01 Jul 2004

Council Voting in the Constitutional Treaty: Devil in the Details

Richard Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief of Vox.eu.org / Mika Widgren

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The June 2004 EU summit failed to solve the enlarged EU’s decision-making problems. Although the Constitutional Treaty’s double-majority voting rules would have maintained the enlarged EU’s ability to act, the botched Nice Treaty rules will continue to govern the Council’s decision-making up to November 2009. This failure will have important consequences since the Council, Commission and Parliament must make many tough decisions in the next five years and this will be extremely difficult under Nice Treaty voting procedures. Most importantly, these five years will be decisive in forming the public’s opinion on the enlarged EU. If the next five years see a series of deadlocks, bitter disputes and missed deadlines, EU citizens are likely to grow ever more disenchanted with the endeavour – and the position of the Eurosceptics ever stronger. Regardless of whether the Constitutional Treaty becomes law, the Nice Treaty rules will be in force during the critical, formative years of the new EU. In this sense, the most pressing task facing EU leaders is not to get the Constitutional Treaty ratified – it is to fix the Nice rules without a treaty change.