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Monday, 11 December, 2000, 13:04 GMT
Nice agreement at-a-glance
Finalised by EU leaders, the lengthy and complicated revision of the way the European Union takes decisions now awaits ratification in each of the 15 member states and assent in the European Parliament.

  • Commission size

    The summit agreed to limit the size of the European Commission, with each large country giving up its second seat in the EU executive body by 2005.

    Once there are 27 members, nations will take turns serving on the Commission.

    The powers of the Commission president will be strengthened, effectively enabling him or her to sack commissioners.

  • Voting

    Individual country vetoes in which one country could stand aside from the rest on policies it objected to, will be replaced by majority voting in several areas, which means they will have to comply if the vote is against them.

    But also there is room for members most eager for closer integration to move ahead if they wish while others stand aside.

    Under the adopted formula for qualified majority voting (QMV), Germany, Britain, France and Italy will each have 29 votes in an expanded union.

    Spain will have 27; the Netherlands, 13; Greece, Belgium and Portugal, 12; Sweden and Austria, 10; Denmark, Finland and Ireland, seven; and Luxembourg, four.

    Of the candidate countries, Poland - the largest by far - is to have 27 votes; Romania, 14; the Czech Republic and Hungary, 12; Bulgaria, 10; Slovakia and Lithuania, 7; Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, and Cyprus, four; and Malta, three.

    President Chirac
    President Chirac: The agreement would go down in history
    There will be an extension of QMV to trade negotiations, certain aspects of visa, asylum and immigration policy five years after the Nice treaty comes into force.

    Majority voting will be used to decide structural spending for the EU's poorest regions from 1 January, 2007.

  • Vetoes

    National vetoes remain on taxation and social security questions after UK and Swedish opposition.

    National vetoes also stay on trade negotiations involving cultural and audio-visual issues, human health and education services after French pressure to keeps its cultural "exceptions".

    The Commission will be forced to consult regularly with a committee of member states' representatives when it is conducting international trade negotiations.

  • Moving ahead

    Groups of member states will be able to launch new policies before other members are ready or willing to do so, a move dubbed "enhanced co-operation".

  • Defence

    Defence and military issues will be excluded after heavy UK, Irish, Swedish, Finnish and Austrian opposition.

  • Next steps

    New intergovernmental talks will start in 2004 to define precise powers of national governments and EU institutions.


  • Key stories

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    See also:

    07 Dec 00 | Nice summit glossary
    05 Dec 00 | Business
    11 Dec 00 | Politics
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