Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans
Chapter 1: Constitutional foundations and EU institutional framework: seven years of working with Lisbon reform
When the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009 hopes were high that the main points raised by the European Council in the Laeken Declaration had been sufficiently addressed and that the European Union was now better equipped to function smoothly and efficiently. The masterminds behind this treaty revision picked up the pieces of the failed constitutional reform and used some of the agreed measures as the point of departure for work on the negotiation mandate and then throughout the Intergovernmental Conference. These efforts aimed at, inter alia, simplification of the legal foundations of the Union as well as reform of the EU’s institutional framework with the view of making it more democratic and more efficient. After two consecutive rounds of enlargement the number of Member States almost doubled, potentially exacerbating the already stretched EU’s institutional framework. With 27 Member States on board, it was becoming increasingly difficult to remain ‘united in diversity’. Although an EU of different speeds had been on the cards from the early days of European integration, it gained momentum with the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht, which cemented several opt-outs for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. The introduction of the enhanced co-operation mechanism by the Treaty of Amsterdam was another step forward in this respect. The Union has undergone a painfully brokered institutional reform process since, and it is currently facing the biggest existential crisis in its history.