The Lisbon Treaty: Dummies' Guide

The key Articles of the Lisbon Treaty made intelligible

The Lisbon Treaty is published in a manner that is unintelligible.

It is presented as a legal document that merely amends two other legal documents, without showing what effect the amendments have on the amended documents. We have attempted to simplify this by showing both the deletions and additions, thereby we hope, making it intelligible.

For instance, we present Article 57 [64] 2 and 3 in the following manner:

Whilst endeavouring to achieve the objective of free movement of capital between Member States and third countries to the greatest extent possible and without prejudice to the other Chapters of this Treaty the Treaties, the European Parliament and the Council may, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the measures on the movement of capital to or from third countries involving direct investment – including investment in real estate – establishment, the provision of financial services or the admission of securities to capital markets.

Unanimity shall be required for measures under this paragraph which constitute a step back in Community law as regards the liberalisation of the movement of capital to or from third countries. Notwithstanding paragraph 2, only the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, may unanimously, and after consulting the European Parliament, adopt measures which constitute a step backwards in Union law as regards the liberalisation of the movement of capital to or from third countries.

The parts of earlier Treaties that are deleted by the Lisbon Treaty are shown as struck out and the parts added by the Lisbon Treaty are shown in bold type.


The intelligibility of the Treaty has also been complicated by conflicting numbering of the articles. We resolve this by including the Article of the Lisbon Treaty first and, in brackets, the Article of the Consolidated Treaties (ie what the Treaties would be if the Lisbon Treaty is passed). 

For instance Article 57 [64], means Article 57 of the Lisbon Treaty and Article 64 of the Consolidated Treaties.
There is a further complication.

The Lisbon Treaty amends (i) The Treaty Establishing the European Community (this, essentially, is the original Treaty of Rome , signed in 1957, but then, confusingly, renamed Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) and (ii) The Treaty on European Union (this was established in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty, which added new areas of policy to the European Community, notably, Justice and Home Affairs and the common Foreign and Security Policy).

This explains the further confusion in the numbering of the Lisbon Treaty! The Lisbon Treaty amalgamates both Treaties, as did the rejected European Constitution (rejected by the French and Dutch electorates in referenda in 2004).

We here present what the various ‘yes'and ‘no'campaigns consider being the controversial Articles of the Lisbon Treaty. We publish a summary of the arguments advanced by the ‘yes'and ‘no'campaigns on each of the controversial Articles and provide a commentary of our own on each of the controversial Articles, sometimes agreeing with one side, sometimes with the other side.

The Lisbon Treaty is expressed in sexist language, for instance it is assumed that the President of the Council will be male, for the position is referred to in the masculine gender. We have not disturbed that characterisation for reasons of authenticity.

The text has been assembled and coordinated by Kim Murphy. The commentaries have been written by Vincent Browne