European leaders sign Lisbon Treaty

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Leaders from European Union countries gather for official photo.
Image: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP.

Today, leaders from the nations of the European Union signed the landmark Treaty of Lisbon which is to redefine foreign policy for the EU and creates an EU president. The treaty is a replacement for the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe which was abandoned after suffering defeats in referendums in France and the Netherlands.

"From this old continent, a new Europe is born," said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. "For the first time, the countries that were once divided by a totalitarian curtain, are now united in support of a common treaty that they had themselves negotiated."

The President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy said to reporters: "Europe was blocked, without knowing how to move forward and we found the solution with this treaty."

United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not attend, and David Miliband signed the treaty in his stead. "This is a day for Europe to look to the future.," Miliband said.

Reform Treaty documents.

Citing prior obligations for his failure to be in Lisbon, Brown added his signature later after appearing before the House of Commons Liaison Committee in the morning. Critics have claimed he does "not have the guts" to sign and is trying to avoid the political liability of having his name on the document.

Speaking at the ceremony, Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates said, "This was the European project that many generations dreamt of and others before us championed, with a vision of the future."

From here, each country will have to ratify the treaty. Most countries will probably not hold referendums on the treaty as voters would be likely to reject the treaty; some leaders have committed to hold referendums, but are attempting to avoid doing so for similar reasons.