing the weighting of votes by Member States (applicable from 2014); and
  • extending the scope of qualified majority voting to new areas.

The Lisbon Treaty is now ratified in all 27 EU Member States and entered into force on 1 December 2009.


Structure of the Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty is divided into two parts: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Treaty on European Union sets out the general provisions governing the European Union. It also sets out the overall provisions of the EU's external relations.

Notable articles include:

Click here for a visual guide to the Treaty on European Union.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union sets out the specific objectives of the EU's various policies. The specific rules governing the EU's external actions, including development cooperation, are set out in Part Five of this treaty.

Title III of Part Five of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union covers cooperation with third countries and humanitarian aid. Chapter 1 of Title III includes the articles on the EU's development cooperation policy. Humanitarian assistance is covered in Chapter 3.

Click here for a visual guide to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


How to navigate through the Lisbon Treaty website

It is possible to view each of the 358 articles of the Lisbon Treaty by following the drop down menus which can be accessed by holding the cursor over The Lisbon Treaty in the Main Menu on the left hand side of this webpage.

For example, to read the articles on the EU's development cooperation policy, simply hold the cursor over The Lisbon Treaty then Treaty on the functioning of the European Union & comments then Part Five - External action by the Union then Title III - Cooperation with third countries and humanitarian aid then Chapter 1 - Development cooperation.