|Author (Person)||Taylor, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.16, 19.4.01, p8|
The European Parliament's largest group of MEPs is warning that it will not ratify the Nice Treaty unless EU leaders make far-reaching changes to the agreement struck last December.
The German centre-right CDU/CSU group is calling on governments to commit to major amendments to the treaty before the Belgian Presidency holds its summit in Laeken at the end of this year.
Elmar Brok, the German centre-right MEP who was the Parliament's representative in the Nice negotiations, said that the assembly will withhold judgement on the agreement until it sees what changes EU governments are prepared to sign up to. "The European Parliament will give its verdict on Nice in the light of Laeken," Brok stated.
The group's stance represents the strongest opposition to the Nice deal yet by MEPs who want to see an extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) and a simpler decision-making process when the Union expands to take in up to 12 new members.
If the Parliament fails to approve the treaty, the Belgian and Italian parliaments have pledged not to block the deal which must be ratified by all 15 national assemblies before it can come into force.
The CDU-CSU group argues that the unanimity voting rule should be scrapped in all areas relating to the internal market, competition, parts of social and tax policy, regional aid, asylum and refugee policy, tackling cross-border crime, environment and external commercial policy.
At Nice, EU leaders made only very limited progress in extending QMV to new areas with minor successes in trade policy.
The CDU-CSU also insists that EU leaders should scrap the complex system of calculating a qualified majority agreed in Nice, which allows decisions at the Council of Ministers to be blocked unless the voting represents at least 62% of the EU's total population. Instead, there should be a simple double majority scheme, it says.
The battle over the make-up of 'blocking minorities' was one of the hardest fought at Nice.
Although France refused to grant Germany an extra vote to take account of its larger population, Berlin ensured that its size would be taken account of in any deal by introducing a demographic element to the process which gives it more sway.
Brok is also calling for the Czech Republic and Hungary to be given two extra seats in the European Parliament in line with similarly-sized member states. EU leaders agreed at Nice to grant them ten MEPs - even though Belgium and Portugal, which have similar populations, will have 12 after the next elections.
The German group is also insisting that the Council of Ministers should meet in open session and should be divided into legislative and executive functions.
Brok argues that the changes his group is calling for could be made as part of the accession treaties which finalise the entry of each candidate country as part of the next wave of enlargement.
He is optimistic that other national and political groups will back the German centre-right's ultimatum over Nice, although so far the rest of the Parliament has not been prepared to take such a tough line.
The European Parliament's largest group of MEPs is warning that it will not ratify the Nice Treaty unless EU leaders make far-reaching changes to the agreement struck in December 2000. The German centre-right CDU/CSU group is calling on governments to commit to major amendments before the Belgian Presidency holds its summit in Laeken at the end of 2001.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|