Ferrero-Waldner on the issue of "qualified majority voting"
Unanimity rule upheld in the fields of judicial cooperation in criminal
matters, volume-related water management, spatial planning,
land use and choice of energy supplier
Brussels, 27 October 2003 - Between sessions at the Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels today, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on the issue of applicability of "qualified majority voting" that in her opinion the Draft Treaty in most areas provided for a well-balanced transition to qualified majority voting. "However, in one policy area the draft goes too far for Austria: abandoning the principle of unanimity in the field of judicial cooperation in criminal matters is not conceivable for us at present. This is one of the core areas of the national legal systems, where it would be highly problematic to take legislative measures against the will of individual Member States", Ferrero-Waldner said.
In the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), by contrast, it would be desirable in the opinion of the Foreign Minister to create more scope for qualified majority voting. "This would substantially improve the basis for an efficient Common Foreign Policy. Already in the Convention a broad majority advocated that at least proposals of the Foreign Minister of the Union that are supported by the Commission should be decided by qualified majority vote. We should take another look at this compromise idea," Ferrero-Waldner said.
According to Ferrero-Waldner, areas in which Austria would under no circumstances agree to abandon the unanimity rule are environmental measures involving issues such as volume-related water management, spatial planning, land use and choice of energy supplier. "But in these respects, the unanimity rule is anyway upheld in the Draft Treaty. Since these are vital interests to our country, I will certainly not give my consent to abandoning the unanimity rule. It is completely out of the question for me that other countries should be making decisions concerning our water," Ferrero-Waldner stated.