The Treaty of Nice
The Treaty that was signed in Nice on 26 February 2001, only three years and a half after the signature of the Treaty of Amsterdam, did not aspire to give a fresh impetus to the European integration process, but only to prepare the institutions of the European Community/Union to function with the representatives of ten new Member States. The Treaty of Nice, which is actually the one in force, revised the Treaty of Amsterdam concerning mainly four institutional matters: the replacement of unanimity by qualified majority in decision-making procedures, the enhanced cooperation of some Member States, the weighting of votes in the Council and the size and the composition of the Commission.
The Treaty of Nice extended the qualified majority voting to new subjects, thereby boosting the role of the European Parliament in the co-decision procedure with the Council. It reinforced and facilitated the enhanced cooperation of some Member States, in cases where an agreement cannot be reached by normal decision-making procedures. The Protocol on the enlargement of the European Union, adopted at Nice, redefined the weighting of the votes of each Member State in the Council and introduced a population element by specifying that decisions taken by qualified majority on the basis of a Commission proposal should gather at least 72% of the total votes of the members, representing at least 62% of the total population of the Union [Decision 2007/4].
The coming into force of the Treaty of Nice was initially held back by the negative result of a referendum of the Irish people, held on 11 June 2001, but the problem was resolved by the positive outcome of a second referendum, held on 19 October 2002. The Treaty of Nice, thus, came into force on 1 February 2003. Under the heading of the city in which it was signed, the Treaty of Nice, as the repealed Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, included in fact two Treaties: the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). As we will see in the next section, the treaty of Lisbon replaced the TEC by the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU).