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EDITIONS
Euro-glossary Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Nice Treaty
Irish no campaigners
Irish voters rejected the treaty in a referendum
The aim of the Nice Treaty is to overhaul the institutions of the European Union in preparation for a union of 27 member states rather than the current 15.

Despite long and difficult negotiations through the night during the summit in Nice, from 7 - 11 December 2000, many of the most difficult issues are still unresolved.

Most of the changes agreed on at Nice decide how power should be shared out within the European institutions after enlargement.

Under the treaty, the number of seats in the European Parliament will be capped, as will the size of the commission. The bigger nations will give up their second commissioner and, eventually, countries will take turns serving on the commission.

National governments represented in the Council of Ministers will lose their veto in a number of areas, as 30 new articles were made subject to qualified majority voting.

The weighting of votes within the council was subject to fierce debate during the summit, but eventually a deal was struck deciding how many votes each country will have after enlargement.

Vetoes will remain in key areas such as taxation and social policy, but individual nations will not be able to hold back a group of countries which want to press ahead together in closer co-operation.

The compromises required to put together the treaty have left many dissatisfied with the end result.

In June voters in the Irish Republic rejected the treaty leaving its future - and the future of the enlargement process - in doubt.

EU officials insist that preparations for enlargement are going ahead in spite of the "no" vote, but it is not clear how expansion can continue if the treaty is not ratified.

Ireland is the only country which is constitutionally obliged to call a referendum on the treaty.

The next inter-governmental conference, scheduled for 2004, will still have plenty of work to do.

At Nice, a Future of Europe debate was launched, aimed at gathering the public's views on how the European Union should progress.

Germany's Chancellor Schroeder and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin have outlined their ideas in keynote speeches.

The distance between the two men's visions demonstrates how many issues are still to be resolved.


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See also:

07 Dec 00 | Nice summit glossary
13 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
13 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
14 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
29 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
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