Embargo: 11:00am Thursday 13 March 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords European Union Select Committee have today published their report 'The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment'. The report provides an objective analysis of the potential impact of the Treaty in various different policy areas.

The report is published as the Government are asking the two Houses of Parliament to enable them to ratify the Treaty by passing the European Union (Amendment) Bill. This report aims to inform the House of the most important aspects of the Treaty, by comparing its provisions with the status quo, and assessing their impact on the institutions of the EU, on the Member States and on the UK.

The report looks in detail at every significant provision of the treaty and is designed to aid Parliamentarians in their consideration of the treaty's potential impact. The Committee have sought to analyse the treaty itself and do not address the question of whether or not there should be a referendum on this Treaty.

What does the report cover?

Looking at the general provisions of the Treaty (Chapter 2), the report analyses the effects of the changes to the Union's values, objectives and competences (powers).

The Committee discuss the simplified revision procedures and passerelles (Chapter 3), which could be used to alter significantly the provisions on the face of the Treaties. Under the European Union (Amendment) Bill, government agreement to any further change to decision-making procedures will be subject to approval by both the Commons and the Lords.

The Committee consider the Treaty's likely impact on EU institutions (Chapter 4), changes in the Treaty include the creation of a full-time European Council President. The Union will then have five senior leaders (the European Council President, the leader of the Presidency country, the Commission President, the European Parliament President and the High Representative); the report examines the relationships between these posts.

In the Council of Ministers, the report examines the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) rather than unanimity in more than 40 new areas. The Committee analyse the new system for calculating a majority and the consequences for the UK's voting weight. They also consider the provision requiring the Council of Ministers to meet in public.

Each Member State will not have a Commissioner for five years out of every 15; The Committee weigh up the concern that a Member State without a Commissioner will be disadvantaged. They also consider the possibility that European Parliamentary parties will go into elections with proposed candidates for Commission President. Finally in this Chapter the Committee assess the Treaty's overall effects on the balance of influence between the EU institutions.

The Lisbon Treaty gives the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding status (Chapter 5). The report looks at whether any of the Charter's rights will create "new" rights in the UK. The Committee consider whether the UK's labour and social legislation will be affected (a Government "red line").

The Committee analyse in detail the changes introduced to the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (FSJ€”Chapter 6), including the extension of QMV decision-making and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. They look at the amendments to the UK's opt-in Protocols and consider whether the UK's ability to protect its common law system and its police and judicial processes€”another Government "red line"€”will be affected.

The Treaty introduces several innovations in the area of external affairs and defence (Chapter 7).The report examines how far the Treaty changes the fundamental principles of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the impact on the independence of UK foreign and defence policy€”a third "red line"€”and on the role of NATO.

Under social affairs (Chapter 8) the Committee consider the new EU competence in sport and the new emphasis in the Treaty on children's rights. They examine the "emergency brake" as regards social security measures for migrant workers, the last of the Government's "red lines".

In the area of finance (Chapter 9), the report considers the impact of the Treaty on the EU Budget, the meetings of Finance Ministers from Eurozone states (the Eurogroup) and trade policy. In the area of the internal market (also Chapter 9), the Committee look at the areas of competition, intellectual property, energy markets, public services and tourism. The commitment to "undistorted competition" is no longer in the Treaties but is included in a Protocol; they consider whether this is a significant change.

As regards environment, agriculture, fisheries and animal welfare (Chapter 10), the report assesses the impact of making the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers equal partners with respect to fisheries, agriculture and all aspects of the EU budget, including agricultural spending.

Finally the Committee analyse the new functions which the Treaty gives to national parliaments (Chapter 11). They consider in particular the "yellow card" procedure whereby national parliaments can require reconsideration of EU legislation if it breaches "subsidiarity", i.e. does things which need not be done at EU level.

Lord Grenfell, Chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee, said:

"The European Union Select Committee and its seven Sub-Committees have looked at the Lisbon Treaty in great detail in order to produce this report.

"We have considered every significant provision in the treaty and hope our report will be useful to the House as it addresses the European Union Amendment Bill

"We have deliberately not considered arguments for or against a referendum on the Treaty as our aim was to provide an objective analysis of the treaty itself. It is for Parliament as a whole, not this Committee, to decide whether or not this treaty should be ratified and our aim was to help ensure it makes an informed decision.

"Our report rewards careful reading and we hope Members will take the opportunity to do just that."

Notes to Editors

1. The report The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment is available for The Stationery Office, House of Lords European Union Committee 10th Report of 2007/08, HL Paper 62.

2. The report will be available to download shortly after publication at:

3. The seven Sub-Committees of the EU Select Committee each conducted a detailed analysis of the provisions in the Lisbon Treaty that impacted on their area of expertise. The Sub-Committees are:

Sub-Committee A - Economic and Financial Affairs, and International Trade

Sub-Committee B - Internal Market

Sub-Committee C - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy

Sub-Committee D - Environment and Agriculture

Sub-Committee E - Law and Institutions

Sub-Committee F - Home Affairs

Sub-Committee G - Social Policy and Consumer Affairs

For copies of the report or to request an interview with Lord Grenfell, please contact Owen Williams, Committee Press Officer on 020 7219 8659.