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banner Monday, 4 December, 2000, 15:53 GMT
Reweighting of votes
This is the proposal to change the number of votes each country has in the Council of Minister to reflect more accurately population size.

Germany, France, Britain and Italy are currently all lumped together as equal with 10 votes each, despite the fact that Germany has 82 million voters, while France, Italy and Britain all have populations of just under 60 million.

Luxembourg has two Council votes even though its population is only 400,000.

With enlargement on the horizon, there are calls to share power out or 'reweight' more accurately to reflect the differences in population size.

Advocates for reform argue that the current system could lead to countries representing a minority of EU citizens being able to outvote the majority.

However, French President Jaques Chirac has argued that Germany cannot be given any more votes, because this would "overturn the founding principle of the Franco-German pact, which was one of inviolable equality."

Britain has recently offered to give up one of its two European Commissioners in exchange for some more votes.

Reweighting of votes is a highly political issue, which will involve winners and losers.

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Links to more Nice summit glossary stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Nice summit glossary stories