"In the 15th century Portuguese sailors used to set sail from Lisbon to explore the still uncharted waters of the world, said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, speaking ahead of a visit to Lisbon today (1 December). "Today we are living in a new globalised world but we Europeans have a new chart to guide us - the Lisbon Treaty."
"The Treaty of Lisbon represents an increase in democracy and efficiency in the European Union. The treaty gives a huge boost to the powers of the directly-elected European Parliament [...] The treaty gives the EU a set of tools to tackle more effectively the key concerns of citizens," Buzek added.
Joseph Daul, chairman of the European People's Party (EPP) group, said he wants "the Council to work more closely than in the past with the Parliament, which as of now has an equal legislative role on all subjects, including the budget".
"The Lisbon Treaty marks an important turning point in the evolution of the European institutions and the relations they will now have with each other," he added.
Speaking in Madrid, where he is engaged in two days of talks with the Spanish government - which will take over the rotating presidency of the EU in January - Socialists and Democrats (S&D) leader Martin Schulz said: "The new treaty gives people the power to push for the Europe they want. It also sweeps away Eurosceptic claims that the EU is unaccountable."
"First, elected members of the European Parliament will decide laws for Europe in conjunction with government ministers. The Parliament from today on has a new significance in people's lives," he said.
"Second, national MPs have a defined role in EU affairs and it is now up to them to exercise that responsibility fully," Schulz stressed.
"Third, through a new citizens' initiative, everyone has the opportunity to demand the drafting of legislation by presenting a million signatures in favour of a proposal," he concluded.
"It has been a long and winding road from Laeken to Lisbon but I am very pleased we have finally arrived, albeit somewhat tired and bruised from the journey," said Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group leader Guy Verhofstadt, who started the process of revising the treaties in December 2001 at the Laeken summit as prime minister of Belgium and president-in-office of the European Union.
"The lessons learned along the way have been painful but necessary in preparing the Union for the future challenges ahead and in demonstrating that we can no longer take for granted a positive acceptance, in the minds of the public, of the value of the EU in bringing countries together in closer cooperation," Verhofstadt added.
Andrew Duff MEP, ALDE group spokesperson on institutional matters, said: "Today the European Union is turning an important page in its history. This is the birth of a truly parliamentary Europe. Not only does the European Parliament itself gain very significant legislative, budgetary and scrutiny powers, but the Council of Ministers gets to behave like a second chamber of the EU legislature. National parliaments, too, have a new and more important role."
"The Lisbon Treaty brings a 10 year long reform process to an end," said Greens/EFA Co-Presidents Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit. "The Greens welcome this forward step in the process of European integration. The Treaty of Lisbon was the result of a long and often difficult debate on the future of Europe."
"It is groundbreaking and indispensable, even if it represents a great deal of compromise on many points," they stressed.
"The treaty will strengthen the EU at a time when it needs strengthening and at a time when the Europeans are increasingly perceived as has-beens on the world stage," said Hugo Brady of the Centre for European Reform think-tank in London.
Daniel Gros, an analyst at the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies think-tank, said there would be many good organisational changes under the treaty but the bloc would not carry more weight in international diplomacy overnight.
"It will not be a revolution," he said. "In the first years, at least, the key challenge is not so much to resolve major crises but to make the machinery work and set precedents that are useful for later."
Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates said: "With this new treaty, Europe has overcome an impasse that lasted for several years. Europe has emerged stronger from this summit, stronger to face global issues, stronger to take its role in the world and also to increase confidence in our economy and in our citizens."
Commission President José Manuel Barroso stated: "We have a treaty that will give us now the capacity to act. Our citizens want results. They want to see in concrete terms what Europe brings them […] I believe we have a treaty that will give us now the capacity to act".
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was satisfied that his 'red lines' had been respected and that no referendum was needed on the new text: "The British national interest has been protected," he said.
Speaking to journalists prior to the Lisbon summit, he again rejected calls for a referendum on the new text, saying it was fundamentally different from the defunct EU Constitution: "Because we have a very different document with our protocol, with our opt-ins, with our emergency breaks, with all these protections for the British national interest there is no fundamental change and that is why I believe the proper way of discussing this…is parliamentary debate."
He called on EU leaders to "move from that inward-looking institutional discussion to dealing with the major challenges of jobs, prosperity, environmental security and of course security against terrorism".
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said: "We are now in a situation that recognises Italy's role in Europe. This is the end of a very long period of difficulty in European history. The EU can start again to operate in a concrete way.''
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) stated: "ETUC regrets the unambitious nature of much of the EU Reform Treaty. There was a real opportunity to revive social Europe by extending qualified majority voting and by extending the competences of the Union to control the dark side of globalisation and rampant financial capitalism. What we have instead is a series of modest adjustments to the EU’s framework of rules, which will have only a limited impact on the process of deepening Europe’s capacity to act decisively in the world."
Secretary General of the European SME employers' organisation UEAPME, Hans-Werner Müller said: "It is now time to look at the bigger picture: the Reform Treaty will increase both the room for and the speed of manoeuvre of the European institutions, and strengthen the European Union’s voice on the global arena." He added: "Europe cannot afford another slow and painful approval. EU leaders have set the ball rolling tonight – it is now up to Europe’s governments and citizens to keep up the positive momentum. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed under any circumstances."
"When you look at the detail of what has been agreed, it is clear that this is just the old EU Constitution in everything but name," Open Europe Director Neil O'Brien said. The head of the Eurosceptic UK think-tank added: "This will fool no-one. This is the same EU Constitution under a different name, and the governments must keep their promise to hold referendums."