The European Union is currently based on the treaty framework which emerged as the Treaty of Nice entered into force in 2003 (European Union, 2003). The Constitutional Treaty elaborated during the Convention on the Future of Europe, 2002-2003, and finally negotiated during the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), 2003-2004, proposed a number of changes in that framework, but the treaty was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands in May and June 2005 (Laursen, 2008). After a reflection period it was decided to negotiate a so-called Reform Treaty. The German Presidency played an important role in securing agreement on a mandate for a new IGC in June 2007. During the Portuguese Presidency in the autumn of 2007 that IGC then produced a new treaty, the Lisbon Treaty (European Union 2007).
In this paper we shall explore the process of producing this latest EU treaty, outline the most important institutional changes of the treaty, and discuss its significance. Will the Lisbon Treaty improve the efficiency, democratic legitimacy "as well as the coherence of its external action," as the mandate from June 2007 claimed it should?