Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

June 20th, 2004

Constitution agreed

The big news this weekend, outside of the football results, was the agreement on the EU constitution. The final fudge on the voting system for the Council of Ministers came to a complex mix of rules, although there is still some logic left to them:

A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55% of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65% of the population of the Union.

A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.

I preferred the original suggestion of 50% of Members representing 60% of the population, but it is at least an improvement over the Nice rules.

The difficult part will now to be to ratify this treaty in all member states. The UK referendum campaign is going to be difficult. I still think that a yes vote can be achieved, but it is going to take a lot more work than I had originally expected.

White flowers.The arguments being put forward for rejecting the constitution have so far been fairly weak on detail, but very strong on emotion. There seems to be a significant force trying to turn the UK referendum on the constitution into one on membership of the EU. The downsides of leaving the EU are significant, and the benefits mostly nonexistent. Access to the common market (essential to the UK economy) requires non-member countries to implement most EU laws anyway, but only membership allows significant influence over those laws.

Those campaigning to reject the constitution, and yet retain membership of the EU, are also ignoring the downsides and over stating the benefits. The constitution contains many good elements that would be lost with a rejection. The areas of EU legislation that the parliament can examine and change is greatly expanded in the constitution. The use of qualified majority voting (QMV) across more areas will make getting agreement on issues easier.

Rejection would leave the EU functioning as it does today. The issues that are currently not subject to QMV (such as Asylum and Immigration) would still need to be tackled, but the results would take longer to achieve. Democratic control of the EU would be as weak as it is now, and while the constitution isn’t exactly light reading, it is still easier to understand than the current set of treaties.

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Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

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