Ryszard Legutko, an EU member of Parliament representing European Conservatives and Reformists, and senior member of the ruling Law and Justice party in Poland has expressed his strong opposition to the proposed extension of voting by a qualified majority.
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In his Wednesday state of the European Union address, Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, stated that in the future, more EU decisions on foreign policy should be taken by a qualified majority and not, as has been the case so far, unanimously.
Mr Juncker pointed out that, in his opinion, the Lisbon Treaty makes such a change possible. The 2007 treaty amends the constitutional basis on which the Union functions. Prominent changes include the move from unanimity to qualified voting in 45 policy areas.
Responding to the statement by Mr Juncker, Ryszard Legutko expressed his strong opposition to the proposed changes. In Mr Legutko’s opinion, they will create even more problems for the EU by buttressing the system whereby some member states are more important than others.
In Mr Legutko’s opinion, the EU is currently more divided than ever before in its history.
“There is no unity any more” deplored Mr Legutko, adding that “until recently the integration proceeded in one direction, and now it proceeds in two. The number of those who are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of the European project is growing. It is the European Commission that bears political responsibility for this state of affairs.”
If in the first act of a play you notice a shotgun hanging on a wall, it's virtually certain that in the last act it is going to go off.
The Lisbon Treaty introduced qualified majority voting in the European Council into EU legislation and it was inevitable that, sooner or later, there would be an attempt to introduce its provisions on sensitive matters such as EU foreign policy.
The concept of qualified majority voting changes the nature of the EU away from painstaking consensus building towards building coalitions with enough votes to force through a given measure. The result is that those who fear they will lose the votes begin to feel excluded as their interests come under threat.
The EU is a union of nation states. However, it is also committed to becoming “an ever closer union”. This is interpreted by Mr Juncker and the European Commission as meaning that more and more matters should become the domain of votes in the European Council and interest of the European Commission.
There are alternative views offered by the likes of Viktor Orban and the current Polish government. They argue that the nation states should retain maximum powers and that the European Council needs to proceed on the principle of consensus building.
Britain is leaving the EU, but its views on a EU that widens rather than deepens remain.