The Treaty of Lisbon



The Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community



Institutional changes

The European Parliament

The European Council

Consisting of heads of state or government, this gives the EU greater continuity and coherence. It is formally recognised as an EU institution that sets out the EU’s general political directions and priorities.

It elects by majority vote a president for a once renewable 30-month mandate, replacing the previous 6-month rotating role.

The Council

It applies new majority voting rules when approving legislation. To secure a majority requires at least 55% of EU countries representing at least 65% of the EU’s population. To block a proposal, at least 4 countries have to be against.

It meets in public when discussing and voting on draft legislation.

The European Commission

The President of the Commission is:

The Court of Justice of the EU

Its jurisdiction is extended to all EU policy areas except for the common foreign and security policy.

The European Central Bank (ECB)

The ECB is now formally recognised as an EU institution by being listed in Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

Common foreign and security policy

The treaty:

Other changes

EU policies

The previous pillar structure is replaced by a new distribution of competences:

Strengthening democracy

The treaty:

Leaving the EU

The treaty provides for the first time a formal procedure if an EU country wishes to withdraw from the EU (Article 50 TEU – see summary on Article 50 negotiations with the UK (1)).


It was signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009.


The Lisbon Treaty is largely inspired by the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The constitution had been intended to replace the EU’s founding treaties with a single text. It was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. To enter into force, the constitution needed to be ratified by all (the then) 27 EU countries (17 ratified). However, it was rejected by national referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

In contrast, the Lisbon Treaty amends those treaties, just as the Amsterdam and Nice treaties had done. It incorporates the majority of the institutional and policy reforms the constitutional treaty had envisaged.


Democratic equality: the EU must observe the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies (Article 9 TEU).
Representative democracy: EU citizens are directly represented at EU level by the European Parliament.
Participatory democracy: EU citizens have the right to participate in EU decisions and interact with the EU institutions, for example, through dialogue by means of civil society organisations in which they are members.


Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007 (OJ C 306, 17.12.2007, pp. 1–271)

last update 15.12.2017

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.