01 Mar 2021

The Treaty of Nice Turns 20

The Treaty of Nice, a landmark agreement in the history of the European integration process, celebrated its 20th anniversary last Friday. The legislation was signed on February 26, 2001 and came into force on February 1, 2003. The key aim of the Treaty was to introduce institutional changes and decision-making reform, amending the Maastricht Treaty and the Treaty of Rome, which would allow for the ensuing EU enlargement. 

The Treaty introduced qualified majority voting in the European Council, removed national vetoes in many areas and gave the European Parliament the power to elect the Commission President. It formalized the principles of enhanced cooperation which were first introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, limited the size of the future European Commission and European Parliament, and reformed vote weighing to proportionally reflect the population of the member-states, thus giving the larger countries a greater voting power. By establishing special representatives and the right of the EC to negotiate on behalf of all member states, the Treaty of Nice also reinforced the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Finally, it announced the initiative and paved the way for the development of an EU constitution. 

Following the signing of the Treaty of Nice, ten new countries joined the EU in 2004: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and Croatia in 2013.

Author: Ivan Eftimov