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Monday, 11 December, 2000, 15:58 GMT
Eastern Europe applauds Nice deal
A reporter takes a nap awaiting breakthrough
The summit was gruelling - not just for EU leaders
Eastern European states have welcomed the outcome of the European Union's Nice summit as an important step towards the unification of the continent.

Prodi: Had hoped for more
Prodi: Had hoped for more
Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said the deal, which paves the way for EU enlargement, was a "significant step towards the goal of European unity".

Other states, such as Poland and Estonia, said they were optimistic of joining the EU by 2003.

However, correspondents say the summit made little progress towards the key goal of simplifying EU decision-making, before new members make the organisation more cumbersome than it already is.


The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said: "I cannot hide from you a certain regret that we did not manage to go further."

Costas Simitis: Now harder for EU to make decisions
Costas Simitis: Now harder for EU to make decisions
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, also said he would have liked to have seen more come out of the summit.

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the Nice agreements could make the EU less capable of making decisions.

"It could make it more difficult for the European Union to work, because it creates further conditions in decision-making," he said, pointing out that under the new rules for qualified majority voting it took only three big countries and one smaller one to block any decision.

The Dutch Prime Minister, Wim Kok, said he was disappointed that there had not been more progress in abolishing powers of veto, and expanding the areas subject to qualified majority voting.

Enlargement hopes

A number of smaller states are bristling at the larger states' insistence on gaining extra power, in what Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres described as a "coup d'etat by the big member states".

New voting allocation

France, Germany, Italy, UK : 29

Spain: 27
Netherlands: 13
Belgium, Greece, Portugal: 12
Sweden, Austria: 10
Denmark, Finland, Ireland: 7
Luxembourg: 4
But the accession states whether small or large, appeared to be enthusiastic.

The draft treaty expresses the "hope" that new members will be able to participate in the next European elections in 2004, which presupposes that they will already be members by that time.

The Polish Prime Minister, Jerzy Buzek, said he was confident that his country - the biggest of the accession states - would join in 2003.

"The results of the summit are exceptionally good for us," he said, referring to the weighting of votes in the Council of Ministers, in which Poland stands to have the same strength as Spain.

"We secured a genuinely strong position, which we can enjoy once we are in the European Union."

Summit outcome

The summit, the longest and one of the hardest-fought in the EU's history, lasted for four days, culminating in an 18-hour sitting.

Qualified Majority Voting hurdles
62 votes out of 87
255 votes out of 345
Half of member states
62% of EU population

Veto powers were abolished in 39 areas of decision-making, and were replaced by a complicated system of qualified majority voting.

The voting strengths of each member country were modified to better reflect the difference in population size between large and small countries.

A decision was taken to oblige larger countries to give up their second EU commissioner by 2005, and to cap the total size of the commission at 27.

"The smaller countries have lost out"
UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook
"We removed the vetos of other countries"
Spokesman for the Belgian PM, Alain Gerlache
"We are disappointed in this treaty"

Key stories



See also:

11 Dec 00 | UK Politics
07 Dec 00 | Nice summit glossary
11 Dec 00 | Europe
11 Dec 00 | Europe
11 Dec 00 | Media reports
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