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EDITIONS
Euro-glossary Monday, 30 April, 2001, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Closer co-operation
Also known as "flexibility" or "enhanced co-operation", it allows countries to use European institutions to press ahead on certain issues.

It was first allowed in the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, but under strict rules. Closer co-operation within the common foreign and security policy was not allowed.

Any attempt at closer co-operation could be vetoed by another member country - even one which did not want to take part - and had to involve at least half the member states.

This meant that in practice it never happened.

The 2000 Nice summit decided that it would have to change the rules, if closer co-operation was ever going to get up and running.

Nice gave the go-ahead for closer co-operation in all areas except military and defence and abolished the veto option.

However a minimum of eight member states is still required and many areas will need European Parliament approval.

Closer co-operation has been controversial as it gives rise to the idea of a two-speed Europe.

Some countries fear they will be left behind as others forge ahead with deeper European integration.

See also:

13 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
20 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
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