Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

Symposium: Responses to Joschka Fischer


Maintaining and Improving the Institutional Capacities of the Enlarged European Union **

Dietmar Nickel *

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This paper is a part of contributions to the Jean Monnet Working Paper
No.7/00, Symposium: Responses to Joschka Fischer

The current Inter-governmental Conference (IGC), due to wind up at the European Council meeting in Nice, has the explicit mandate to prepare the European Union for the expected enlargement.

What does the EU need in order to be prepared? You would probably expect a civil servant of the European Parliament to offer-or try to sell you-the European Parliament's expectations and requirements as set out in its resolution of 13 April 2000.1 There are, naturally, other approaches to the issue. Here is one that I recently heard: change the legal basis for the adoption and revision of the financial regulation from unanimity to qualified majority voting, and turn the agriculture budget from compulsory into non-compulsory spending, and you will obtain the necessary financial margins for enlargement. I must confess I can see the charm of this proposal. There are even people who think that all these proposals-even those put forward by the European Parliament, were they to be adopted-would not be sufficient.2 And indeed, even the more radical reformers cannot figure out what it will mean for the Union to be enlarged by twelve or more new Member States, to increase both its current population and its current territory by a third. This will by no means be an enlargement comparable to the previous ones.

Is it useful to try to address this problem at this stage? We all know the kind of answer which the IGC is likely to produce. We all know that it will fall far short of the solutions, reforms, revisions, and ideas required. But what will it, actually, produce?

One can therefore conclude that the future shape of Europe will have to be decided upon later and this means that it will be decided together with the future Member States.3 This is certainly appropriate because what matters is not how difficult decision-making can be when a considerably increased number of participants is involved-what matters is that the applicant states have a chance to contribute in a constructive manner to defining the future European house. The diktat of the acquis in the enlargement negotiations should not be matched by a diktat on the future structure of the European Union.

So, there will be further steps to take after Nice. When? In 2004 it would seem, from listening to Chancellor Schroeder.4

But (1) in which direction? and (2) how?

** Speech held at the International Conference, `From the Founding Treaties to a Constitution for the European Union? Constitutional Perspectives for an Enlarged European Union,' European Association of Researchers on Federalism (Tübingen), Salzburg, 21-23 September 2000. The format of the oral presentation, made on 22 September 2000, has been maintained.
* The author is Director-General in the Secretariat-General of the European Parliament. The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Parliament.

1 Provisional minutes of 13.4.2000; not yet published in the Official Journal.

2 Klaus Hänsch, Frankfurter Rundschau, 23.2.2000, p. 9.

3 See, Klaus Hänsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 6.9.2000.

4Handelsblatt, 8 September 2000, p.8.


© Dietmar Nickel 2000


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