Since the commencement of European integration in the 1950s, the EU has undergone five major treaty changes that have deepened integration. Its combination of inter-governmentalism and supranationalism, which, underpinned by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, renders the European integration project unique amongst other regional projects such as ASEAN, APEC, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or Mercosur. The supranational elements of the EU have meant that member states have pooled and transferred competences in areas such as monetary, competition and commercial policies on a permanent basis to the EU institutions. Thus, once decisions are taken collectively within these areas (usually through QMV), member states are obliged to implement these decisions, rather than act independently. Since its inception, the nature of European integration has also changed. Initially it was essentially regarded as a peace project aimed at bringing about the reconciliation of France and Germany (Mayer 2015). It soon, however, became an instrument for economic cooperation, and is now an entity that is designed not only to manage economic interdependence and the challenges of globalisation, but a regional actor attempting to shape external conditions through a web of regional governance structures (Moxon-Browne 2015). Based on the assumption that most states are too weak or too interdependent with other states to manage the challenges brought about by globalisation on their own, new policies have been developed at the European level. The EU has implemented a large number of common policies under the broad remit of human security,

ranging from immigration and counterterrorism to police cooperation, which was beyond the purview of the EU two decades ago. At the same time, however, in its attempts to revitalise European economies, member states have been unwilling to abandon national efforts with regard to policies on research, innovation and technology (with the exception of some funding mechanisms for example). The process of European integration has not been without its challenges for the EU. There have been numerous times where the path to further integration has been obstructed by the EU’s member states. This includes attempts to draft a constitutional treaty in 2002-2004 in response to further EU enlargement and its subsequent rejection by key founding EU member states (France and the Netherlands), which triggered animated debates on the future direction of the EU. The experience within the EU has demonstrated that integration, in whatever form, only works if it provides added value to what nation states can do alone. In addition, it must ensure that EU citizens look upon EU institutions in the same way that they look upon their national systems with the requisite legitimacy, transparency and accountability. The EU (2014) has described its most recent treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, as providing the Union with ‘the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens’ demands’ and thus drive the EU forward. The changes contained in the Lisbon Treaty such as enhancing the legislative power of the European Parliament, an enhanced role for the national parliaments and the citizens’ rights to initiate policy reforms are intended to make the Union more democratic and transparent. Other changes such as providing the Union with a legal personality, and the creation of two new positions – that of an appointed President of the European Council and the double-hatted High Representative for the Union in Foreign Affairs and Security Policy supported by a European External Action Service (EEAS) – are intended to provide the frameworks and tools necessary to render the EU a coherent actor on the world stage, and to protect and promote the Union’s values. Although the treaty does not fundamentally change the EU’s institutional system, it contains new elements such as the provision for clearer division of power and competences, new voting methods, and the extension of QMV to more policy areas, all of which are supposed to make the Union more efficient and effective. At the same time, it also contains numerous safeguard mechanisms to limit the further erosion of the member states’ control over what is decided in terms of new EU legislation or budgetary commitments. The QMV, while extended to many more areas, is also provided with mutual blocking mechanisms and ‘emergency brakes’, and national parliaments are provided the opportunity to object to new legislation in order to prevent a further erosion of national competences to the EU level. The Lisbon Treaty also reaffirms the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.