News – Preparation for the EU Summit next week
Brussels - By Stella Willborn
Six points on the table for further discussions
The German Presidency sent a working document to Member States listing six open issues requiring further discussion, namely: EU symbols, primacy of EU law, changes in terminology, Charter of Fundamental Rights, place of EU foreign policy, the division of powers between Brussels and Member States and the role of national parliaments.
The General Affairs Council – that is the 27 Foreign Affairs Ministers - will start meeting on Sunday in order to prepare the EU Summit next week. The document shall help to prepare the debate.
Chancellor Merkel spoke before the German Bundestag on Thursday and she underlined that a failure of the European Council would have “painful consequences”. Nevertheless, the six issues do not include the Polish main point of criticism: the voting system of the Council of the EU. At the moment it is still doubtful whether the Polish Government will turn in. After the meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, the President Lech Kacynski showed weak signs of being willing to compromise. “I am confident of finding a solution.”, the Polish President stated after the meeting. It might be that the Polish government was hoping for the French support regarding the voting system. The spokesperson for foreign affairs underlined that Sarkozy would support their initiative. During the meeting the French President expressed clearly in an interview that he is not in favor of the Polish voting system based on the square root.
Giscard d’Estaing says simplification of the treaty means mutilate the Constitution
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing published an article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” today where he pointed out why the original treaty shall not be changed. “18 Member States, which are 2/3 of all, have already ratified the original treaty and four others tend to do. This strong base should not be left aside.”, he argued. The former president of the Convention underlined that the European Union had already decided in 1992 to establish a Common Foreign and Security Policy. He warned against going backwards and re-opening the discussions over and over again.
Explaining the square roots system, proposed by the Polish government
In the draft treaty the voting system of the Council of the EU is set up as a double majority:
• 55% of the Member States (which are at least 15 out of 27) and
• 65% of the European population
This can be considered more or less as a fair system as it gives firstly every country (small, medium, big) one voice and secondly it takes into account the size of the population.
The Polish government proposed not to take into account the size population but the square root of the size of the population which flattened the spikes. In fact the countries with the highest population (Germany, Italy, France etc.) would have less weight. In contrast the middle sized countries such as Poland would win whereas the situation would hardly change for the small countries. For example if you take into account the population criteria in the draft treaty, Germany’s population would account for 17 votes (out of 100) and Poland 6. According to the square root system Poland would have 8 votes and Germany 9.