Efficiency agenda for Union of 25

European and National flags of 25 Members States

By Richard Laming

Published in the Financial Times, 31 December 2003

Sir, In discussing the consequences of enlargement on the European Union’s marathon negotiating sessions, Tobias Buck neglects to mention the importance of voting by majority (“Brussels tries to call time on an overnight sensation”, December 23).

The use of majority voting brings a new dynamic to the discussions. It strengthens the likelihood of a decision being reached and the question therefore changes from “How can I force the others to accept my point of view” to “How can I shape the final decision with the others?”

For too long, the Council of Ministers has acted like a committee – where the decision is reached by the chair interpreting the sense of the meeting rather than as a legislative assembly. Proposals andamendments should be written down in advance, votes should be taken on them and the whole proceedings should take place in public.

There will always be discussion in the corridors and a Union of 25 member states is going to have to accommodate ever more diverse interests and points of view but that surely makes it more important (and not less) that its institutions operate with the maximum accountability and efficiency.

Richard Laming, Director, Federal Union, London SE1 7TZ

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