Optimisme over stemweging in Grondwet (en)
Auteur: | By Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Following yet another meeting on the EU constitution by EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (24 May), there were some signs of movement on the controversial question of a new voting system.
Speaking after the meeting, which saw no formal conclusions, Irish foreign minister Brian Cowen said: "I think this issue can be resolved".
However, he refused to drawn on the exact way in which the Irish EU Presidency is going to jump on the so-called double majority voting system which proposes that a decision is taken when supported by a certain percentage of member states representing a certain percentage of EU citizens.
After the meeting, it was clear that agreement on the current Constitution text - which proposes 50% and 60% respectively is very unlikely - but that the double majority system has generally been accepted by all member states.
During the meeting, diplomats said that several small and medium-sized countries called for parity between the two percentages - either 50%-50% or 60%-60%.
Bigger countries such as Germany, France and the UK want to stick as near to the original proposal as possible - as this makes it easier for them to block decisions they do not like.
Simplicity versus efficiency
Much of the debate comes down to whether a more transparent (but inefficient) system will triumph over a complex (but efficient) one - or vice verse.
"As you move up the key on the population threshold proposal, obviously the higher the threshold - it can be easier for the bigger states to block", said Mr Cowen.
This would mean having to introduce some sort of compensatory mechanism for small member states - making the system much more complex.
However, sticking with parity - 50% -50% or 60% -60% - is not without its problems either.
"That has an effect on your efficiency and taking decisions", says Mr Cowen.
"So it depends where you are along the spectrum, it can be a help or a hindrance," said Mr Cowen summing up the dilemma facing the Irish Presidency.
Not giving anything away
While saying that member states had agreed a "modest increase" on the minimum number of seats in the European Parliament and that agreement was nearing on the European Parliament's powers over the European budget, the Irish Presidency was very careful not to give any concrete indications of where the final institutional compromise might lie.
When asked to be more forthcoming, Mr Cowen only said "I could give you a good story and blow myself out of the water - that wouldn't be very sensible would it".
Dublin is set to wait until the last moment - just before EU leaders meet on 17-18 June -to make their proposal.
"It is very delicate" said one diplomat.
Earlier on in the day, European Parliament representative Elmar Brok said "I think they only have one shot in their locker".