Author`s name Pravda.Ru

EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT IN NICE: THE RICH GET FATTER AND THE POOR GET THINNER

The objective of this summit was to prepare the path for enlargement of the European Union eastwards. The basic question is: “Was this objective achieved?” The answer: “Yes, but…” What was seen in Nice was a frenzy of negotiations as each country tried to defend its national interests instead of adopting a single, European position. The larger countries saw their power increased but the smaller ones did not lose their influence totally. What was attempted was to give countries voting power according to their populations, as can be seen in the table below. It was basically an agreement from which everyone could go home and claim victory to their national parliaments, or at least not defeat, but the victory was a Pyrrhic one. What was intended was a simplification of the voting process, making it simpler and easier to pass laws. What was achieved was an undeniable complication of this process and certainly in the future, there will have to be another conference to do what Nice failed. Until now, a measure for law only had to obtain 71% of the votes in the Council of Ministers to be passed (each country then had powers of veto or opting-out clauses if cases of national importance were put in question). After Nice, many measures will have to pass three barriers: 255 votes out of 342, but only if these represent 62% of the total EU population and also only if the measure is voted by a majority of member-states. The Future Tables are as follows, after the Nice Summit:

Current 15 member-states

Country votes population (million) MEP

Germany 29 82.04 99

United Kingdom 29 59.25 74

France 29 58.97 74

Italy 29 57.61 74

Spain 27 39.39 52

Netherlands 13 15.76 25

Greece 12 10.53 20

Belgium 12 10.21 20

Portugal 12 9.98 20

Sweden 10 8.85 18

Austria 10 8.08 17

Denmark 7 5.31 13

Finland 7 5.16 13

Ireland 7 3.74 12

Luxemburg 4 0.43 6

New Candidates votes population (m) MEP

Poland 27 38.67 52

Romania 15 22.49 35

Czech Republic 12 10.29 20

Hungary 12 10.09 20

Bulgaria 10 8.23 17

Slovakia 7 5.39 13

Lithuania 7 3.70 12

Latvia 4 2.44 8

Slovenia 4 1.98 7

Estonia 4 1.45 6

Cyprus 4 0.75 6

Malta 3 0.38 5 *MEP = Members of the European Parliament The EU is still very much a loose collection of individual states and is as far from being a federation as one could imagine. However, the door is now officially open for enlargement, the rules are written and approved and now for the next step. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda.Ru, Lisbon