This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
The possibility to revise the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is essential for the European Union (EU). It allows the framework of EU legislation and policies to be adapted to new challenges that the EU has to face. The Treaty of Lisbon now allows for an ordinary and a simplified revision procedure, which makes the revision process more democratic.
Ordinary revision procedure
The ordinary revision procedure concerns key amendments made to the treaties, such as increasing or reducing the competences (areas of legal authority) of the EU. It works as follows.
The European Council may also decide, after obtaining the consent of the Parliament, not to convene a convention if amendments are not of great importance.
Simplified revision procedure
The Treaty of Lisbon creates a simplified procedure for the amendment of the EU’s internal policies and actions (Part III of the TFEU). The objective is to facilitate further European integration in these areas.
This procedure avoids the need to convene the convention and conference of representatives.
Amendments to the treaties only apply if they have been ratified by all Member States.
However, the legal authority of the EU may not be extended by means of a simplified revision procedure.
Passerelle clauses are the second simplified revision procedure.
The general passerelle clause (Article 48 (7) TEU) concerns the two following cases.
Where the TFEU or Title V of the TEU provide for the Council to act by unanimity, the European Council may adopt a decision authorising the Council to act by qualified majority. This possibility does not apply to decisions with military implications and those in the area of defence.
Where the TFEU provides for legislative acts to be adopted by the Council in accordance with a special legislative procedure, the European Council may adopt a decision allowing for the adoption of such an act in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.
In both cases, the European Council can act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the Parliament. Furthermore, each national parliament has the right to object and prevent the general passerelle clause from being activated.
The flexibility clause (Article 352 TFEU)
This clause extends the EU’s powers where a measure appears necessary to attain one of the objectives of the treaties and where the treaties do not provide for the necessary legal authority. Measures under this provision are adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the Parliament. They shall not involve harmonisation of Member States’ laws in areas where the treaties exclude such harmonisation.
Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union – Title VI – Final Provisions – Article 48 (ex Article 48 TEU) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 41–43).
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – Part seven – General and final provisions – Article 352 (ex Article 308 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 196).
last update 14.10.2022