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The Draft Constitutional Treaty’s Voting Reform Dilemma. CEPS Policy Brief No. 44, November 2003 (With Postscript of 7 December 2003)

Baldwin, Richard and Widgren, Mika. (2003) The Draft Constitutional Treaty’s Voting Reform Dilemma. CEPS Policy Brief No. 44, November 2003 (With Postscript of 7 December 2003). [Policy Paper]

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    [Introduction]. The ongoing Intergovernmental Conference (IGC 2003) must re-shape Giscard d’Estaing’s draft into a Constitutional Treaty that can be signed and subsequently ratified by all 25 members of the enlarged European Union. Things are not going well. The most obvious sticking point concerns the reform of voting rules in the EU’s key decisionmaking body, the Council of Ministers. Here is the problem. As it turns out, the voting scheme that Giscard d’Estaing’s Praesidium put into the draft Constitutional Treaty is not politically acceptable to all EU members (it concentrates power in the hands of the four largest EU members at the expense of Spain, Poland and many small members). Indeed, Giscard’s system is so impolitic that any draft Constitutional Treaty that contains it will almost certainly fail to garner the necessary unanimous support. Yet, if the ongoing IGC does not find an alternative to Giscard’s system, the EU will face decision-making paralysis because the fallback position is the blotched voting system from the Nice Treaty. Hence the dilemma: papering over problems with Giscard’s unpopular voting rules puts the whole draft Constitutional Treaty at risk, but failing to agree an alternative voting scheme risks decision-making paralysis. In this policy brief, we summarise the findings of our research that uses the quantitative tools of voting game theory to show: Why Giscard’s scheme is politically unacceptable to many nations; How various modified voting rules may solve the dilemma. Specifically we identify two possible solutions to the dilemma. First, changing Giscard’s double-majority thresholds from 60% of population and 50% of membership to 60% and 60% respectively would go a very long way to reducing the concentration of power in the hands of the four largest nations (‘Big-four’), yet still maintain the EU’s ability to act; a ratio of 50%-50% would also work. Second, if the IGC decides to stay with the Nice Treaty’s triplemajority voting system, modestly lowering two of the three majority thresholds would maintain efficiency without further shifting power to big nations. Before turning to possible solutions, the first task is to show that the Nice voting reforms will not work, and, in the process, to show why Spain and Poland are so attached to the Nice system.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Treaty reform > IGC 2003-4
    EU policies and themes > Treaty reform > Constitution for Europe
    Countries > Spain
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > Council of Ministers
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Countries > Poland
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels) > CEPS Policy Briefs
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2004
    Page Range: p. 20
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:20

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