European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi have called on the ‘naysayers’ to drop their resistance to institutional reforms ahead of a decisive EU Summit on 21-22 June.
Following a visit to Warsaw on 4-5 June 2007, Pöttering said that he was optimistic of finding common ground on key elements of a new EU Treaty, ahead of the Brussels June Summit, saying that he was “certain that problems can be resolved”.
Poland and the Czech Republic currently still oppose institutional reforms – the changes to the voting system is a particular sticking point for the two countries. Poland argues that the proposed “double majority” voting system, which requires 55% of member states and 65% of the EU’s population, gives too much weight to larger member states, such as Germany, and represents a disadvantage for smaller countries.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski had stated earlier this month that he would “die” for changes to the voting system that would give more weight to smaller member states.
Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister and Former Commission President Romano Prodi told French radio Europe 1 on 3 June that he judged that there were “good chances” of striking a deal at the June Summit. Otherwise, he said, the EU would have to move on without Poland and the Czech Republic, “but always leaving the door open” for the two to catch up at a later stage.
The debate on a multi-speed Europe has been around since Jacques Delors and later Valéry Giscard d’Estaing put forward the idea of creating a “core Europe”. The supporters argue that in an increasingly heterogeneous Union, it allows for those who wish to further integrate to push ahead without being held back by the lowest common denominator. Others criticise that this approach would endanger the EU’s unity and warn of a “pick-and-choose Union”.
A multi-speed Europe already exists for the common currency and the Schengen zone. However, it remains unclear how opt-outs on institutional reform could work.