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16 June, 2024
 
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EU reform proposals spark concern among small states

Germany and France's proposals to alter decision-making processes and reduce Commissioner numbers raise fears of marginalization

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Germany and France are pushing for significant reforms within the European Union, including the abolition of unanimous decision-making and a reduction in the number of Commissioners.

According to a report by Pavlos Xanthoulis, the proposals, which have the backing of the European Commission, aim to streamline decision-making processes and enhance efficiency. However, smaller EU member states are expressing concern over the potential loss of influence and protection of vital interests.

Key Points

- Germany and France advocate for the abolition of unanimous decision-making in the EU Council, favoring qualified majority voting instead. This move would diminish the veto power of smaller states, potentially leaving them vulnerable to decisions that may impact their vital interests.

- The joint German-French expert group proposes a "safety net" mechanism to protect the vital interests of small states. However, the activation of this mechanism would require the agreement of larger EU states, raising questions about its effectiveness.

- Another proposed reform involves reducing the number of Commissioners in the European Commission after 2030. Germany and France suggest either limiting the Commission to two-thirds of Member States or establishing a "two-tier" Commission with senior Commissioners holding voting rights.

- Small states, including Cyprus, fear that these reforms would marginalize them within the EU decision-making process. Without veto power and with fewer Commissioners representing their interests, they may struggle to influence key decisions.

- Opposition to the German-French proposals is growing among several EU member states, citing concerns over loss of sovereignty and influence. However, Germany and France argue that these reforms are necessary for the EU to function effectively, especially with future enlargements expected.

- The debate underscores the ongoing tension between larger and smaller EU states regarding decision-making procedures and institutional structure. While Germany and France push for reforms to streamline governance, smaller states seek to preserve their influence and protect their interests.

Overall, the proposed reforms highlight the complex dynamics within the European Union as member states navigate competing priorities and power dynamics. The outcome of these discussions will shape the future direction of EU governance and the balance of power among its members.

[This article is an edited summary of its Greek original written by Pavlos Xanthoulis for Kathimerini's Sunday edition]

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Cyprus  |  Europe  |  EU  |  reform

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