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2.6.  The treaties as instruments of progress

    Few people realise that the treaty of Lisbon is in fact composed of two separate Treaties: the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Even fewer citizens realise that there is a fundamental difference between the two Treaties. The differentiation originates in the Maastricht Treaty. In this Treaty and in its Amsterdam and Nice amendments, the Treaty establishing the European Community was based on the tested "Community method", which had instituted and managed the common policies of the common market. The new policies of the EU were to be governed by a method akin to intergovernmental cooperation, in order to persuade eurosceptic nations to advance towards the stage of political integration without conceding bits of national sovereignty [see section 1.1.2]. The consequences of this differentiation are explained in sections 1.5.2 and 1.5.3. The Treaty of Lisbon continues the differentiation between two Treaties, although the second one is renamed ''Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union'', thus ending the confusion between the ''Community'' and the ''Union'' [see section 3.1].

    The successive treaties keep pushing forward the European integration process, both in depth (new common policies) as in the width of the membership. This process began in 1951 with the Treaty on the European Coal and Steel Community, concerning only a customs union of the coal and steel sectors of six countries. The customs union was extended in 1957 to all the economic sectors of these countries with the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC). The Single European Act of 1987 aimed at completing the single market and establishing a political cooperation between the then twelve Member States [see section 2.1]. The Treaty of Maastricht, signed in December 1991, took the integration process one step forward with the initiation of the economic and monetary union [see section 2.2]. The Treaty of Amsterdam, signed in 1997, extended the integration process to most home and judicial affairs of fifteen Member States [see section 2.3]. The Treaty of Nice, signed in February 2001, prepared the enlargement of the Union to twelve more countries [see section 2.4]. The Treaty of Lisbon, signed in December 2007, resolved the crisis brought about by the Constitutional Treaty, stillborn in Rome in October 2004, reinforcing the institutions of the Union so as to work adequately with 27 (now 28) Member States [see section 2.5].

    The frequency and vigour of the amendments of the European treaties show that their authors, i.e. the governments of the Member States, do not consider them as sacred and unalterable, but they use them as perfectible instruments of the multinational integration process. Given that the problems of European states change continually under the pressure of internal and external factors, the common policies must develop regularly in order to face them successfully. This is the reason why the Treaties, which are the primary source of European law and hence the legal basis of common policies, have to be modified frequently. The frequent amendments of the treaties are a manifestation of the ''constant progress syndrome'', mentioned in section 1.5. However, the existence of two separate Treaties, one on the European Union and one on the European Community (now named ''on the functioning of the European Union''), their frequent modifications, the changes in the numbering of their articles and the technocratic language of their texts are daunting and hardly likely to mobilise the public opinion in favour of European integration [see sections 10.1 and 10.4].

    In fact, the Treaty of Lisbon is only a ring - certainly not the last - in the chain of treaties that move forward European economic and political integration. The integration process is evolutionary and the Treaties are the means of progress [see section 1.1.2]. But, together with the progress of the integration process, grow eurosceptic objections to its extension, particularly in the political field. It is probable that the reforms brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon will not satisfy the aspirations of the citizens of some Member States to see their Union act as a protagonist in world affairs, while they will be seen with scepticism by the citizens of some other Member States. It is normal that in any social group (family, tribe, nation, group of nations…) there should be differences of opinion as to the management of its affairs. The way to settle this problem found by the democratic system of governance is the majority rule, whereby the minority has to follow decisions taken by the majority. This rule has henceforth to be applied in the signing and ratification of European treaties. The unanimity rule for the ratification of the European treaties should be replaced by a rule of three thirds majority, similar to that in force for the ratification of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States [see section 1.5].

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