Thursday

9th Apr 2020

Berlin mulls compromise on EU Constitution

Berlin is considering a compromise on the key issue of vote weighting in a future EU - the topic that caused talks on the Constitution to fail last December.

According to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sontagszeitung, the German government is considering agreeing to changing the threshold criteria for a decision to be reached under the new Constitution.

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Currently, the draft Constitution suggests that 50% of member states representing 60% of EU citizens is needed for a decision to be taken.

Small- and medium-sized member states - particularly Poland and Spain - have been strongly opposed to the new system fearing it means large member states can run roughshod over them in important decisions.

This new so-called 'double majority' system also sees Warsaw and Madrid a lot less better off than under the current Nice Treaty.

Change of tone

However, the German government, which has steadfastly defended the double majority system, is reportedly thinking about changing the thresholds to accommodate smaller countries' fears.

The idea being bandied about is lowering the population criterion (from 60%) and raising the number of countries threshold (from 50%).

If the reports turn out to be the official position of the German government it would substantially alter the tone and nature of the discussion on the Constitution.

It may also give the general push towards an overall compromise that the Irish EU Presidency is hoping to secure before a crucial meeting of EU leaders later this month.

Progress

Another signal of a more public commitment to the Constitution was a joint letter sent by UK prime minister Tony Blair and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi to the Irish Presidency last week.

In it they stress that they "are determined to work constructively towards a satisfactory and ambitious agreement" and hope that it will be concluded during the Irish Presidency.

On top of this, a change in Spain's leadership following general elections at the end of the week - José Maria Aznar has said he will step down - may also alter the tone of the debate around the Constitution.

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