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Amsterdam Treaty: Enhanced Co-Operation Measures

Volume 621: debated on Monday 29 January 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What changes have been made at Nice to the Amsterdam Treaty's Provisions for "enhanced co-operation", and in particular whether under Clause G of the General Principles on Enhanced Co-operation, while a member of the Council may request that a matter be referred to the European Council, a final decision will be taken there by a qualified majority vote and not, as previously, by unanimity. [HL382]

At Nice we agreed changes to the enhanced co-operation arrangements which mean that enhanced co-operation will:

  • be extended to Pillar II for the implementation of policies that have previously been agreed by unanimity. It will not cover defence;
  • involve at least eight member states;
  • not undermine the Single Market;
  • be open to all member states. A new duty is placed on the Commission to encourage the participation of as many member states as possible;
  • respect the rights of non-participating member states;
  • be used only as a last resort;
  • not form part of the acquis;
  • be funded by the participating member states.
In clause G the emergency brake procedure agreed at Amsterdam will be replaced in Pillars I and III with a lighter appeal mechanism, under which a member state may ask that any proposed enhanced co-operation be referred to the European Council before a decision is taken. Only if the European Council unanimously decides against the proposal is it overturned. Otherwise a decision to proceed will then be taken by the Council by QMV.