Salade Ni├žoise From Amsterdam Left-Overs: Does the Treaty of Nice Contain the Institutional Recipe to Ready the European Union for Enlargement?

8 Colum. J. Eur. L. 53 (2002)

Markus G. Puder. First Legal State Examination, 1987, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Germany; Second Legal State Examination, 1990, Upper Court of Appeals of Munich; Master of Laws, 1991, Georgetown University Law Center; Ph.D. in Law, 1997, Ludwig-Maximilians University. Member New York Bar and United States Supreme Court Bar. Dr. Puder is an attorney and researcher in the Environmental Assessment Division of Argonne National Laboratory, Washington D.C. Office. He also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center where he teaches European Union law.

The Treaty of Nice was negotiated by the political leaders of the 15 European Union Member States during their marathon summit on the French Riviera in late 2000. The underlying intergovernmental conference had been convened to reform and prepare the institutions of the European Union for the accession of new member countries. The Treaty of Nice focuses on the institutional questions identified but not resolved during the preceding intergovernmental conference that led to the Treaty of Amsterdam. The reform issues are also known as Amsterdam left-overs.

The three original Amsterdam left-overs constitute the core of the Treaty of Nice. They involve the size and composition of the Commission, the reweighting of votes in the Council, and the extension of qualified majority voting in the Council. The three themes are interlinked. In exchange for relinquishing their second slot in the Commission, the larger Member States have called for a larger share of votes in the Council. The re-negotiation of the vote keys has been linked to the question of extending the qualified majority umbrella. The Treaty of Nice employs a phased approach to achieve the pertinent revisions. The critical timelines include fixed dates, which in all likelihood will precede the first accession,8 and reference to the day when the European Union reaches a membership of 27.

After introducing the current architecture of the European Union and the basic drivers for the intergovernmental conference, this article discusses the three original Amsterdam left-overs and the fixes offered by the Treaty of Nice.