Following the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon by the European heads of government in December, the wheels are now in motion for UK ratification. The European Union (Amendment) Bill 2007-08, which is designed to amend the European Communities Act 1972 and to give the Treaty legal force in the UK, was introduced to Parliament on 17 December 2007 and received its second reading on 21 January 2008. The second reading involved a lively debate followed by a motion to approve the Bill in principle, which was won by 362 votes to 224. The Bill will now move on to the committee stage but will be debated by a Committee of the Whole House, rather than in a standing committee outside the chamber, before continuing its journey through the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

There is no doubt that heated discussions lie ahead, particularly in light of calls for a referendum. However, it is also important to keep an eye on the ratification processes in other Member States. If just one EU Member State fails to ratify, the Treaty of Lisbon will not come into effect.

For further information on the Treaty of Lisbon, please see the article in our Parliamentary E-bulletin (click here). To view the European Union (Amendment) Bill and its progress through Parliament please click here.