The Lisbon Treaty is a reform treaty – its purpose is to make the EU work betterThe Lisbon treaty aims to make Europe more transparent and accountable. By giving national parliaments a greater say in EU legislation and increasing the areas where elected members of the European Parliament have a say in decision making, the treaty aims to ensure that the EU lives up to its democratic principles.
So what exactly will change?National Parliaments will have a greater influence over EU law if Lisbon is passed. Now, national parliaments are not directly involved with EU decision-making; but with the Lisbon treaty the Dáil would be invited to vet each proposal for EU law and offer an opinion within a certain timeframe. If a number of national parliaments reject a proposal for EU law then it must be reviewed.
The Treaty increases the decision-making role of elected members of the European Parliament; decisions in 40 new areas will now need their approval, these include immigration, asylum, border control and cross-border crime.
The Council of Ministers, which is made up of Ministers from each member state with responsibility for a given area (agriculture, finance etc.) come together to approve European laws. If Lisbon is approved, the Council will meet in public when a law is debated and approved. This has not been the case before. Journalists will be able to cover their discussion and voting so the public will have a clearer sense of how decisions are made.
The Lisbon treaty creates the ‘citizens initiative’, which means that if a group of European citizens gather one million signatures they can ask the Commission to propose a draft law. This is an opportunity for European citizens to actively influence the EU agenda.