The Lisbon Treaty is expected to take a key step towards becoming law across the European Union this week when Germany's highest court rules that it is broadly compatible with the country's constitution.
The much-anticipated judgment will mean that only three out of the EU's 27 member states will still have to complete formal ratification of the treaty - Poland, the Czech Republic and Ireland.
The former two countries merely need their presidents' signatures on the legislation to finalise the process. Ireland, where voters rejected the Treaty last year, will stage a new referendum in October - with the government increasingly confident of a "Yes" vote this time round after the EU assured Ireland of its independence over taxation, security, defence, abortion, and workers' rights.
Politicians across Europe are now looking forward to a day when the controversial treaty gives the EU more streamlined institutions - with greater central power and, for the first time, a new "President of Europe" to represent all the member states around the world.
In Britain, the government has refused demands for a referendum - despite a pledge in Labour's 2005 general election manifesto to hold a public vote on the Lisbon Treaty's predecessor, the European Constitutional Treaty, which collapsed after being voted down in France and the Netherlands.
Recently, however, it has been the Conservatives who have faced difficulties on the treaty. Both David Cameron and William Hague, the Eurosceptic shadow foreign secretary, have publicly pledged that, even if the treaty completes its ratification process in October with an Irish "Yes" vote, they "will not let matters rest."
Kenneth Clarke, the pro-Brussels shadow business secretary, stirred up a hornets' nest by claiming that his party's "settled policy" was not to reopen the treaty once it became law. His comments led to Mr Cameron privately reassuring Tory backbenchers that the party was not softening its tough line on Europe, as revealed by The Sunday Telegraph last week.
Internal Tory troubles over Europe were also heightened last week when the party announced details of its new allies in a new "anti-federalist" group in the European parliament which sees the Tories sitting alongside politicians from a range of parties - mainly from Eastern Europe - some of which have uncomfortable views on homosexual rights and immigration.
The group represents eight countries - above the seven-nation threshold required to receive funding and staffing from the parliament.
The announcement was made on the same day as the election of the new Speaker of the House of Commons - attracting criticism that Mr Cameron was seeking to divert attention away from his new alliance in Strasbourg.
Last week a Finnish Euro-MP pulled out of the 55-strong grouping, which includes 26 Tories and is expected to be the fourth biggest alliance in the newly elected parliament, because some of its members were "too extreme."
Hannu Takkula told The Sunday Telegraph that his British colleagues were not the problem and added: "Some other groups have policies that are too extreme and policies that are too much against Europe."
Two of the parliamentary grouping's members used to belong to the far-right League of Polish Families, which supports capital punishment, and whose youth wing has been accused of attacking gay rights marches. Another MEP in the group, from Latvia, belongs to a party which supports an annual march commemorating former Latvian members of the Waffen-SS.
While the Tories ponder their uncomfortable new European bedfellows, leaders of some of Europe's separatist movements are celebrating the progress of the treaty towards full ratification. They are convinced that the more powerful the EU's own institutions become, the weaker the nation state - and the stronger the case for granting breakaway regions their independence.
The European Union has always had a strong hold over regional policy - including supplying funding - and regional leaders across the continent sense a fresh shift towards breakaways. Regions will have, for example, powers to challenge decisions at the European Court of Justice for the first time, rights which have so far been the preserve of national parliaments. Some 300 different regions already have offices in Brussels.
As well as these greater powers, the proliferation of even smaller states among some of the EU's newer members - including Slovakia and Slovenia - is encouraging those fighting for local independence elsewhere.