Thursday, June 14, 2007
Square Root Of Sarko
Here's one for wonks and political scientists. The stripped down treaty that the EU is trying to substitute for its failed constitution includes a "double majority" voting system. To pass, a measure has to be approved by at least 55% of the member states representing at least 65% of the EU population.
In practice, it means that certain very big countries (read: England, France, Germany, and Italy) can't realistically be left out of any majority, but neither can the mass of very small countries. The problem is that the medium-sized countries (read: Poland and Spain) can neither block a big-small majority nor force through a medium-small one.
Which is why Poland has made a counter-offer. To pass, a measure still needs 55% of the members states' approval. But the population majority is calculated using the square roots of member states' populations. In case you're wondering how that weights the results, consider the comparative populations of France (60 million) and Poland (39 million). Now consider the square roots: 7,745 vs. 6,244.
Poland has promised a veto unless the population majority is re-weighted, threatening to de-rail the urgently needed institutional reforms contained in the treaty. But not to worry. Super Sarkozy is in Warsaw as we speak, ready to work his negotiating magic.