Regeringskonferensen i Nice
Svenska regeringens hemsida:
about Nice -
about Nice Sunday morning -
Monday 1 -
Nice result: Seats in the European Parliament
The Man Who Wasn't There
Godmorgon - men i vilket land?
I dag, fredag, går EUs regeringskonferens i Nice in på slutvarvet, en lång helgs pratande, förhandlande och schackrande som till sist lär sluta som det alltid brukar göra: ett nytt fördrag har manglats fram och ännu några myrsteg har tagits i EUs successiva omvandling från ett mellanstatligt samarbetsorgan med vissa överstatliga inslag till en paneuropeisk statsbildning.
Romano Prodi inför
The Nice summits main job is to
open the EU to new members from the east
Rendezvous på Rivieran
Torsdagsbrev nr 23/2000, 7
Bara en ofarlig
Använd vetot i Nice
NOW ITS BLASPHEMY TO MOCK EUROPE
Superstaten i sikte?
EUROPEAN leaders will gather in Nice on December 7-9 for the biannual heads of government meeting that ends the six-month French presidency of the EU. It is intended they should agree a new treaty, on which officials have been working since February. Nice will mark another milestone towards the "ever-closer union" envisaged in the Treaty of Rome. The key arguments will centre on the retention of national vetoes and the extension of qualified majority voting; tax harmonisation; judicial co-operation; the charter of fundamental rights; and further moves towards a superstate through the development of a go-it-alone "inner core".
The Euro-army will march to the beat of a
Never underestimate new Labour's
determination to take us into the euro
If this isn't a superstate in the making,
then what is?
Blue Print for a Superstate
Anna Lindh och Margit
Gennser om Biarritz
snubs Blair over EU rights
EU Plans to Reform Decision Process Get Bogged Down in
Two days of talks between leaders of the European Union countries produced little agreement on reform of the 15-country bloc's decision-making processes, a failure that could be bad news for the countries of Eastern Europe that want to join the EU as quickly as possible.
On the structural question, differences between large and smaller countries and between Euro-skeptics and proponents of a more integrated Europe rankled at the talks on EU treaty reform. Countries such as Hungary, Slovenia and perhaps Poland would like to join as soon as 2003, but this timetable will be thrown into doubt unless EU leaders can meet a self-imposed timetable to wrap up their treaty negotiations at a second conference in Nice, France, in December.
Lionel Jospin, prime minister of France, which as holder of the EU's rotating presidency is chairing the talks, said that "it is difficult for us to evaluate the chance of reaching an agreement at Nice. But the exchange of views we have had showed there is a will to succeed."
Big and small countries are fighting over how to weight each country's votes in legislative councils and how many commissioners they will each have at the European Commission, the EU's central bureaucracy. The existing balance will be thrown out of kilter by enlargement.
The leaders also disagreed fundamentally over when individual countries should be able to block legislation supported by the majority.
Proponents of European integration, with some support from European business lobbies, argue that member governments must give up some of their rights to veto legislation in favor of a system of "qualified majority voting" -- otherwise, they argue, an enlarged EU could face permanent legislative gridlock.
Euro-skeptic countries, led by Britain, Sweden and Denmark, however, reject anything that could lead to more interference in their local affairs.
France and Germany have proposed a solution based on a "two-speed Europe," where a "pioneer" group of countries would take the lead on integration, as has already occurred with the 11 euro-zone countries and the Schengen agreement on visas. But Britain, which is outside both groups, is concerned that it could be excluded.
EU leaders also disagreed about the legal status of a proposed Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Från Biarritz till Nice
Biarritz affair FT-leader, October 13, 2000
High stakes in Biarritz
These are heady days. Europe's leaders are daring to think strategically about the future of the European Union.
First, Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, then President Jacques Chirac of France and last week Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, have presented visions of Europe's future. For the moment, at least, politics is not only about winning votes and back-room deals.
With last week's overthrow of the Milosevic regime in Serbia, European leaders have also received a resounding pay-off from last year's bold but risky war in Kosovo.
This Friday France will bring them back to earth with a bump. On October 13th the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency plays host to the 15 heads of government and Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission. They will be closeted in the gilded elegance of Biarritz casino to try to inject some urgency into the glacial negotiations on the institutional reforms the EU must undergo if it is to cope with enlargement to the east.
While they are in Biarritz, the leaders will discuss oil, the EU charter of fundamantal rights and the Balkans and the Middle East. But if France has its way, the main burden of the meeting will be the Intergovernmental Conference on reforming the EU. If all goes to plan, Friday's meeting will pave the way for a successful conclusion to the IGC at a three-day summit in Nice, starting on December 7.
Its success is by no means a foregone conclusion. After eight months of negotiations, member states are still divided on the main issues. Veterans of previous IGCs say the talks are running depressingly true to form; the landmark Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which launched economic and monetary union, and the more recent 1997 Amsterdam Treaty were both ill-tempered cliff-hangers.
The negotiations upon the Nice Treaty are of special importance, because they directly affect more countries than the EU. The IGC has been billed as enabling the EU to absorb up to 12 new members, mainly former Communist countries in eastern and central Europe.
Any faltering in Biarritz will call into question the EU's pledge to be ready for enlargement by 2003. This would fracture its increasingly tense relations with the applicants and dent an already declining enthusiasm for membership in the candidate countries.
The details of the negotiations appear arcane when measured against the historic challenge of uniting eastern and western Europe and finally overcoming the divisions of the cold war. But the EU's leaders cannot avoid the nitty gritty in Biarritz and Nice.
France hopes Friday's meeting will start to raise the leaders' awareness of the room for manoeuvre so that when negotiations near the December deadline, they will be able find the compromises necessary to avoid defeat.
Three issues were left over from the Amsterdam negotiations: to make decision-making easier by extending qualified majority voting, the future size and structure of the Commission, and the weighting of member states' votes in the EU's decision-making council of ministers. Leaders added a fourth in June, when they agreed to consider "enhanced co-operation". This would make it easier for small groups of member states to forge ahead with integration in specific areas of policy. This too was discussed in the Amsterdam negotiations.
These four points are intended to enable the EU to make decisions with double its present membership. But they pose threats to established power structures among the member states. Agreement will only be possible after politically difficult compromises.
Hopes are growing that agreement might be reached on QMV - or qualified majority voting - by December. There is a powerful logic in favour of more QMV. The difficulty of reaching unanimity is said to double with each new member. Without more QMV, an EU of 27 members would find it practically impossible to reach agreement.
France has identified 46 areas of EU policy-making where unanimity could give way to QMV, and a further three provisions that could be scrapped. But while all member states would like to see some changes in favour of QMV, none have agreed so far to give up the national veto on any specific article. The reluctance to give away negotiating positions at this stage of the talks means there will be frantic bargaining over QMV in Nice.
The strongest signal of progress has come from Pierre Moscovici, France's minister for Europe. Certain areas, such as taxation, social-security rules, justice and home affairs, and treaty change, seem certain to remain subject to unanimity. But Mr Moscovici says work on QMV is "beginning to bear fruit", while diplomats from other member states report an impressive degree of refinement of the issues in contention.
Enhanced co-operation is easier to imagine after Mr Blair's qualified acceptance of the idea in his Warsaw speech and Denmark's rejection of the euro. It is supported strongly by Germany, France and the Benelux countries. To meet British concerns and those of others, any eventual compromise would have to make clear that enhanced co-operation would not lead to an exclusive "hard core" of countries in the EU nor undermine the single market.
The arguments about the composition of the Commission and the weighting of votes are much more difficult to resolve, because national power and prestige are more directly involved. It has been accepted since Amsterdam that the EU's five biggest states - Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain - should give up their right to a second Commissioner, in return for a rejigging of votes in their favour.
But there is a stand-off between big and small states as to whether every member state should have a Commissioner. The 10 small EU members insist on one Commissioner for each member state even in an EU of up to 27 members. The bigger states, by contrast, insist on a limit to the number of commissioners in the interest of efficiency.
The weighting of votes is still more complex. Differences exist inside the big- and small-country groups, with Spain, for example, seeking parity with Italy, and the Netherlands hankering after a bigger say. Numerous formulae have been advanced. Sweden has even proposed a model that would give each member state votes "equal to double the square root of its population expressed in millions of inhabitants, rounded off to the nearest figure".
According to the Swedes, this square-root system is "completely transparent" and would have the advantage of never having to be changed. Its very complexity, however, should serve as a warning of how the negotiations could develop.
Despite the complexities, negotiators say they can see the outline of a final deal. It would involve some extension of QMV; the larger countries would give up one commissioner and offset this with an increase in their voting weights. The haggling will be about filling in "square brackets" - the details - in the final treaty text.
The problem at present, says Michel Barnier, the commissioner for institutional reform, is that: "Not all countries are working in a spirit of collective will. That is why Biarritz will be important."
If Mr Chirac can arrange for the summit to provide a much-needed jolt to Europe's leaders, Biarritz may help generate the political resolve needed for Nice to succeed.
There must be progress in Biarritz. Otherwise, the EU's leaders could find themselves heading for an acrimonious failure in December. That would throw the EU into new crisis, jeopardise its enlargement and shatter the dreams of Europe's future, proclaimed by Messrs Fischer, Chirac and Blair.
Tony Blair's vision of Europe
Yes, it is political. Tony Blair is right to recognise that taking Britain into the euro-zone will depend on building a consensus about what the European Union is for - and where it is going.
In Poland last week the prime minister joined a debate opened earlier this year by Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, and Jacques Chirac, France's president. Both have thought aloud about the longer-term changes needed to enable the EU to function effectively with a much larger membership.
Despite differences, there is important common ground between the three leaders. They all want a better definition of the division of powers between EU institutions and national governments. Mr Fischer and Mr Chirac envisage a European constitution. Mr Blair thinks the job should be done by more fluid political agreements. Mr Chirac wants a pioneer group of members to push out the boundaries of co-operation. Mr Blair has acquiesced in this idea, but with strict conditions to prevent inner groups from closing the door to others. Mr Blair and Mr Fischer both suggest a second chamber for the European Parliament, with members drawn from national parliaments.
These are important matters for debate, but they must not be allowed to create yet more confusion about the governance of the EU, nor interfere with the practical decisions that must soon be taken about majority voting and the shape of the commission. Voters would then be even more disillusioned with the EU.
Mr Blair was therefore wise to emphasise the fundamental question that must precede debate about institutional reform: what do the people of Europe believe the EU can do that their own governments could not do better?
His broad answer is that the EU must be more than a free trade area, but nothing like a super-state. It must remain a free association of sovereign nations, pooling sovereignty for common goals. Even in such general terms, a shift of focus from institutional niceties to the purpose of the union is welcome. As the referendum in Denmark and the Conservative party conference in Britain both suggested, many voters are confused or sceptical about the benefits of belonging.
The challenge for Mr Blair and for other EU leaders is therefore to develop the constitutional argument in ways that will engage the sympathy of such voters. Even among British euro-sceptics, few want divorce from the EU. They are worried rather about its remoteness and excessive tendency to interfere.
By addressing these anxieties from a vigorously pro-European stance, Mr Blair may hope to carry the debate into the ranks of more moderate sceptics. He has not come up with all the answers, but he made a good start, with all the right questions.
THE WARSAW WAY
When the Prime Minister originally decided to offer a speech on the future of the European Union this week it was to be a response to the debate opened by Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, and then by President Chirac earlier this year. The referendum in Denmark and the revolution in Serbia have transformed the context in which Tony Blair delivered his address. He spoke only passingly of Denmark - it does not suit him to concede in public how much that ballot might affect British politics - but he waxed lyrically on Serbia. Although events in Belgrade overshadowed this address yesterday, they should ultimately serve to assist many aspects of the argument that Mr Blair wishes to advance.
Much of this speech was devoted to the enlargement of the European Union. Although, as the Prime Minister correctly noted, there is no legitimate excuse for delay here, he will be painfully aware that many other member states have lost all passion for this project. Britain should be the country that attempts to restore the lost momentum. Mr Blair's call for a "specific framework leading to an early end of the negotiations and accession" with the objective of ensuring a new round of members by 2004 is right in principle. He needs consistently to remind his partners that without enlargement, in his words, "Western Europe will always be faced with the threat of instability, conflict and mass migration on its borders".
A larger European Union will need to be a different European Union. Mr Blair put forward a host of proposals wrapped in pro-European language but often designed to strengthen national parliaments and governments. His ambition to enhance the role of the Council of Ministers is worthwhile, as is the notion of "team presidencies" rather than the rotating presidencies of the present era. The idea of a European "Statement of Principles", rather than a formal EU constitution, to be enforced by a second chamber of a European Parliament, is exploratory and will need detailed consideration.
Mr Blair hopes that a statement of principles would be a "political, not a legal document". This may be hoping too much. The most significant part of his text might, though, prove to be his shift in emphasis on "enhanced" or "reinforced" co-operation. Mr Blair has previously appeared hostile to the idea that small groups of EU countries could agree to pursue integrationist measures among themselves while allowing less enthusiastic members to steer clear of them. He fears a loss of influence for those who remain outside. But he said yesterday that he has "no problem" with this plan provided that Britain could always join such enterprises later if it wanted and without preconditions. France and Germany should conclude that he is willing to negotiate in this area. That would be a wise approach.
The most disturbing aspect of an otherwise broadly thoughtful text involves foreign and security policy. Mr Blair's strategy appears to be that he will produce concessions to EU partners here as political recompense for remaining outside monetary union. There is obviously room for voluntary collaboration in these spheres, but the principle of a national veto needs to be defended relentlessly. The Prime Minister risks stumbling into some especially dangerous quicksand. The real task for Europe, as should be clear this weekend, is to bind together a divided continent at the fastest possible speed.
Blair wins backing for 'more powerful Europe'
TONY BLAIR heralded the advent of Europe as a world "superpower" yesterday but gave warning that that the EU should never seek to be a federal superstate.
In his most significant speech yet on the future of Europe he said a "wider and deeper" Union could be built only on the foundations of nation states.
Mr Blair said that the EU "had to wake up to the new reality" which was that the source of its legitimacy had to be based on the democratically elected governments of member states if it was to regain the trust and consent of voters.
Speaking at the Warsaw Stock Exchange in Poland, he said a series of far-reaching democratic reforms had to be agreed because the "citizens of Europe must feel that they own Europe, not that Europe owns them".
The Prime Minister said he was pressing for a "breakthrough" on the stalled enlargement process so that former Soviet Bloc countries, including Poland, could join the EU by 2004.
He made it clear that they should be joining a Europe of "free, independent sovereign nations" in a Union which was "in touch with the people, transparent and easier to understand. Such a Europe can in its economic and political strength be a super power - but not a super state."
He added that there could be groups of member states working on issues such as the fight against cross-border crime or the development of a common foreign policy, provided that at "every step such groups are open to others who wish to join".
His speech, which was littered with references to General de Gaulle and had strong echoes of Margaret Thatcher's famous Bruges speech on defending the nation state, was designed to be a response not only to last week's Danish referendum, which rejected entry into the single currency, but also the Franco-German proposals for a group of "pioneer states" pressing ahead with faster integration.
Downing Street hopes that the reform proposals will be agreed at a inter-governmental conference within the next three years and will make the prospect of Britain's own entry into the single currency more palatable to an increasingly sceptical electorate.
His speech won widespread acclaim from the European Commission. One eurocrat said: "This speech has gone down very well, particularly for its pro-European tone and commitment. It is being seen here as a very mature speech."
Another said it was "the most pro-European from a British leader" and one that would have been "unthinkable" from previous British Prime Ministers. Some of its ideas and admissions were "really ground-breaking and amazing". Commissioner Michel Barnier described the speech as confirming that "the UK is fully engaged in the future direction of the European Union".
Other EC officials said it was a mature, constructive contribution that incorporated several ideas previously floated by Romano Prodi, the Commission president. It had mentioned the Commission 11 times at a time when other member states were trying to sideline it. In a parallel speech earlier in the summer President Chirac of France failed to mention the Commission once. Mr Blair's ambition for Europe to become a "superpower" was predictably seized upon by the Tories yesterday as proof that he is now wedded to a federalist agenda.
Francis Maude, shadow foreign secretary, said: "Tony Blair has nailed his colours to the mast. How can the EU be a super power without being a super state?
"This is dangerous, grandiose stuff from the Prime Minister, it will damage our relationship with Nato, damage our relationship with the US and undermine our nation state."
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "This was a grown up politician making a grown up speech about one of the most important issues facing us today. I think it is significant that at a very important moment for Europe it is a British prime minister who has the confidence to say he is pro-Europe and pro-reform."
In his speech Mr Blair said his reforms were designed to "stop Europe focusing on things it does not need to do, the interfering part of Europe that antagonises even europe's most ardent supporters".
Mr Blair said that he did not object to the concept of "pioneer groups" but that this should not lead to the creation of a permanent "hard core" of federalist members based around the Euro-zone.
The measures involve:
Strengthening the role of the European Council of elected prime ministers and heads of state so that it "sets the agenda" for the EU with an annual programme similar to the Queen's Speech in Britain.
Changes to the current system of a revolving EU presidency in which each member state has the leadership for six months at a time. Mr Blair proposes "team presidencies", in which a mixture of large and small countries join forces to ensure "greater continuity"
Agreement on a Statement of Principles to define the dividing lines between, and responsibilities of, the EC, national and regional governments.
The creation of a second chamber of the European Parliament, which would be made up of representatives from national parliaments and would police the Statement of Principles and provide democratic oversight on common European foreign and security policy.
Reductions in the size of the European Commission because enlargement of the EU to include up to 15 more members will make the current structure "unworkable".
Blir det ett tillräckligt bra resultat vid toppmötet i Nice i december eller inte? Tysklands utrikesminister Fischer gjorde i dagarna ett försök att få igång en sådan debatt. I ett anförande vid Humboldt-universitetet i Berlin tecknade han en långt gående vision av det Europa som han vill vara med om att bygga. Och det var djärva tankar det handlade om. Ett Europaparlament med mycket mer makt och två kamrar. Så småningom en genuin europeisk regering. Och dessutom en folkvald europeisk president med vittgående befogenheter.
Confederacy to Federation - Thoughts on the finality of European integration"
Var fjortonde dag samlas två deltagare från vart och ett av EU:s femton regeringar till ett särskilt förhandlingsmöte i Bryssel. Mötena går under namnet regeringskonferensen, vilket är den form man använder när man vill förhandla fram förslag till ändringar i EU:s grundfördrag.
Sverige representeras av EU-ambassadören Gunnar Lund med UD:s förre presschef, med ambassadören Annika Söder som bisittare.
Uppdraget är att förhandla fram ett reformpaket som ska göra det möjligt för EU att fungera effektivt även efter utvidgningen från i dag 15 till i framtiden 27 medlemsländer. Bebovet av reformer är uppenbart;juflersomsitter runt bordet, desto svårare blir det att komma överens
Tre frågor står i förgrunden:
Egentligen är regeringskonferensen en bakläxa från toppmötet i Amsterdam 1997, där man misslyckades med uppfraget. Nu har man dock enats om en "deadline" till toppmötet i Nice i december, så att unionen därefter kan förverkliga målet att öppna sig för nya medlemmar.
Den svenska regeringen har samlat sin analys och sina positioner inför förhandlingen i en nyligen producerad promemoria Där finns de svenska mål som regeringens chefsförhandlare ska försöka uppnå.
Regeringen ställer sig inledningsvis bakom det övergripande målet om ett effektivt beslutsfattande i en större union.
Den logiska konsekvensen av den positionen är att man är beredd till mindre "svensk" makt som en följd av utvidgningen. "När nya medlemmar kornmer till, mister de gamla något av sitt inflytande. Det är oundvikligt". Den svenska regeringens ambition är dock att Sverige inte ska hamna i ett sämre läge än andra jämförbara länder i maktfrågorna.
Kommissionen, som är den förslagsställande "motorn" i samarbetet, består i dag av 20 ledamöter. De stora länderna Tyskland, Frankrike, Italien, Storbritannien och Spanien har två kommissionärer var, övriga länder en kommissionär (Sverige har Margot Wallström).
Kommissionen har själv föreslagit att man inför att tak för antalet ledamöter (20 stycken), som kunde kombineras med att man har rotation mellan länderna. Kommissionen kan, som alternativ, tänka sig att varje medlemsland utser en kommissionär var. I det fallet krävs dock grundliga reformer, till exempel olika stark ställning för ledamöterna.
De stora länderna har i princip accepterat att nöja sig med en kommissionär var, dock under förutsättning att länderna får ökad röstvikt i rådet.
Sverige kräver att fortsättningsvis få nominera en kommisionär med full rösträtt och eget ansvarsområde.
Alla länder bör ha den rätten, anser Sverige. Det är viktigt att det i kommssionen finns kunskap om samtliga länder. Det ökar kommissionens legitimitet och gör den starkare. Sverige vill ha en stark kommission som vakar över att fördrag och lagar efterlevs. En stark kommission utgör en motvikt mot de stora länderna och ligger därför i Sveriges intresse.
Den svenska regeringen tillbakavisar också påståenden att en kommission med 27 ledamöter inte kan fungera. Det finns regeringar i flera medlemsländer som består av 27 ledamöter eller fler, hävdar Sverige.
Röstvikter i rådet
I ministerrådet, som stiftar lagar på förslag av kommissionen, har medlemsländerna olika antal röster.
Systemet för röstviktningen kan sägas vara en framförhandlad kompromiss mellan den traditionella mellanstatliga principen "ett land, en röst" och den nationella demokratiska principen "en medborgare, en röst".
Systemet ger små länder en överrepresentation och större länder en underrepresentation.
En effekt av utvidgning med fler mindre EU-länder är att en kvalificerad majoritet av antalet röster i rådet motsvaras av en allt mindre del av EU:s samlade befolkning.
De stora länderna har därför krävt ökad röstvikt. Som ett alternativ finns förslag till vad man kallat dubbel majoritet, dvs att ett beslut kräver majoritet i rådet och att den majoriteten också representerar en majoritet av befolkningen i EU.
Den svenska regeringen är skeptisk till tanken på dubbla majoriteten. Det skulle missgynna de mindre länderna. En majoritet av länderna skulle då kunna röstas ner av en minoritet med stora befolkningar. Regeringens ambition är att bibehålla Sveriges relativa inflytande i rådet.
De svenska förhandlarna har i bakfickan ett eget förslag som bibehåller den gällande kompromissen, men som (hävdar regeringen) bygger på objektiva matematiska kriterier och därför inte behöver omförhandlas vid varje ny utvidgning.
I rådet fattas i dag beslut enligt två grundprinciper, antingen med enhällighet (varje land har veto) eller med kvalificerad majoritetsomröstning. Enhällighet krävs t ex i fördragsfrågor, skattefrågor, utrikes- och säkerhetsfrågor. Röstar gör man på de allra flesta områden av det ekonomiska samarbetet på den inre marknaden.
För att bevara effektiviteten även efter en utvidgning har kommissionen föreslagit en generell övergång til omröstning på många områden.
Sverige motsätter sig en sådan generell övergång till omröstning. Regeringen säger sig vara beredd att diskuttera reformer, men att varje enslilt fall ska bedömas utifrån sina förutsättningar. Redan i dag är det klart att Sverige vill behålla enhälligheten som huvudregel i utrikes- och säkerhetspolitiken. Sverige accepterar inte heller att släppa sitt veto i skattefrågorna.
Till toppmötet i Nice i december ska hela reformpaketet vara framförhandlat.
EU:s dokument om regeringskonferensen http://www.europa.eu.int/igc2000/index_sv.htm
Regeringens hemsida: www.utrikes.regeringen.se/eu/konferensen/reformer.htm