Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of post on the Treaty of Lisbon. The first post in the series was by Laurent Pech and can be found here
Now that Ireland has voted yes in a referendum earlier this month – remarkable how democracy swings! – the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon looks set to enter into force over the next couple of months. Barring any further upheaval, such as a recalcitrant Czech President refusing to sign, or further delay allowing the UK Conservative Party (if they win the next general election in the UK) to set up their referendum, the curtain will fall over the European Union’s [EU] long constitutional episode which followed the Treaty of Nice. It is by no means the end of the play though. The curtain may fall for the general public, but behind the scenes much of the work remains to be done. The entry into force of Lisbon will not close institutional reform. Quite the contrary, it will set in motion an intense period of institutional adaptation, governed by often sketchy Treaty provisions which are indeterminate and riddled with opportunities for inter-institutional strife. This is particularly the case for the conduct of the EU’s external relations – or external action, as the Treaties now call it. The role and position of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who will also be a Commission Vice-President, will need to be clarified. His or her relationship with both the Commission President and with the new European Council President will need to be developed. The EU’s External Action Service will need to be set up. These are just some examples.
The focus of this post is not on such institutional issues, but on other questions regarding the EU’s future as an international actor, subject to international law. What are some of the main changes which may affect that future? Here are some projections.
The International Legal Personality of the European Union
Readers probably know this by now, but it is still momentous: the European Community will be no more. The difficult construction of a European Union, based on, and complementing the European Community, will be replaced by a single EU, which will have legal personality (Art 47 Treaty of the European Union [TEU]). That will terminate the rather tedious academic discussions about whether the EU, as opposed to the EC, has international legal personality (it clearly had, at the latest from the moment it started concluding international agreements). Instead of two international legal persons, the EU and the EC, there will be only one. This also means that the various EU external policies will need to be further integrated. Read the rest of this entry…