Treaties of the European Union: Wikis


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The Treaties of the European Union are a set of international treaties between the Union's member states which sets out the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). They establish the various EU institutions, their procedures and the EU's objectives. The EU can only act within the powers granted to it through these treaties.

The two principle treaties on which the EU is based are the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty, effective since 1993) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Rome Treaty, effective since 1958). These main treaties have been altered by amending treaties at least once a decade since they each came into force, the latest being the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force in 2009. The trouble ratification of that treaty has meant there is little climate for further reform in the next few years beyond accession treaties, which merely allow a new state to join.



Any reform to the legal basis of the EU requires a new treaty that must be ratified according to the procedures in each member state. All states are required to ratify it and deposit the instruments of ratification before the treaty can come into force in any respect. In some states, such as Ireland this is usually a referendum as any change to that state's constitution requires one. In others, such as Germany, referendums are constitutionally banned and the ratification must take place in its national parliament.

On some occasions, a state has failed to get a treaty passed by its public in a referendum. In the cases of Ireland and Denmark a second referendum was held after a number of concessions were granted. However in the case of France and the Netherlands, the treaty was abandoned in favour of a treaty that would not prompt a referendum. In the case of Norway, where the treaty was their accession treaty (hence, their membership), the treaty was also abandoned.

Treaties are also put before the European Parliament and while its vote is not binding, it is important; the Italian Parliament said it would veto the Nice Treaty if the European Parliament voted against it.

Ratified treaties

In force
Paris Agr.
Single Act
Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
European Communities Three pillars of the European Union
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
      Justice & Home Affairs (JHA)
  Police & Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign & Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    

Legend for below table:   [Founding] - [Amending] - [Membership]

Treaty Established/Amended Signed in Signed on Effective from Ceased
ECSC Treaty European Coal and Steel Community Paris, FR 01951-04-18 18 April 1951 01952-07-23 23 July 1952 02002-07-23 23 July 2002[1]
Euratom Treaty European Atomic Energy Community Rome, IT 01957-03-25 25 March 1957 01958-01-01 1 January 1958 in force
EEC Treaty European Economic Community Rome, IT 01957-03-25 25 March 1957 01958-01-01 1 January 1958 in force
Merger Treaty Brussels, BE 01965-04-08 8 April 1965 01967-07-01 1 July 1967 01999-05-01 1 May 1999[2]
First Budgetary Treaty Luxembourg, LU 01970-04-22 22 April 1970 01971-01-01 1 January 1971 in force
Acts of Accession Brussels, BE 01972-01-22 22 January 1972 01973-01-01 1 January 1973 in force
Second Budgetary Treaty Brussels, BE 01975-07-22 22 July 1975 01977-06-01 1 June 1977 in force
Act of Accession Enlarged to Greece Athens, GR 01979-05-28 28 May 1979 01981-01-01 1 January 1981 in force
Greenland Treaty[3] Secession of Greenland Brussels, BE 01984-03-13 13 March 1984 01985-01-01 1 January 1985 in force
Acts of Accession Enlarged to Spain and Portugal Madrid, ES
Lisbon, PT
01985-06-12 12 June 1985 01986-01-01 1 January 1986 in force
Single European Act Luxembourg, LU
The Hague, NL
01986-02-17 17 February 1986
01986-02-28 28 February 1986
01987-07-01 1 July 1987 in force
Treaty on European Union European Union Maastricht, NL 01992-02-07 7 February 1992 01993-11-01 1 November 1993 in force
Acts of Accession Corfu, GR 01994-06-24 24 June 1994 01995-01-01 1 January 1995 in force
Treaty of Amsterdam Amsterdam, NL 01997-10-01 1 October 1997 01999-05-01 1 May 1999 in force
Treaty of Nice Nice, FR 02001-02-26 26 February 2001 02003-02-01 1 February 2003 in force
Treaty of Accession 2003 Athens, GR 02003-04-16 16 April 2003 02004-05-01 1 May 2004 in force
Treaty of Accession 2005 Enlarged to Bulgaria and Romania Luxembourg, LU 02005-04-13 13 April 2005 02007-01-01 1 January 2007 in force
Treaty of Lisbon Lisbon, PT 02007-12-13 13 December 2007 02009-12-01 1 December 2009 in force

Unratified treaties

The European Constitution failed due to negative votes in two member states
Treaty instituting a European Defence Community.

Following on from the success of the Treaty of Paris, efforts were made to allow West Germany to rearm within the framework of a European military structure in the form of a European Defence Community. The treaty was signed by the six members on 27 May 1952 and the Common Assembly began drafting a treaty for a European Political Community to ensure democratic accountability of the new army, but this treaty was abandoned when the Defence Community treaty was rejected by the French National Assembly on 30 August 1954.

1973 and 1995 Acts of Accession of Norway

Norway has tried to join the European Communities/Union on two occasions, on both occasions a national referendum returned a negative result leading Norway to turn down membership. The first treaty was signed in Brussels on 22 January 1972 and the second in Corfu on 24 June 1994.

Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (the European Constitution)

The European Constitution was a treaty that would have repealed and consolidated all previous overlapping treaties (except the Euratom treaty) into a single document. It also made changes to voting systems, simplified the structure of the EU and advanced co-operation in foreign policy. The treaty was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 and was due to come into force on 1 November 2006 if it was ratified by all member states. However, this did not occur, with France rejecting the document in a national referendum on 29 May 2005 and then the Netherlands in their own referendum on 1 June 2005. Following a "period of reflection", the constitution in that form was scrapped and replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Next treaty

As a result of the various compromises during the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, there are a number of protocols which leaders have stated will be added to the next treaty, probably the accession treaty of Croatia or Iceland to sooner than 2011. These protocols related to opt-outs and guarantees to Ireland and the Czech Republic in order to get support from their public and president respectively.[4][5]

Following the rejection of the treaty by the Irish electorate in 2008, a number of guarantees (on security and defence, ethical issues and tax) were given to the Irish in return for a second attempt. On the second attempt in 2009 the treaty was approved. Rather than repeat the ratification procedure, the guarantees were merely declarations with a promise to append them to the next treaty.[4][6]

Czech President Václav Klaus refused to complete ratification of the treaty unless the Czech Republic was given an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (as Poland and the United Kingdom had) due to his claim it could be used by Germans expelled from the Eastern bloc after the Second World War. Thus the Irish solution was used again to satisfy his demand.[7][5]

Liberal MEP Andrew Duff has however raised the issue that accession treaties are legally only allowed to detail the a state's accession and appending these issues to one would leave the treaty open to attack in the courts. However a new general reform treaty is unforeseeable in the current climate and leaders may not be willing to have a stand alone treaty on these issues.[6]


  1. ^ Expired due to 50 year limit included in Treaty, absorbed by EU via Treaty of Nice.
  2. ^ Replaced by Amsterdam Treaty
  3. ^ OJ L 29, 1.2.1985
  4. ^ a b Crosbie, Judith (12 May 2009) Ireland seeks sign-off on Lisbon treaty guarantees, European Voice
  5. ^ a b Mahony, Honor (30 October 2009) EU treaty closer to ratification after Czech deal agreed, EU Observer
  6. ^ a b Smyth, Jamie (2 April 2009) MEP queries legal basis for Ireland's Lisbon guarantees, Irish Times
  7. ^ Gardner, Andrew (29 October 2009) Klaus gets opt-out, European Voice

See also

External links



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