The European Union's Institutional Balance after the Treaty of Lisbon: "Community Method" and "Democratic Deficit" Reassessed

By Devuyst, Youri | Georgetown Journal of International Law, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

The European Union's Institutional Balance after the Treaty of Lisbon: "Community Method" and "Democratic Deficit" Reassessed


Devuyst, Youri, Georgetown Journal of International Law


I.   INTRODUCTION: COMMUNITY METHOD AND DEMOCRATIC
     DEFICIT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
     A. The Community Method
     B. The Democratic Deficit

II.  THE EU's TREATY FRAMEWORK AND THE TREATY OF LISBON
     A. The EU's Currently Applicable Treaty Framework
     B. The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe
     C. The Treaty of Lisbon
        1. The Negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon
        2. The Structure of the Treaty of Lisbon

III. BETWEEN A SUPRANATIONAL AND AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL
     ENGINE OF THE INTEGRATION PROCESS
     A. The European Commission as the Supranational
        Integration Engine
        1. The European Commission as an Independent
           Institution
        2. The European Commission's Exclusive Right of
           Legislative Initiative
     B. The European Council as the Intergovernmental Master of
        the EU's Course
        1. The European Council as an Intergovernmental
           Institution
        2. The European Council's Duty to Define the
           EU's Political Priorities

IV.  BETWEEN MAJORITY VOTING AND NATIONAL VETO RIGHTS IN
     EU DECISION-MAKING
     A. Decision-Making on the Revision of the EU Treaties
     B. Decision-Making by the European Council
     C. Decision-Making by the Council of Ministers
        1. The Definition of Qualified Majority Voting
        2. The Use and Extension of Qualified Majority
           Voting

V.    BETWEEN THE SUPRANATIONAL AND THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL
      PERSONIFICATION AND REPRESENTATION OF THE UNION
      A. The President of the European Council
      B. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers
      C. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security
         Policy
      D. The President of the European Commission

VI.   BETWEEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION OF THE SMALLER
      MEMBER STATES AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL POWER POLITICS
      A. The European Commission as the "Representative" of the
         Union's General Interest
      B. The Weighting of the Votes in the Council of Ministers

VII.  BETWEEN TECHNOCRATIC AND PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNANCE
      A. The European Parliament and the Treaty of Lisbon
         1. The Composition of the European Parliament
         2. The Powers of the European Parliament
      B. The National Parliaments and the Treaty of Lisbon
         1. European Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation
         2. The Powers of the National Parliaments in EU
            Decision-Making

VIII. PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EU's
      INSTITUTIONAL BALANCE
      A. The EU in a Process of Permanent Reform
      B. Proposals for Restoring the Community Method
         1. Reinforcing the Role of the European
            Commission
         2. Abolishing the Remaining Veto Rights in EU
            Decision-Making
         3. Returning to Qualified Majority Voting on the
            Basis of Weighted Votes
         4. Requiring the Consent of the European
            Parliament for Treaty Revisions

IX. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION: COMMUNITY METHOD AND DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

On December 13, 2007, the Heads of State or Government of the European Union (EU) signed the Treaty of Lisbon. (1) Once it is ratified by all 27 EU Member States, the Lisbon Treaty will provide the Union with a new institutional basis that is aimed at "enhancing [its] efficiency and democratic legitimacy ... as well as the coherence of its external action." (2) The Lisbon Treaty sets the framework that will guide the decision-making process of the world's most successful peace and integration project since the end of the Second World War. (3) With a population of 493 million inhabitants, the EU is a leading actor in the international arena. (4) Its internal institutional structures have a profound effect on the EU's external policies in such areas as trade, investment, environment, labor standards and human rights. …

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