Open Europe Blog

Double majority lock voting at the EBA was a
significant and valuable use of UK influence

In a report published today the influential cross-party House of Commons Foreign Select Affairs Committee commended David Cameron “for launching an ambitious agenda for EU reform”. The full report, including evidence presented by Open Europe, also makes a number of sensible observations such as:

“the point of a Member State having influence in the EU is to achieve EU policy outcomes that realise its interests and objectives.”

We agree – too often the EU is described by politicians in terms of “influence” and being “at the table” something that looks (and often is) of more benefit to politicians than those they serve – something we pointed out in our evidence:

“Open Europe contended that ‘influence’ is a term too often used in a rather lazy and undefined way”. Open Europe argued that the debate on UK influence in the EU should focus on identifying the concrete cases where the UK should exercise influence and had or had not done so.”

One case made of very tough concrete we brought to the MPs attention is the tricky issue of EU voting weights:

“Open Europe reminded us that from 2014 the Eurozone states will command sufficient weighted votes in the Council of the EU to muster the qualified majority required to take Single Market decisions alone.”

For this reason we have argued consistently that the UK needs a new safeguard to protect itself from Eurozone caucusing. The test case for this was the adoption of “Double majority” voting in the EBA – originally proposed by Open Europe.

The achievement of this new “double majority” was therefore a genuine success for UK diplomacy and has a significance well beyond that of the EBA. We are therefore glad the Committee picked up on it. As they conclude:

“The agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) which was struck among EU Finance Ministers in December 2012 was significant on several grounds. It shows what the UK can achieve, in terms of protecting its position in the Single Market, through close and constructive engagement and innovative policy solutions.”

“We note that the deal went some way towards entrenching the kind of safeguard against discrimination in the Single Market that the Government failed to secure in the December 2011 negotiations on the ‘fiscal compact’. We also note that the arrangements that were agreed to protect non-Eurozone states—on this occasion, for ‘double majority’ voting in the European Banking Authority—responded directly to a concrete proposal (in this case, one which gave rise directly to a risk of caucusing).”

They could not have put it better.

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