On 1 December 2009 the Lisbon Treaty entered into force. It represents a further step in the process of European integration and an attempt to render the European Union (EU) more democratic, efficient and more of an authoritative actor in the field of foreign policy.
The Lisbon Treaty will have an impact on the Council of Europe work.
As an international body composed of national parliamentarians, the Parliamentary Assembly has a special interest in the democratic functioning of the decision-making process of the reformed EU. At the same time, it is still to be determined how the interaction between national parliaments and the EU will work in practice, and what impact they will be able to have.
Furthermore, the Lisbon Treaty will change the way in which the EU and its member states are involved in Council of Europe activities, namely in the areas of the negotiation of and participation in conventions, and participation in monitoring mechanisms and expert committees. The new format for the EU involvement in the Council of Europe work will raise a number of complex legal issues, such as those stemming from the EU becoming a party to the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Assembly should be proactive and forward looking in ensuring that the Lisbon Treaty will create the opportunity for a strengthened co-operation between the two Organisations. The Assembly, therefore, should be ready to make recommendations to national parliaments, the Committee of Ministers and the European Union, as regards: