Schemes of Woting Weight Distributions in the EU: Possible and Actual Justifications

This paper discusses competing principles of vote distribution in the EU Council within a framework of normative political theory.

ARENA Working Paper 25/1999 (html)

Knut Midgaard

This article follows up a previous ARENA Working Paper (10/98, Consensus, Majority Decisions, Power and Autonomy: Fragments Related to the European Union), in which it was asked how, and to what extent, the EU’s distribution of seats and votes should reflect (i) the equality of the member states and (ii) the principle of political equality across nations. Moreover, to what extent should the distribution reflect other principles? Three points were made: First, I argued that in order to prevent heteronomy on the part of the citizens of small nations, ‘over-representation’ of small nations (or a unanimity rule) is necessary, at least in some contexts, more specifically where cultural identity is affected. Second, however, prominent German politicians have advocated a strengthening of democratic equality element, thereby suggesting that more voting weight in the Council should be accorded the large member states. Third, French spokesmen have stated that the weighting of votes should be reviewed according to “demographic, economic and financial realities”. This paper will include further reflections on possible schemes of voting weight distributions, and their justifications, resting on a normative framework which will be outlined below.

Tags: Council of Ministers, normative political theory, legitimacy, legislative procedure
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM