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Poland PM calls for new discussions on EU constitution

[JURIST] Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski [official profile] said Tuesday that Poland would insist on new discussions on voting within the Council of the European Union before Poland will agree to any proposed EU constitutional "treaty" [JURIST news archive]. Kaczynski voiced his objection to the proposed "double majority" voting system, which requires at least 55 percent of the ministers to vote in favor of a measure but also requires that the ministers voting in favor represent at least 65 percent of the EU's total population. The proposal diminishes the comparable voting power of Poland, and also makes it more difficult for minority member states to delay majority initiatives. Poland currently benefits from the existing qualified majority voting system [BBC backgrounder], which allocates a specific weight to each minister's vote based on population but has also been progressively adjusted to give less populous states like Spain and Poland more voting weight. The Council of European Union, composed of 27 ministers representing the member states, is one of the two highest legislative institutions in the European Union.

Last Thursday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed that the controversial European constitution [text] should be reconstituted into a "simplified treaty" whose ratification would not require the support of the voters of individual countries. The "treaty" proposal, which would amend the organization and powers of the EU, is supported by Spain but is opposed by Italy [JURIST reports]. Under the "treaty," a president and foreign minister would oversee the 27-country organization. In addition, veto rights in some areas, including immigration policies, would be eliminated. Voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the original draft constitution in national referenda in 2005, effectively derailing the ratification process and throwing the constitution into legal limbo. The Independent has more.

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