The role of the French presidency in the institutional reform of December 2000

On institutional reform, the European Council of Nice arrived at a minimalist compromise that was much criticized by certain partners, the European Parliament and the press. The French presidency made the mistake of retreating in the negotiation by strictly limiting its mandate to what remained on the institutional tab after Amsterdam. This rigid and vertical conception only allowed for a mechanical form of discussion and prohibited any approach more global. However, the absence of a reflection on the European Parliament is without a doubt the most serious mistake of the Treaty of Nice. In order to obtain a real parity between the nations represented in the council of European ministers (more precisely so that Germany would not have more votes than France in the council), the French made major concessions in the European Parliament in favor of Germany, whose 82 million inhabitants ensure its strong representation. In the name of realism, the Treaty of Nice therefore calls to question the principle of equal representation of the large states, fundamental for the founders of Europe who were cautious to avoid national hegemony. The new allocation modifies the numbers of persons elected to the European Parliament planned by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Thus Germany retains the same number of deputies (99), while the other three large states lose 15 deputies and pass from 87 to 72 representatives. Chancellor Schroeder therefore has ample grounds for satisfaction. – Summary AFRI-2001