How the EU Treaties are modified

Briefing 30-08-2022

With the Conference on the Future of Europe now at an end, a new phase has started: that of following up on the more than 320 recommendations it produced. This process is however a complicated one. Legally, ways to implement the Conference's recommendations may require changes to the European Union (EU) Treaties, which is a complex and challenging process. Politically, debating how to implement reforms and deciding to what extent to modify the EU legal system may require intense negotiations. The current EU Treaties, which are the fruit of successive reforms occurring over the last 35 years, may be modified only according to a complex set of procedures. The ordinary revision procedure may be used to amend any part of the Treaties, including the modifications of the institutional set up and of the Union's competences. The simplified revision procedure may only be used to modify limited areas of EU policies – namely Title III of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – or the Council's decision-making rules. The recommendations issued by the Conference on the Future of Europe and the recent international crises and political developments might provide an impulse for a deeper reform of the EU, as the European Parliament has suggested in several resolutions. Whether a deeper reform will be attempted depends however on the political will of the national governments, which hold the power to decide on whether to engage in a revision of the Treaties and, ultimately, on the content of the reforms.