After the agreement by EU leaders to bring the IGC to a close by the June European Council, a Polish government official has indicated the current proposal for double majority is unacceptable for Poland.
On 25 March, EU heads of state and government signalled their "political will", as requested by the Irish Presidency (seealso EURACTIV 25 March 2004), to the objective of bringing talks over the EU Constitution to a conclusion by the June European Council. While the commitment is now there, the negotiation of the exact terms of the compromise will undoubtedly hold difficult moments.
"The 50/60 double majority formula will never be accepted by Poland," Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister Prof. Tadeusz Iwinski said at a Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) event on 26 March. The current proposals in the draft Constitutional Treaty (ie qualified majority decision making with the approval of half of the Member States representing 60 per cent of the bloc's population) "means in practice a very radical shift in power towards the most populous Member States". The idea of double majority "appeared at the very final stage of the Convention. No real debate, let alone a working group, preceded it," said Mr Iwinski (see also
The outcome of the IGC summit in December 2003 was a disappointment for Poland. Despite its displeasure with the Convention's proposals on double majority, the Polish delegation "came to Brussels with a genuine intention to negotiate". However, real negotiations did not take place due to the unwillingness by certain delegations of large Member States to reach a compromise, said the State Secretary and observer MEP. Mr Iwinski was left wondering why Poland was in the end labelled "anti-European" after being left with the one procedural issue of double majority voting open, something of great political importance to Poland. Mr Iwinski pointed out that, unlike in most of the other new Member States, the future of the EU Constitution is an important domestic political issue in Poland.
Many compromise scenarios are possible but the one Poland can accept will lie between the provisions of the Nice Treaty and the Convention's proposals on double majority (see also
EURACTIV 23 March 2004). One of the solutions Poland would be in favour of, said Mr Iwinski, is the inclusion of a revisiting clause. The task of the current IGC would be to agree two alternative systems of voting - one would be a variant of the Nice system based on weighted votes while the other would be a modified version of the Convention's double majority formula. Member States would then be asked in 2009, having tested the Nice system, to chose between the two.
Another possible scenario would be a system of full proportionality in the Parliament and a system of weighted votes in the Council resembling the German Upper House. This "solution [is] worth striving for but difficult to realise for the time being," concluded Mr Iwinski.