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The European Union: Leadership Changes Resulting from the Lisbon Treaty

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Congressional rept.

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Changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Unions EUs new reform treaty that took effect on December 1, 2009, have a significant impact on EU governance. The EU is an important partner or interlocutor of the United States in a large number of issues, but the complicated institutional dynamics of the EU can be difficult to navigate. The Lisbon Treaty makes substantial modifications in the leadership of the EU, especially with regard to the European Council, the Council of Ministers, and the EUs rotating presidency. Every six months, the EU Presidency rotates among the 27 member states. Under the treaty, however, the leader of the presidency country no longer serves as the temporary chair and spokesman of the European Council, the grouping of the EUs 27 national leaders. This duty now belongs to the newly created President of the European Council, who serves a once-renewable two-and-a-half year term. In addition, the foreign minister of the presidency country no longer chairs the meetings of EU foreign ministers in the Council of the EU commonly known as the Council of Ministers. This duty is now performed by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, another newly created position whose holder serves a five-year term and is both an agent of the Council of Ministers and a Vice President of the European Commission. Many of the day-to-day duties of the rotating presidency country, however, will continue under the Lisbon Treaty. Ministers of the presidency country will still chair all of the meetings of the Council of Ministers other than in the area of foreign policy. The presidency country is expected to continue preparing and arranging these activities, and playing a leading role in the Council of Ministers to forge agreement on legislative proposals. The presidency country is also expected help formulate a few broad policy priorities for its tenure.

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  • Government and Political Science

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