Lisbon a year later

The European Union: an important page which is open

The Lisbon Treaty came into force a year ago, on December 1st 2009. It took almost ten years to enact its reforms. It must be remembered that the Treaty of Lisbon was set up to replace the failed attempt of establishing a European Constitution. The European Union’s political and institutional system thus had to erect a new foundation in view of EU27 enlargement, and in order to come to grips with the new challenges brought by globalization. The European Union advances with the revision of the Treaties it is based on. These revisions must be implemented at regular intervals in order to keep pace with the dynamics of European integration. This shows that Europe’s unification, as well as its concretization with the European Union, is indeed far from being definitive. The Union is not a State. It’s still a project, that must gradually take shape within a larger process. The first year of life of the Lisbon Treaty bears evidence to this. On the one hand, overcoming the institutional crisis, brought about by the adoption of the Treaty – which came about at the end of a long period of debate on its content and form – created new awareness and security, which consolidated EU institutions and normalized synergies. On the other, the experience of Europe’s ongoing economic crisis has shown that additional urgent adjustments of the regulations stipulated in the Treaty ought to be expected. The consolidation of the European building and the innovations introduced by the Lisbon Treaty benefited all European bodies and institutions. The European Parliament relinquished its reservations and is now making the most of its own fields of action, thus becoming an interlocutor of equal stature as the governments in its legislative commitment in all fields. The Council of Ministers is required to consult with Parliament, and viceversa. The European Commission has emerged from the shadows and is once again assuming its responsibility with greater determination, owing to the possibility of undertaking legislative initiatives, as provided for in the Treaty. With the introduction of the Permanent President office, the European Council was granted its own profile and the possibility of developing political strategies and initiatives no longer drawn up from the perspective of a national government leader, but on the basis of a community perspective. This is good for the Union, although the new trait of European policies is not yet fully acknowledged by the public opinion. Most of all this is due to the crisis of the European monetary system that took place in the spring, caused by Greece’s serious debt and that of other euro zone Countries. The ongoing crisis, that triggers concerns over the stability of the common currency, and hence over the very existence of the European Union as a whole, strained the new rules and procedures’ implementation phase, with negative effects on the public opinion.If the crisis had taken place before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it would certainly have been fatal to the European Union. The safe foundations of the new Treaty made it possible to address Greece’s crisis. Also the current crisis in Ireland will be overcome, and will not only consist in curbing the severe consequences in the acute stage of the crisis. What’s most important, is that a lesson will be drawn from experience, by adopting a number of tools, yet to be developed, that are necessary for the good performance and the governance of the monetary system, in order to defend the common currency in a sustainable manner, that will serve for the progress of the European Union along the path towards the creation of a federal community marked by solidarity. In other words, the ongoing crisis stimulates knowledge and perfects the awareness that also with the Lisbon Treaty the last word on the form and content of the European Union has not yet been spoken.

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