The Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed on 13 December 2007, has now been ratified by five of the required 27 Member States. The first Member States to complete their ratification processes, Hungary and Slovenia, have now been joined by Malta, Romania and France. However, the latest approval of the Treaty of Lisbon comes not from a Member State but from the European Parliament itself. On 20 February 2008, and perhaps not surprisingly, the European Parliament displayed overwhelming support for the Treaty by adopting an own-initiative report with 525 votes in favour, 115 against and 29 abstentions. The report describes the Treaty as a "substantial improvement on the existing Treaties". It "endorses the Treaty and stresses the need for all Member States of the Union to achieve its ratification in good time for its entry into force on 1 January 2009."

To view the full report please click here

In the coming months, as the Treaty moves towards full ratification, we plan to take a look at some of the detailed provisions contained within the Treaty. The areas that will be looked at in further detail include the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the role and functions of the European Courts, the EU legislative process and various substantive policy areas.

Meantime, readers may be interested to know that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has produced a  consolidation of the EU Treaties as they would be amended by the Treaty of Lisbon.

For further information on the Treaty of Lisbon please see our Parliamentary E-bulletin article and for details of the progress of the European Union (Amendment) Bill through the UK Parliament, please see the article in last month's Public Law E-bulletin