Anthony Luzzatto Gardner & Stuart E Eizenstat. Foreign Affairs. Volume 89, Issue 2. March/April 2010.
On December 1, 2009, after nearly a decade of acrimonious debate, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force across the 27 member states of the European Union. The treaty reforms EU institutions, making the organization more accountable to voters and enhancing its ability to address European and global challenges. Over the long term, the treaty may make the EU a more coherent international actor, thereby significantly affecting non-EU countries, including the United States.
The Lisbon Treaty is the latest in a long line of EU reform efforts. It is the fifth amendment to the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the EU’s predecessor. Following the Single European Act of 1986—which laid the foundations for Europe’s single market, assuring for the first time the free flow of goods, capital, people, and services among the member states—the EU reformed its institutions and decision-making process through the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, and the Nice Treaty of 2001. But with the cumulative effect of these amendments widely acknowledged to have complicated decision-making—and with the organization planning to enlarge from 15 to 25 member states in 2004—EU leaders sought to replace the confusing patchwork of EU treaties with a single, overarching constitution. The resulting document, drafted by a constitutional convention in 2002-3, was signed by all EU heads of government in 2004 but was rejected the following year by French and Dutch voters, who feared that a European constitution would limit their countries’ national voting rights, sovereignty, and access to EU funds.
In 2007, after a two-year “period of reflection,” the EU heads of state agreed in Lisbon on a draft treaty that was nearly identical in substance to the constitution but—in deference to public opinion in some member states—dropped references to the trappings of statehood (such as an EU flag and an EU anthem) and sought to amend, rather than replace, earlier EU treaties. By November 2009, every EU member state had ratified the treaty.
European officials generally agree that the Lisbon Treaty will be the EU’s last significant institutional reform for the foreseeable future. In several member states, it is considered the high-water mark of the European integration project, and the prospect of transferring more power to Brussels commands little enthusiasm. In the United Kingdom, for example, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and the country’s likely next prime minister, has vowed to pass a series of measures that would constrain the further transfer of authority from London to Brussels and allow the United Kingdom to opt out of EU rules concerning social policy, criminal justice, and employment.
Cameron’s proposals highlight a central issue regarding the Lisbon Treaty and the EU in general: their ultimate effectiveness will depend on whether politicians and voters in the member states embrace integration or focus instead on maintaining their own national prerogatives.
Lessons of Failure
Starting with just six member states in 1958 and now with 27, the EU (and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, which evolved into the European Community, or EC) has been a significant force behind the unification of a historically war-torn continent under a peaceful, legally binding democratic covenant. It has encouraged democratic and free-market economic reforms in Greece, Portugal, and Spain (all of which were formerly under authoritarian rule) and in the former communist nations of central and eastern Europe. In the Balkans and in Turkey, the prospect of EU membership has spurred economic and political reforms and promoted democratic values. And the EU has established a single market free of barriers, a common monetary policy (including a common currency for most member states), a zone of passport-free travel (excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland), and a significant body of common laws. For member states to have transferred so much sovereign power to the EUs central institutions is a unique achievement. However, foreign policy has always been the weakest element of the EU’s integration project.
Member states began coordinating their foreign policies in the 1970s through an informal process known as the European Political Cooperation, which the Maastricht Treaty later formalized into a distinct intergovernmental decision-making process. Even then, however, the impact of EU foreign policy remained limited. Despite issuing countless declarations and “common positions” setting out official recommendations, the EU was usually unable to shape world events. Its role was largely confined to responding to crises, rather than preventing them or marshaling EU resources proactively to achieve defined objectives.
This harsh reality was highlighted during the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991-92, the Bosnian war of 1992-95, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. When hostilities broke out in Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister Jacques Poos of Luxembourg—which then held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Community, the principal EC decisionmaking body, composed of ministers from the member states—famously declared, “This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans.” Poos was wrong: the EC’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis failed; Germany’s threat to recognize Croatia and Slovenia forced the ec to do so in the name of unity, against the preferences of most member states; and the ensuing bloodshed ultimately required U. S. -led political and military intervention in Bosnia and, later, in Kosovo.
The Bosnia debacle highlighted that in some crises it would be impossible to paper over member states’ profoundly divergent interests. It also demonstrated that flawed institutions and decision-making arrangements—coupled with the inability to back up policy with military means—left the EU largely unable to influence world events. Although EU leaders recognized that some divergent interests would not be able to be overcome because they were rooted in differing historical experiences, they resolved to improve the EU’s capacity to act effectively when consensus was possible.
The EU’s main institutional flaw was the way the Council of the European Union (the successor to the Council of the European Community) was led: member states held the presidency on a rotating basis for a term of only six months. As a result, the EU was typically represented abroad by a troika of officials: the foreign minister from the country currently holding the Council of the European Union presidency, the foreign minister from the country that had previously held the presidency, and the foreign minister from the country next in line to hold it. The Balkan conflict made clear that the lack of continuity in leadership undermined policy and that the troika conveyed mixed messages to the outside world. The Yugoslav parties felt that the troika countries—in 1991, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal—had neither power nor real interests at stake in their conflict.
In 1999, in an effort to make itself a more coherent international actor, the EU appointed Javier Solana, a former Spanish foreign minister and former NATO secretary-general, to the newly created post of high representative for common foreign and security policy. Assisted by a small foreign policy team and an EU military staff comprising officers borrowed from member states, Solana ably served for a decade as the EU’s principal foreign policy spokesperson and representative.
However, the deep divisions among member states that surfaced during the Iraq war reinforced concerns that flaws in the EU’s structure hampered its ability to exert power. One problem was that Solana’s post coexisted with the post of European commissioner for external relations, which handled the European Commission’s relations with the world (except for trade), including overseeing diplomatic delegations in non-EU countries. Solana had political clout as the member states’ representative but had a limited budget, mandate, and staff; the commissioner for external relations had a significant budget and staff but only spoke for the European Commission, the EU’s unelected executive branch. Their overlapping responsibilities and occasional lack of coordination resulted in ineffective uses of scarce resources. Meanwhile, the EU was still represented abroad by a slightly amended but equally unwieldy troika: the high representative for EU common foreign and security policy, the commissioner for external relations, and the foreign minister of whichever country held the Council of the European Union presidency. It took the Lisbon Treaty to end that arrangement.
The Lisbon Treaty created the post of high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, who serves a fiveyear term as EU foreign minister and is supported by a large corps of diplomats. This new high representative, who also serves as a vice president of the European Commission, carries out policies determined by the member states. The new post replaces Solana’s, and although it bears a title similar to the one that was held by Solana, it has a clearer mandate. The treaty establishes, for example, that the new high representative speaks for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy in international forums and organizations, which the troika used to do. This new streamlined system should enhance the EU’s credibility, continuity, and communication.
The new high representative’s main tools are a budget estimated at 4 billion euros and the European External Action Service, a team of 3,000 diplomats stationed in 130 delegations in countries and international organizations worldwide. These delegations represent the entire EU, not just the European Commission, as past delegations did. This means that these delegations (rather than the embassy of the country holding the rotating Council of the European Union presidency) represent the EU in non-EU countries on all matters of foreign policy. If this new diplomatic corps builds broad and deep expertise on foreign policy and facilitates the emergence of an EU-wide perspective, it may prove to be the Lisbon Treaty’s most significant innovation.
Several factors, however, may limit the high representative’s effectiveness in practice. First, although the high representative has the central foreign policy role in the European Commission, four other commissioners are responsible for related external issues: international trade; EU enlargement and “neighborhood policy” toward non-EU countries that are not candidates for accession; international cooperation, humanitarian aid, and crisis response; and development assistance. It remains to be seen how effectively the various commissioners will coordinate their responsibilities.
The Lisbon Treaty partly ends the inefficient system of six monthly rotations in the leadership of the Council of the European Union by providing that the high representative shall chair and craft the agenda for all monthly Council of the European Union meetings on to affairs. However, the old system lives on to some extent because the relevant minister from the country holding the rotating presidency will continue to chair and craft the agenda for meetings on general affairs—which include some affairs having international significance, such as EU enlargement, humanitarian aid, climate change, energy security, and economic and monetary policy. The high representative might therefore have difficulty ensuring that all strands of the EUs foreign policy are consistent.
Another challenge, as ever, will be managing the diversity of interests among the 27 EU member states. Any further accessions, of course (including those of Croatia and Macedonia, which are scheduled to take place over the next few years), will compound the challenge. Also, it is possible that energetic national leaders may seize the diplomatic center stage, much as French President Nicolas Sarkozy did in early 2009 when he sought to broker a halt to Israeli-Palestinian clashes even after France’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union had ended. Germany’s increasing assertiveness in foreign policy—and unwillingness to subordinate its national interests to those of the EU—may continue to complicate the search for consensus among EU members, especially on issues of particular concern to Germany, such as energy security and relations with Russia.
These challenges would be diminished if the high representative were an experienced, respected figure capable of crafting consensus. EU leaders missed the opportunity to gain such a figure when, in November 2009, they selected as high representative Catherine Ashton, whose previous political experience mainly included having held a number of junior ministerial roles in the United Kingdom before serving, ably, as EU trade commissioner for just 14 months. This move signaled that EU leaders want the high representative to be their servant, not their rival.
The Lisbon Treaty does little to resolve the tense relationship between the foreign policies of the individual member states and that of the EU as a whole. Although the treaty offers tools for making EU foreign policy more effective, member states may still pursue their own policies. On nearly every foreign and security policy issue, in fact, the high representative is able to act only with the unanimous consent of the member states. This means that a single small country—such as Cyprus, Luxembourg, or Malta—can block an action supported by all the other EU member states. Likewise, the overseas delegations of the European External Action Service will cooperate with, but not replace, the diplomatic missions of the member states throughout the world. Under the Lisbon Treaty, neither the high representative nor the External Action Service affects the “responsibilities, and powers of each Member State in relation to the formulation and conduct of its foreign policy, its national diplomatic service, relations with third countries and participation in international organisations, including a Member State’s membership of the United Nations.” In other words, foreign policy decision-making remains intergovernmental rather than supranational.
Still, the Lisbon Treaty has altered the system. By virtue of her responsibilities and resources, Ashton will receive substantial attention from non-EU countries, including the United States, in important forums, such as the Quartet (composed of the EU, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations), which works to broker the Middle East peace process.
Looking For a Leader
The Lisbon on Treaty may also strengthen the EU as an international actor through its creation of a new, full-time post of president of the European Council, the body composed of member states’ heads of government. This official—who is appointed in his personal capacity, rather than as a representative of a member state—serves as president for a renewable term of two and a half years. This new arrangement downgrades the role of the country holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union in a six-monthly rotation. PreLisbon, that role provided significant powers to set the EU agenda. That old structure overburdened some smaller states’ leaders with the responsibility of managing the EU agenda while simultaneously heading a national government, and it allowed some larger states to unduly impose their own priorities on the EU when they held the presidency. Post-Lisbon, member states will continue to hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union in rotation and to propose their own policy agendas, but the treaty has transferred the most significant powers to the new, full-time president of the European Council.
The treaty does not define the new president’s role in great detail, but it does enumerate some tasks: chairing the European Council, “driving forward its work,” ensuring its proper “preparation and continuity,” and facilitating its “cohesion and consensus.” This suggests that the president is more akin to a chairperson with procedural and representational responsibilities than to a head of state with substantive executive duties. Indeed, member states’ heads of government seemed to adopt this interpretation last November when they appointed as European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, who had previously served as Belgium’s prime minister for less than one year. Some critics lamented that the position did not go to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a politician of international stature considered better suited to act as a strong executive. But this criticism missed the mark. Indeed, having proved his mettle as a skillful negotiator between the Flemish and the Walloons during his tenure as Belgian prime minister, Van Rompuy may succeed in crafting consensus among the member states and in ensuring a coherent, consistent EU agenda.
The Lisbon Treaty tasks the European Council president with representing the EU on issues of common foreign and security policy “at his level,” meaning with the presidents and prime ministers of non-EU countries. This role might conflict with that of the high representative. But if the president is in effect a chairperson, other countries’ heads of government are unlikely to be interested in discussing these issues with him. In that case, the high representative would evolve into the more substantial EU figure, and the European Council president may come to resemble the presidents of countries such as Germany, symbolic heads of state with few real powers.
The uncertainty regarding the relationship between the high representative and the president demonstrates that, for all of its virtues, the Lisbon Treaty has not fully streamlined the EU’s leadership. Creating the high representative and the full-time post of president were helpful steps, but the treaty is still unlikely to solve a major problem of the EU: overrepresentation. In forums such as the G-20, the EU’s claims to being a single, coherent actor have been undercut by the high number of European officials in attendance, including representatives from the country holding the rotating Council of the European Union presidency, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank, as well as leaders from six different member states (four as G-20 members and two as guests). No matter his skills, President Van Rompuy might only add to this crowd and thereby to the problem of overrepresentation.
The View from Washington
From the founding of the European Economic Community in 1958 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Washington supported ever-increasing European integration. In doing so, its goal was to contain rivalries between European states, promote Europe’s economic dynamism, and strengthen Europe’s ability to resist Soviet domination. In 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy declared, “The United States looks on this vast new enterprise with hope and admiration. We do not regard a strong and united Europe as a rival but as a partner … in all the great and burdensome tasks of building and defending a community of free nations.”
Once the European economic miracle was flourishing, however, U.S. support for the “vast new enterprise” became tinged with concerns that Washington might be losing influence in Europe. Since the 1970s, nents of realpolitik have worried that support for European integration mines Washington’s ability to work with individual European allies, such as United Kingdom, and to exert over other European states. As former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in 2001, the process of integration has “institutionally fostered” the estrangement of the United States from Europe because Washington has been increasingly excluded from Europe’s centralized decision-making process and stripped of its ability to be heard by individual member states.
The approaches of recent U.S. administrations toward the EU have varied. The Clinton administration (in which we both served) unambiguously favored the development of a common EU foreign and security policy, even one that might sometimes conflict or compete with that of the United States. The George W. Bush administration supported EU integration rhetorically, but many of its policies had the effect, if not the intent, of driving wedges between EU member states over certain issues, particularly the invasion of Iraq. In the neoconservative view of some Bush administration officials, the United States was more likely to achieve its foreign policy goals if Europe was divided and if the United States worked through “coalitions of the willing” than if Europe was unified and able to coordinate its policy centrally.
With the current administration, as many former Clinton administration officials have returned to the U.S. government, the pendulum has swung back. In 2003, James Steinberg (who had earlier been Bill Clinton’s deputy national security adviser and is now deputy secretary of state) and Philip Gordon (who had also worked on the National Security Council staff under Clinton and is now assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs) praised the proposed European constitution. They thought it would improve decision-making on European defense spending and foreign policy and, in turn, enhance Europe’s ability to partner with the United States in addressing global challenges. In testimony before the U.S. Congress in December 2009, Gordon said that the Lisbon Treaty “marks a milestone for Europe and for its role in the world” and noted its potential to promote “a more consistent, coherent and effective foreign policy.”
The U.S. government will be paying particular attention to whether the Lisbon Treaty enhances the EU’s ability to implement a common security policy that might ultimately lead to a common EU defense. The treaty would ultimately hurt U.S. interests if it led to a full-fledged European military structure outside the NATO framework, as such duplication might divert assets away from NATO. An EU military structure might also constrain Europe’s already inadequate spending on military preparedness. Critics of the Lisbon Treaty also allege that its mutual defense commitment—which requires EU states to provide aid and assistance, “by all the means in their power,” to any fellow member state that is attacked—duplicates NATO’s Article 5 guarantee of collective defense, the linchpin of the Atlantic alliance.
In fact, the Lisbon Treaty explicitly reaffirms that for those countries that are members of both the EU and NATO, NATO remains “the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.” So far, there are no signs that the Lisbon Treaty, or the EU’s security policy generally, is likely to undermine NATO. Moreover, the European Union Military Staff, the EU’s sole permanent integrated military structure, provides the high representative with only early warning, situation assessment, and strategic planning and has only a limited staff and budget. Former French President Jacques Chirac once tried to create a European security and defense union (among Belgium, France, Germany, and Luxembourg), with a full-fledged headquarters for planning and commanding European military missions, but the idea was short-lived. France’s recent decision to reenter NATO’s military command—after more than 40 years’ absence—is a prominent sign of NATO’s enduring strength. So is the recent accession to the EU of various central and eastern European states, all of which are strongly attached to NATO.
Individual member states will continue to remain in control of their security and defense policymaking. Even under the Lisbon Treaty, they retain control over their military assets and are free to decide whether to provide resources to EU missions and whether to participate in ad hoc coalitions involved in common security and defense operations.
Although still nascent, the EU-NATO relationship is cooperative. Officials at various levels of the two organizations meet regularly, and there are permanent military liaison arrangements that facilitate cooperation at an operational level. Deeper institutional ties, however, will require the cooperation of Cyprus and Turkey. Cooperation between the EU and NATO was originally based on the premise that they would not be present in the same theaters of operation. More often than not, however, they have operated in the same places with different missions, with the EU typically focusing on civilian missions and NATO taking on military tasks. The synergy between the organizations is clear: the more the EU succeeds in its responses to crises, the lower the strain is on NATO resources.
The Lisbon Treaty expands the scope of the security-related tasks the EU is now permitted to undertake to include joint disarmament operations, military advising and assistance, conflict prevention, and postconflict stabilization. Beyond its civilian missions, the EU has also operated in six military missions to date: replacing NATO peacekeepers in Macedonia in 2003 and in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2004; assisting the UN in stabilizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in supervising elections there in 2003 and 2006; assisting the African Union in addressing the crisis in Darfur in 2005 and 2006; protecting Darfur refugees and UN personnel in Chad in 2008 and 2009; and, most recently, providing significant naval support to the UN in protecting food aid and vulnerable commercial vessels from piracy off the Somali coast. In Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU used the “Berlin Plus arrangements,” which date back to 2003 and guarantee the EU access to NATO assets and capabilities for EU-led operations. In other missions, the EU operated autonomously but kept NATO informed. Thus, the EU and NATO are increasingly working together, and the EU is demonstrating that its security objectives will not focus exclusively on soft power. To be sure, further work is required to develop the EU-NATO partnership beyond the Berlin Plus arrangements and enable both organizations to deliver the appropriate combination of civilian and military responses to crises.
The Lisbon Treaty may also serve U.S. interests by helping solve a problem that has long been of bipartisan concern in Washington: Europe’s inadequate defense spending. Europe has consistently spent at best half of what the United States has on military equipment, research, and technology (in terms of both gross expenditures and percentage of GDP). Although all NATO members are expected to allocate at least two percent of their annual GDPs to defense expenditures, the only EU members of NATO that do so are Bulgaria, France, Greece, and the United Kingdom. (France and the United Kingdom alone accounted for 44 percent of all defense spending among EU members of NATO in 2008.) Germany, Europe’s largest economy, spends only roughly 1.3 percent of its GDP on defense and, like France and the United Kingdom, is facing significant pressure to limit its military spending in light of the recent economic crisis. Except for some central and eastern European countries alarmed by Russia’s 2008 intervention in Georgia, EU member states are unlikely to ramp up their defense spending anytime soon.
If that is the case, the only way to improve the EU’s ability to project hard power will be to ensure that it spends its money more efficiently. This could happen if EU countries were to consolidate their defense industries, liberalize the market for military procurement, and collaborate more often on research, development, and manufacturing. To avoid wasting funds on programs that often serve as life support for local defense industries, EU countries should pool their resources whenever practicable.
The Lisbon Treaty encourages such behavior. It tasks the European Defense Agency, which was created in 2004 to support the European Security and Defense Policy, with promoting compatible procurement policies and coordinating relevant research and development efforts. Such efforts should be encouraged and expanded if they can begin to bridge the transatlantic gap in military capabilities. Structured cooperation between NATO and the European Defense Agency, as well as the participation of Turkey in the agency, would be beneficial, too.
Facing the Future
For decades, the EU has exercised its soft power by giving large sums of foreign aid, entering into privileged trade arrangements (especially with former colonies), and wielding diplomatic incentives (especially with countries seeking membership). But its response to international crises has too often consisted of ad hoc policies and toothless communiqués. Although soft power will remain relevant, the EU faces many threats that will require proactive measures backed by the credible threat of force.
The Lisbon Treaty is an important step forward, but EU member states still need to develop a common view of their international security environment. It would be unrealistic to expect member states’ deeply rooted policies to become entirely consistent, but there are signs of convergence. In 2003, for example, the European Council adopted a white paper on “European security strategy” that identified the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organized crime, state failure, energy insecurity, and climate change as the gravest threats. A common risk assessment of this kind is the first step toward defining common strategies, assessing tactics, and deciding what price the bloc is willing to pay for its actions. And despite their differences regarding the Balkans and the Middle East, member states have forged common EU policies toward these regions, including regarding the Iranian nuclear threat and the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
European foreign policies are gradually becoming more “Europeanized.” Member states’ foreign ministers now gather under EU auspices as regularly as they meet with their own cabinets. Even though times of crisis will continue to reveal high-profile disagreements among member states, the general instinct in European foreign ministries is increasingly to find a common European position on most issues, even at the price of making compromises. The EU’s member states nearly always vote in unison in un bodies and other international forums, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This process is likely to continue and should, coupled with the Lisbon Treaty, result in a more coherent EU foreign policy.
If the EU is capable of acting as an effective partner, the United States will be better able to address global challenges such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, humanitarian disasters, and energy insecurity. There will be times, of course, when the EU will pursue contrary policies, but efforts to build up the EU as a counterweight to Washington have never gained significant traction (even in France). The transatlantic tensions of recent years reflected Europeans’ specific opposition to the policies of the George W. Bush administration, not innate anti- Americanism. Moreover, the EU’s disagreements with Washington do not necessarily undermine long-term U.S. interests. The Bush administration would not have welcomed unified, assertive European opposition to its plan to invade Iraq, but such opposition might have convinced Washington to allow more time for diplomats and weapons inspectors to complete their work—thereby possibly avoiding significant loss of American blood, treasure, and international credibility.
Nowhere to Hide
Now that the Lisbon Treaty has entered into force, nearly a decade of EU obsession with institutional reform has ended. For many years, arduous negotiations over treaties and the EU’s decision- making process served as useful excuses for poor EU performance on many issues. During our tenures in the U.S. government, we were struck by how often member states criticized EU institutions (especially the European Commission) in order to deflect criticism of their own leadership. But now, as Philip Stephens of the Financial Times has written, there is “nowhere to hide: no more excuses about institutional overload to drag heels about enlargement; no more blaming an inept rotating president for fumbling Europe’s relationships with the wider world; no more prevarication about how to handle conflicts and threats in its own neighborhood.” The EU must now look outward, at the world’s challenges, rather than inward, at its own restructuring.
If the EU has fallen short of its potential in the past, it is because member states’ national governments have wanted it to. The Lisbon Treaty’s improved procedures and institutions can only supplement—not substitute for—political will and leadership. The treaty’s promise will remain unfulfilled if member states seek foreign policy consensus only at the lowest common denominator, jealously hold on to their national perspectives, or make EU appointments based not on the international standing of the candidates but on their nationality, political affiliation, or gender.
If European leaders fail to make full use of the Lisbon Treaty’s potential, they will consign Europe to the sidelines of world events, with the United States and emerging giants such as Brazil, China, and India overshadowing it. Even while maintaining its bilateral channels with individual member states, Washington can play a modest role in encouraging the EU to speak and act as one whenever possible. U.S. officials should, for instance, tell the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party that the best way to preserve a strong Anglo-American relationship is to engage fully in the European integration project.
The significance of the Lisbon Treaty should not be measured only according to the highest benchmarks, such as whether it could have ensured a common EU policy during the wars in the Balkans and Iraq. History has shown that better EU decision-making procedures improve the speed and quality of the decisions themselves and that it takes time for institutions to reach their full potential. The Lisbon Treaty may not compensate for strongly divergent views or a lack of political will among the EU’s member states. But it will promote coherence and effectiveness when consensus is possible. Its welcome and significant effects will prove to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.