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Former EU Commissioner: Only 14 Votes Needed to Change Treaties   by Robert Semonsen

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Former EU Commissioner: Only 14 Votes Needed to Change Treaties  

Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, an Italian diplomat who formerly served as a European Commissioner, has argued that—contrary to popular belief—in order to revise the European Union’s system of treaties, just 14 of the 27 European Union member states, a simple majority, would need to support the initiative.

The former Commissioner’s statement, which took place during an interview with the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale earlier this week, comes days after three of the EU’s principal leaders—following the presentation of the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe—advocated for revising the bloc’s treaties, in particular, that which concerns the unanimity rule.

According to Feroci, who presently serves as the president of the Italian Institute of International Affairs, Article 48 of the EU treaty outlines that—in order to launch a proposal to revise treaties, then begin the process by convening a Convention—the approval of only one member state, or the European Parliament, or the Commission, is required.

“A simple majority vote of the European Council can set it into motion. That is, once someone has presented the proposal, and in this case, it will be the European Parliament that will make it, because it has already announced it, the Council must pronounce itself and can do so by a simple majority of its members,” Feroci said, adding that the approval of 14 member states would be “sufficient on paper” for a treaty change to occur.

Earlier this week, following Von der Leyen, Metsola, and Macron’s expression of strong support for treaty revisions that, if adopted, would, among other things, see the liquidation of the so-called unanimity rule in critical areas like foreign policy, defense, and healthcare, thirteen member states signed and released an unofficial letter voicing their opposition to the proposed institutional reforms.

The letter reads:

While we do not exclude any options at this stage, we do not support unconsidered and premature attempts to launch a process towards Treaty change.

We already have a Europe that works. We do not need to rush into institutional reforms in order to deliver results.

When asked why the Baltics, Northern, and Central European states consider efforts to launch a process toward Treaty change to be “premature,” Feroci replied: “Some countries are convinced that no further steps are needed on greater integration. Transferring some matters from unanimity to quality qualified majority voting effectively means renouncing pieces of your national sovereignty. Others may be concerned that similar decisions could open up an internal debate, putting government majorities at risk.”

Feroci does not envisage any decisions to initiate treaty change being made prior to the European Council Summit, which is set to take place on the 23rd and 24th of June.

Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.