The Treaty of Nice and the Distribution of Votes in the Council – Voting Power Consequences for the EU after the Oncoming Enlargement
The IGC 2000 had the objective to prepare the European Union for the enlargement. The aim of the present paper is to evaluate the Nice solution of the Council's decision-making rules from the perspective of the decision on the number of candidate countries which should join the EU in 2004, as proposed by the Brussels European Council in October 2002 and approved by the Copenhagen European Council last December. The evaluation is based on the comparison of the Nice solution with all the relevant proposals, which were presented to the IGC 2000. The results bring an assessment of the voting power effect of both the Nice rules and the proposals. The reason for this comparison consists in the fact that these proposals represented the spectrum of approaches considered as plausible, during the last IGC and some of them much earlier. Since ten designated candidate countries should be regular participants of the next IGC and since these proposals might be picked up again if the question of decision-making rules in the Council is reopened by the next IGC, the question of respective voting power consequences of the proposals for the EU25 should be answered. The method used for evaluation of voting power consequences of individual solutions is based on the Banzhaf index. The comparison leads to the conclusions that the distribution of voting power in the Council after enlargement to 25 members will be more even in terms of equitable representation of population of the member countries than most of other solutions proposed to the IGC, but is far from optimal as it disadvantages a group of smaller members to a greater degree than it disadvantages the most populous countries. Another conclusion is that the population criterion will not influence the voting power of member states after oncoming enlargement and would not be effective in any other dual weighted majority solution.
Nice Treaty; enlargement; qualified majority; Council of Ministers; IGC 2000; political science
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