ALLIANCES come and go. Within the European Union one of the strongest in recent years has been the link between Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and Tony Blair of Britain. But now it seems that Sr Aznar has a new friend – Leszek Miller of Poland. They have been brought together because they believe themselves to be the main losers from the change in EU ministerial voting procedures proposed in the draft Constitution now under discussion in Brussels. Poland and Spain are the two largest nations in the EU after the “big four” – Britain, France, Germany and Italy – and at the Nice summit in 2000 they secured for themselves voting rights that gave them a greater say in decision–making than the other, smaller, EU member states. Under the draft Constitution – which provides for decisions to be reached by a double majority of 50 per cent of member states representing 60 per cent of the Union's population – their ability to block proposals will be much reduced. Neither Sr Aznar nor Mr Miller is inclined to agree to this – unless something else is on offer as compensation. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the current President of the Council of Ministers, now has to discover what might help Poland and Spain to change their minds. Two Commissioners in Brussels instead of the one to which they would otherwise be entitled?; additional representation in the European Parliament? Mr Berlusconi will not want to propose special voting concessions since this would risk the whole complex voting structure proposed in the Constitution to collapse. As a final throw he might suggest that Poland and Spain should be appropriately compensated for the EU aid they will lose when it has to be shared between 25 countries. That might just do the trick!


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