Cameron explores the future of the EU

Though the European Union has achieved dramatic success as a supranational institution which history has never seen before, it has yet to ratify a constitution.

Political science professor and European Union Studies specialist David Cameron kicked off a presentation on Tuesday afternoon in Luce Hall to explore this idea and some of the other difficulties that the EU faces today.

One of the most pressing issues is the EU’s stalemate over how many votes each nation should get, Cameron said. On Dec. 12, the heads of state of the 15 current members came together in Brussels. After less than 24 hours of negotiations, they found “there was not even any point to continuing the negotiations,” Cameron said.

The failure of these negotiations came as a surprise since there was “widespread consensus on most parts” of the EU constitution, Cameron said.

“It was an exceptionally deflating moment in the EU,” Cameron said.

The voting is one of several issues that the EU must deal with. Cameron said that the members must still outline the powers of the parliament, the minister of foreign affairs, and the presidency. But before these powers are set, the EU must decide how it will organize voting.

The original six countries in the EU were given a number of votes proportional to their populations. As the EU grew, with the inclusion of Spain in 1986 and numerous Eastern European nations in the mid 1990s, the voting process became more difficult. In the next few years, the EU will expand to 30 nations, made up of states as large as Germany and as small as Malta, Cameron said.

The most recent attempt to reorganize the voting structure came in 2000 with the Treaty of Nice. Though the treaty did give votes to the smaller nations, the larger nations felt underrepresented.

“Germany is especially underrepresented –by population and as the largest net contributor to the EU,” Cameron said.

In recent months, Cameron said the EU members have tried to balance the votes again, but many problems — from Iraq to the ineptitude of current EU president Silvio Berlusconi — have impeded progress. Cameron predicted that such difficulties would only continue.

“This is all a shadow play of the future,” Cameron said. “There will be extensive budget debates and foreign policy debates.”

Some students said they had hoped Cameron would touch upon problems the EU will face further down the line.

“It was quite informative,” Peter Vagra ’04 said. “But I wish there was more discussion about the future of the EU.”

While the politics go deeper than simply organizing votes, students said that Cameron’s presentation was easy to understand.

“It was a very simplified, yet clear explanation of what’s going on,” Gemma Sala GRD ’04, a political science graduate student, said, “It’s great that Yale focuses on issues as they develop.”

Political Science professor and European Union studies specialist David Cameron explores the EU’s constitutional and consensus trip-ups in a talk in Luce Hall Tuesday afternoon.
Stephanie Dziczek
Political Science professor and European Union studies specialist David Cameron explores the EU’s constitutional and consensus trip-ups in a talk in Luce Hall Tuesday afternoon.

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