Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law

Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans

Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law offers a critical look into the European Union: its legal foundations, competences and institutions. It provides an analysis of the EU legal system, its application at the national level and the prevalent role of the Court of Justice. Throughout the course of the Handbook the expert contributors discuss whether the European Union is well equipped for the 21st century and the numerous crises it has to handle. They revisit the call for an EU reform made in the Laeken Conclusions in 2001 to verify if its objectives have been achieved by the Treaty of Lisbon and in daily practice of the EU institutions. The book also delves into the concept of a Europe of different speeds, which - according to some - is inevitable in the EU comprising 28 Member States. Overall, the assessment of the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty is positive, even if there are plenty of suggestions for further reforms to re-fit the EU for purpose.

Chapter 1: Constitutional foundations and EU institutional framework: seven years of working with Lisbon reform

Adam Łazowski and Steven Blockmans

Subjects: law - academic, european law


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.