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Designing the voting system for the Council of the European Union

Leech, Dennis (2002) Designing the voting system for the Council of the European Union. Public Choice, 113 (3-4). 437 -464. ISSN 1573-7101

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Identification Number: 10.1023/A:1020877015060


This paper examines the system of Qualified Majority Voting, used by the Council of the European Union, from the perspective of enlargement of the Union. It uses an approach based on power indices due to Penrose, Banzhaf and Coleman to make two analyses: (1) the question of the voting power of member countries from the point of view of fairness, and (2) the question of how the threshold number of votes required for QMV should be determined. It studies two scenarios for change from 2005 onwards envisaged by the Nice Treaty: (1) no enlargement, the EU comprising 15 member countries, and (2) full enlargement to 27 members by the accession of all the present twelve candidates. The proposal is made that fair weights be determined algorithmically as a technical or routine matter as the membership changes. The analysis of how the threshold affects power shows the trade-offs that countries face between their blocking power and the power of the Council to act. The main findings are: (1) that the weights laid down in the Nice Treaty are close to being fair, the only significant discrepancies being the under-representation of Germany and Romania, and the over-representation of Spain and Poland; (2) the threshold required for a decision is set too high for the Council to be an effective decision making body.

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Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2006
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:05

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