[Source: Euromove weekly email bulletin [log in to unmask]]
European leaders have reached agreement on the issues necessary to pave the
way for enlargement of the EU.
The summit agreed to extend qualified majority voting to 29 policy areas and
six personnel appointments that previously required unanimity. However, it
has not been extended to the politically sensitive areas of taxation and
social security, immigration and border controls, culture, broadcasting,
health and education.
The summit agreed to reweight votes of member states. Germany, France,
Britain and Italy will each have 29 votes in the Council of Ministers. Each
currently has 10. Spain and Poland will both have 27 votes. Romania will
have 15 votes. The Netherlands gets 13. Greece, the Czech Republic, Belgium,
Hungary and Portugal will each have 12. Sweden, Bulgaria and Austria each
get 10. Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania will have seven
each. Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus and Luxembourg will have four. Malta
will have three.
In 2005, the big countries -- Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain --
will lose their second Commissioner. Each new member state will have one
commissioner until there are 27 EU member states. Then leaders will set a
permanent cap of fewer than 27. Once the ceiling has been fixed, Commission
seats will be filled by rotation among member states.
The veto will stay on tax matters, including laws and regulations of the
member states concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of
indirect taxation and for direct taxation. This refutes the anti-European
myth that Europe is heading for tax harmonisation.
The European leaders agreed to hold another IGC in 2004, explicitly to
define the limits of EU integration to prevent unnecessary centralisation
and to consider the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making. It
will not be about creating a superstate.
European leaders have agreed a new rapid reaction force for Europe. This
force will only be deployed for peacekeeping where NATO is not involved and
with the leaders agreeing specific numbers and types of operation. The
report agreed at Nice explicitly stated, "this does not involve the
establishment of a European army."