Saturday 11 April 2009

European Council President: Eliminating unwilling countries

The previous post looked at the dual membership of the European Union and NATO as a requirement for hopefuls (member states and candidates). In our opinion, due to their ambiguous relation to NATO and EU defence, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden had disqualified themselves from filling the posts of President of the European Council and double-hatted High Representative.

I should have mentioned that Denmark has an opt-out in place concerning the common security and defence policy, although it is a NATO member.


We turn to other evolving core areas of the European Union.

Schengen agreement

The Schengen agreement abolishes border controls between the member states. Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted out.

(Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are not yet inside.)



Denmark and the United Kingdom have opted out of the common currency. Sweden has not bothered to join, despite its treaty obligation to adopt the euro.

(Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania have committed themselves to entry, but have not made it yet.)


Justice and home affairs

Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted out of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters under the Treaty of Lisbon. Denmark has opted out of justice and home affairs (JHA) as well as EU citizenship (de iure).


EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – politically binding since December 2000 – would become legally binding. Poland and the United Kingdom have opted out.


Lisbon Treaty

Let us use political ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon as a proxy for being in the European mainstream.

Ireland has voted no and the Czech Senate has not voted on the amending treaty. The Polish President has refused to sign, although the Parliament has approved the Lisbon Treaty.

(In Germany the Constitutional Court has not given its verdict, but the political ratification process is concluded.)


Summing up

If we strike the unwilling or negligent countries, we are left with the talent pool coming from 17 EU member states: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

By ratifying the Lisbon Treaty the Czech Republic might join before the elections to the top offices, but the opt-outs elsewhere seem to be more firmly rooted.

According to these criteria, the EU member states outside one or more core areas at this point are: Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


Is it unreasonable to expect that the President of the European Council and the empowered High Representative come from member states engaged in all the core areas of EU policy (or committed to joining)?

Ralf Grahn

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