[JURIST] Leaders from the 27 countries that make up the European Union on Thursday signed [press release] the Treaty of Lisbon [official website; PDF text], a reform treaty designed to speed up the decision-making process within EU institutions and allow EU members to take a more active role in global issues. Under the terms of the treaty, the current EU presidency which is rotated among member states will be replaced in 2009 with a long-term president of the Council of the European Union, and the position of an EU foreign policy high representative will be created. A charter of fundamental European rights [EU materials] is also included. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised the treaty Thursday and called on all member states to quickly ratify the document [speech text, in French; press release].
The signing marks the end of a long and arduous negotiation process. EU leaders reached agreement on the text [JURIST report] of the proposed treaty at a summit [EU materials] in Lisbon in October, working through last minute objections by Poland and Italy. The treaty text was preliminarily approved [JURIST report] by EU legal experts earlier that month. EU leaders reached basic agreement [JURIST report] on the treaty itself in June; it is, in effect, a cut-down version of the failed European constitution [JURIST news archive]. The original draft constitution did not receive unanimous approval among all EU states. Voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the proposal in national referenda in 2005. Only Ireland is planning to hold a referendum on the current treaty. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.