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Europe

EU Foreign Ministers to Discuss Constitution

The Irish EU Presidency is gearing itself up for the first collective discussion by member states on Monday on the contentious question of a new voting system in the Constitution.

A document circulated to EU governments by Dublin last week draws some tentative conclusions about where a final compromise might lie on the issue of voting rights, over which talks collapsed last December. The document states that while many countries support the new double majority voting system - based on a threshold of member states combined with a threshold of EU population - no consensus will be found on the current thresholds in the draft Constitution.This suggests that a decision is taken when supported by 50 percent of member states representing 60 percent of the EU population. However, that has been flatly rejected by Spain and Poland as it would mean that Europe's big three - the UK, France and Germany - could form a blocking minority on any decisions they did not like. Madrid would like the population threshold raised so that it would be much easier for it – as a medium-sized country – to block a decision it did not want. It recently suggested the bar be raised to 66%. Raising the thresholds of both the member states and the population appears to be the way the Irish Presidency is thinking as well. Its document suggests that "consensus will not be secured without raising the population threshold." (EUobserver.com)

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