Lisbon, 13 December 2007 – Today in Lisbon, the leaders of the European Union festively signed the European Union Reform Treaty, which is amending the founding treaties of the Union. From the Estonian side, the Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet.
“It is an important step in the development of the European Union,” said Ansip. “Agreement on this Treaty allows us to conclude disputes over the procedural rules of the European Union and concentrate on solving real problems such as economic competitiveness, energy, climatic change, international crime, etc”.
The Reform Treaty, which will be referred to as the Treaty of Lisbon, was developed on the basis of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and contains a majority of the novations stipulated in it. Although the Constitutional Treaty was ratified by most Member States of the European Union, including Estonia, it was not enforced due to opposition by the French and Dutch at the referendum organised in these countries.
Ansip expressed hope that the fate of the Treaty of Lisbon will be better than that of the Constitutional Treaty.
“We have worked on the amendments to the Treaty for six years now as of the summoning of the European Convention via several Intergovernmental Conferences and reflection periods,” said the Prime Minister. “It is time to finish this process now, ratify the Treaty and move on to solving topical issues”.
According to Ansip, the decision-making process in the European Union will become easier and faster due to the new Treaty. The list of the fields in which decisions are made by a qualified majority instead of unanimously will be extended. These changes are particularly visible in the fields of justice and home affairs.
“This means that no country can keep on preventing progress indefinitely,” Ansip commented.
The Treaty of Lisbon will also improve the operation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. The position of the High Representative for the Union in Foreign Affairs and Security Policy joining two current positions will be established.
With the Treaty signed today, the single text similar to the Constitutional Treaty has been abandoned; instead, it amends existing treaties on whish Union is founded – Treaty on European Union and Treaty establishing the European Community.
When compared to the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, the section concerning the symbols of the European Union has been abandoned from the new Treaty. Also, the Charter of Fundamental Rights is no longer a part of the Treaty. All this makes the Treaty shorter.
The Treaty of Lisbon will enter into force if ratified by all Member States of the European Union.
“I hope the states will ratify the Treaty in 2008 and it will enter into force on 1 January 2009,” Ansip said.
Head of the EU Information Unit
Government Communications Office