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The Treaty of Lisbon

The following is a guide to documents and information relating to the Treaty of Lisbon which are available either online or in the British Library.

About the Treaty of Lisbon

The Treaty of Lisbon (signed 13 December 2007) entered into force on the 1 December 2009. Also known as the Reform Treaty, it amends the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht 1992) and the Treaty Establishing the European Community (Rome 1957). The Treaty of Rome has been renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Treaty texts and commentaries signposted below show how the amendments take shape and include consolidated versions of Rome and Maastricht treaties. Amendments include changes to the institutional structure and to the way legislation is negotiated, enhancement of the rights of individuals and organisations, and the attribution of legal personality on the Union.

Evolving from the failed constitutional treaty the Lisbon Treaty proposed greater coherence, efficiency and democratic legitimacy in an enlarged European Union. Following protracted ratification, the Reform Treaty continues to face challenges however.

Following the treaty of Nice a Convention on the Future of Europe (aka European Convention) was established to draw up a draft constitutional treaty for Europe between March 2002 and July 2003. The Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was the subject of an intergovernmental conference intended to revise the structure and decision making process to support the enlargement of the Union.

Although the treaty was adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the Brussels European Council on 17 and 18 June 2004 and signed in Rome on 29 October 2004, it was never ratified. Reflection on the reform process, prompted the establishment of a new Inter Governmental Conference in 2007.

The resulting 'Reform Treaty' was drawn up under the Portuguese presidency, and signed at Lisbon. While the constitutional treaty (see below) was rejected by referenda, the initial rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by referendum of the Republic of Ireland in June 2008 was reversed in October 2009 by a 67 % vote in favour of ratification.

Unanimous ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon followed as instruments of ratification were deposited by the final member states with the Italian government. While the treaty entered force several months before David Cameron took office at Downing street, the new UK government has proposed, through the Queen’s Speech of 25 May 2010, legislation to ensure that 'British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union'.

As Belgium, following surprise elections and a July 1st start to their term of Council presidency, prepare to prioritise the implementation of treaty, eighteen new MEPs await ratification of a 23 June amendment to Lisbon before being able to take their seats.

Publications and online resources

Links to the treaty texts and commentary, and guidance on relevant British Library collections can be found below. For help with accessing British Library collection items and electronic resources please see Social Sciences reading room.

The Treaty of Lisbon

Consolidated versions of Treaty on European Union and Treaty on the functioning of the European Union as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon

Treaty of Lisbon: research papers, news and analysis

Extensive further analysis of the treaty and its impact can be found by using electronic resources which are available freely in the British Library reading rooms.

  • EUROPOLITICS special issue (No3407, 7 November 2007) explaining changes brought about by Lisbon. British Library shelf mark: 3830.427630 DSC.
  • House of Commons Library Research Papers
    2009 No.75 The Treaty of Lisbon after the Second Irish Referendum
    2008 No. 66 The Treaty of Lisbon: an Uncertain Future
    2008 No. 9 Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the treaty on EU
    2008 No. 3 European Union (Amendment) Bill [Bill 48 of 2007-08]
  • Foreign Policy Aspects of the Lisbon Treaty, the 3rd report of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee [HC 120-I & HC 120 II 2007-2008 session] Available on the Committee’s publication pages and in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. See guides to UK official publications.
  • The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, the 10th report of the House of Lords European Union Committee [HL 62 I & II 2007 – 2008 session] Available online at the Committee’s publication pages and in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. See guides to UK official publications.
  • News and analysis from the BBC
  • EU Treaty web site with pages dedicated to the Treaty of Lisbon including news and developments.

Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

  • European Convention web site.
  • The draft treaty … submitted to the president of the European Council in Rome 18 July 2003 335 pages, ISBN 9278401978 [British Library shelf mark: m03/35715]
  • The Draft treaty … submitted to the European Council meeting in Thesaloniki, 20 July 2003 161 pages, ISBN 9278401714 [British Library shelf mark: m03/30176]

Constitutional Treaty: research papers

  • House of Commons Library Research Papers
    2003 No. 16 - The Convention on the Future of Europe: the deliberating phase
    2003 No. 23 - Convention on the Future of Europe: proposals for a European Constitution
    2003 No. 56 - The Convention on the Future of Europe: institutional reform
    2003 No. 58 - The draft Treaty establishing a European Constitution (II & III)
    2003 No. 60 - The draft Treaty establishing a European Constitution: technical and constitutional issues in parts I & IV

Other useful websites, and other documents