Twins Square RootPoland is really making a reputation for itself in EU circles at the moment – not for the right reasons. They are again forcing their idea that voting weights in Council should be proportional to the square root of a country’s population, not directly proportional to population – as proposed by the Constitution. Quoted in EUObserver, Marek Cichocki, one of Poland’s negotiators stated that giving Poland greater voting weight would be the “Polish historical rebate” for the fact that “for 50 years Poland for no fault of its own was outside EU integration”. What a load of complete rubbish. Do the Brits get more as well, as we were not in the EU until 1973?

Poland needs to learn that the way to get influence in Brussels is to be pleasant to the other countries in the club. If you support them, they will support you. If you just do your best to annoy your neighbours, I think they might be none too pleased to help when you have a problem. So to hell with the square roots, and here’s to hope that Poland see the error of its ways at some point soon and start being cooperative again.

UPDATE – a good piece on this at The Economist blog.


  1. Thanks szopen for posting an interesting article. Pity there are 3 problems with this…

    (1) It ignores the fact that Poland is not arguing for this in terms of fairness. It’s just complaining that it’s losing out vis à vis Germany
    (2) Poland wants the 65% population criterion to stay as well, a matter not covered by that article
    (3) EU decision making is not just decided in Council – there’s the EP as well, where you have yet another allocation of MEPs by country and problems when some of them don’t turn up and you need an absolute majority

    It’s also interesting that the article cites Luxembourg. They have done very well at EU level in recent years as Juncker is well respected as a Prime Minister. Maybe Poland could look at that model? Some good will from the KaczyÅ„ski brothers would do a lot more good than this bickering.

  2. Poland is indeed looking for some balance of EU voting power. What is the case? The case is that current proposition makes pretty uncomfortable situation where only the coalition of practically all member states other than Germany and France is capable of counter-balance the voting power of these two countries. Of course, it is hardly realistic to find such a coalition and in the conclusion, the direct consequence of the new threaty will be Europ driven exclusively by Franko-German combo with very little influence from the other countries and with all new member states practically neglected.

  3. ^
    Right! And they are marking the boundaries of how much they would accept to loose on this new deal at the same time.

  4. Max Groebel

    So it seems. Still, what the Poles actually propose is an increase of Germany’s weight (compared to the rules in force) and a decrease of Poland’s.

  5. Max – I think you’ve over-interpreted. I know full well it’s a double majority, but the population component of that is what it says – proportional to the population.

    As I understand it, Poland wants to change that part to square roots.

    While your argument in your second paragraph is interesting, it’s precisely Germany’s voting weights that Poland seems to be making the fuss about.

  6. Max Groebel

    “…not directly proportional to population – as proposed by the Constitution…”
    You’ve got it wrong, John. It’s called “double” majority, not “direct”. The other leg is said to favour smaller states. Which it will not do in reality…

    Secondly, it’s the Nice rules that are in force. And they are already rather close to the square root. Almost the only thing we have to do is to take 5 votes from Poland and give them mainly to Germany, and take 3 from Spain and give them to Romania. Presto. The square root (almost).

  7. sebastian

    The “new” treaty should include the old Commission proposal that only a 5/6 majority for ratification is needed. A non-ratifying State would thus leave the EU and remain in a special relationship with a bilateral treaty (a bit like Switzerland).
    The Polish government is annoying…

  8. They (Poles) should stay quiet and accept changes in voting system that reduces their influence without a sound. They shoud do it with a pleasant attitude and generally as sugested already by France “enjoy the right to stay silent”. Leave it to big boys.

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