Friday, February 11, 2005

At the gates of Vienna. Turkey and Europe.

Turkey, if it joins would be more powerful than some countries, oh alright it would be more powerful than all countries other than Germany. "The Impact of Turkey's Membership on EU Voting" is a fascinating study by Richard Baldwin and Mika Widgrén for the Centre for European Policy Studies.
The paper is a dissection using game theory of the effect of Turkish membership of the EU on the voting weights, needed to produce results under Qualified Majority Voting. Arcane stuff you might think, but with ramifications that will be, in some countries, political dynamite.
As they say,

"Turkish membership is calculated to have a big impact on the power distribution among member states. Under the Nice or CT (Constitutional Treaty) voting rules, Turkey would be the second-most powerful member state in an EU-29. Under the CT rules, Turkey would be substantially more powerful than France, Italy and the UK, while under the Nice rules, the power differences among the member states with populations of more than 50 million would be small. Plainly, this distribution of power might decrease the acceptability of the Constitutional Treaty or Turkey’s membership (or both)."

I quite enjoy the understatement in that “might decrease the acceptability”. But that is only the abstract. Dig a little deeper and you can see that the big loser is Germany. Closely followed by France, the UK and Italy.

The purpose of the paper is to point out how vital it is that everybody supports the Constitution. For as the authors rightly point out, if the Constitution is voted down then we have to work with the rules set up by the Nice treaty. Which would make coming to a decision in an enlarged Council, um how should we put this, bloody difficult.
They of course are gentler in their terminology, if not their conclusion.
“As far as the capacity to act is concerned, enlargement is projected to have a relatively small impact, as long as the voting rules of the Constitutional Treaty come into effect. In particular, Turkey’s membership has only a negligible effect on the EU’s capacity to act. The answer, however, is quite different if the Constitution is rejected and the Nice Treaty rules remain in place. Under the Nice voting rules, the 25-to-29 member state enlargement would substantially reduce the EU-25’s ability to act. Thus, our findings confirm that the enlarged EU cannot function well under the Nice Treaty rules. It also suggests that if the Constitution is rejected, the Nice voting rules must be reformed before further enlargement.”
Just had to include one rather marvellous quote from the paper
“Efficiency, if not legitimacy, tends to be higher when a large share of power is in the hands of just a few nations.”


Jon Barnard said...

Wow, so we could reduce the EU's ability to act, its efficiency, if not legitimacy, all with one vote? I'm glad you've warned us of this danger.

Actually, why shouldn't Turkey be the second-most-influential member of the EU, since it would have the second-highest population?

lemuel said...

Turkey at the Gates of Vienna? Good analogy. But who will play the role of King Jan Sobieski, I wonder?

Elaib said...

Of course Turkey, as second largest should be the second most powerful. You and the figures are quite right. I supose the question that is being raised is whether people feel comfortable with that.

No idea, but I can bet it won't be Kilroy-Silk, maybe Zelezny?