News articles

Treaty of Lisbon: An insider's view

On 1 December, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force after a difficult and lengthy process. This was celebrated in the city in which the Treaty first saw the light of day with pomp, ceremony and speeches. But what does the Treaty mean in practice? met one of the lawyers who have worked to make the Treaty a reality, Director Torbjörn Haak. Here he gives his view of the Treaty’s journey.

Photo: Gunnar Seijbold / Regeringskansliet

Director Torbjörn Haak gives his view of the Treaty’s journey.

“For me personally, it is a major event. The Treaty, which has been a part of my life for over 10 years, has finally become a reality. That feels great”, he says.

Of course, he has memories from solemn ceremonies and difficult negotiations. But first and foremost it has been a lot of everyday toil.

“I remember late nights, ministers and delegates who fell asleep at the negotiating table, and abstruse French language versions produced at the last minute”, he says.

Greater influence on justice

The new Treaty means two main important changes, according to Mr Haak. Firstly, the EU gains new powers to make decisions in the important area of justice and home affairs. From now on, decisions will be taken by qualified majority in the Council. Previously a Member State could veto a decision. Another new aspect is that the European Parliament becomes a co-legislator. Together with the Stockholm Programme, these changes will lead to a significant increase in activity in this area in the future.

Secondly, the new Treaty strengthens the European institutions. With a permanent President of the European Council and a permanent High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the institutions will have greater continuity and momentum.

Stronger and more efficient institutions

“At the beginning there will, of course, be a period of transition, but during the second half of next year I expect that the new External Action Service will be properly in place and have all the necessary requirements to represent the EU in an effective manner”, says Mr Haak.

Apart from on justice and home affairs, the EU does not get any powers within completely new policy areas under the Treaty of Lisbon. However, by strengthening the institutions, the EU will be able to work more efficiently with those powers it already has. This also means that the institutions get greater real power.

“Looking at how the EU has developed over the past ten years, I think better decision-making capacity has greater significance for continued integration than new work duties for the EU. With the Lisbon Treaty, the Member States are choosing to show great confidence in the institutions as such. It will be exciting to see what the long-term effects of this are”, says Mr Haak.

Perfect Christmas holiday reading

“The Treaty will make perfect Christmas holiday reading! Don’t forget that it is the treaties which govern the EU’s work. In order to be able to do a good job, knowing the treaties is the be-all and end-all”, says Mr Haak. However, he has promised himself some lighter reading than reading the EU Treaty over Christmas and New Year.



01 December



European Council (not council-specific)


Stockholm, Sweden


Helena Lombrink

Web Editor

+46 8 405 81 51

+46 70 214 72 40

  • Print
  • Send to colleague

  • Bookmark and Share

Comments from blogs