This Policy Paper by Philippe de Schoutheete is part of a series of works that Notre Europe has dedicated to the evolution of the European institutions in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty. It focuses in particular on the European Council, whose role has become so pivotal, that we can now refer not to a ‘triangle’ but rather to an ‘institutional trapezium’.
The first part looks back over the history of this institution. It highlights the fact that the progressive strengthening of the European Council has not occurred to the detriment of the Community Method, whose role has also increased, as the Lisbon Treaty even made co-decision the ordinary legislative procedure in most fields.
The second part reviews the changes introduced by this same Treaty with regard to the European Council, whose transformation into an institution is evidence of the importance that it has gained. The urgent matters that it has had to face have left it little time to define the priorities of EU activity, as set forth in the Treaty. But all throughout the crisis, the European Council has been the place where major decisions have been adopted.
The third part queries the role that the European Council will be called on to play in the future. The Lisbon Treaty did not lead to the simplification that was expected with regard to foreign relations but the role that the European Council has played in response to the crisis and the legitimacy that it has acquired as a result, are undoubtedly important aspects in the progressive construction of the government of Europe.