Nieuwe voorstellen voor stemweging in Raad van Ministers (en)
Auteur: | By Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Irish EU Presidency is gearing itself up for the first collective discussion by member states on Monday (24 May) on the contentious question of a new voting system in the Constitution.
A document circulated to EU governments by Dublin yesterday evening (20 May) draws some tentative conclusions about where a final compromise might lie on the issue - over which talks collapsed last December.
The document states that while many countries support the new double majority voting system - based on a threshold of member states combined with a threshold of EU population - no consensus will be found on the current thresholds in the draft Constitution.
These suggest that a decision is taken when supported by 50% of member states representing 60% of the EU population.
However, that has been flatly rejected by Spain and Poland as it would mean that Europe's big three - the UK, France and Germany - could form a blocking minority on any decisions they did not like.
Madrid would like the population threshold raised so that it would be much easier for it - as a medium-sized country - to block a decision it did not want.
It recently suggested the bar be raised to 66%.
Raising the thresholds of both the member states and the population appears to be the way the Irish Presidency is thinking as well.
Its document suggests that "consensus will not be secured without raising the population threshold".
Dublin also suggests that the gap between the population and the member states threshold should not be greater than already contained in the draft Constitution (10%).
And while the paper makes no mention of a specific figure it may indicate that member states are heading towards a compromise already mooted whereby a majority would consist of 55% of member states representing 65% of the population.
This could be accompanied by restrictions - also already floated - such as those states blocking a decision would have to represent at least 15% of the EU population and at least four member states would be required for a blocking minority.
Only when everything is agreed
However, discussions in Brussels among foreign mininsters on Monday are not set to illicit agreement among member states.
This is only likely to come when governments see the whole institution package: how many commissioners there will be in the future; what the minimum number of seats in the European Parliament is; and the new voting system.
Earlier this week, the Irish Presidency urged "patience" on the Constitution negotiations saying it will not be rushed into producing a global proposal until it is absolutely sure it will be accepted by all member states.
EU Foreign ministers will meet on Monday, and once more in June. EU leaders, meanwhile, will meet on 17-18 June in Brussels where it is hoped they will wrap the whole thing up.