Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Take the square root…

Each EU member state should be given a voting weight proportional to the square root of its population in order for the voting system on the Council to be "representative, transparent, effective and objective". The "qualified majority" should then comprise 62 percent of the votes.

According to two Polish physicists (could only be) Karol Życzkowski and Wojciech Slomczynski, from the Jagielonian University in Krakow, the voting rules proposed in the EU constitution are "fatally flawed" and will give some countries unfair clout in the decision-making process.

They calculate that the 65 percent population hurdle, with at least 15 member states voting for a proposal, gives an unfair advantage to Germany, with France the next big gainer. UK and Italy. Spain and Poland will be the biggest losers.

To come to their startling new formula, the physicists have used existing techniques in game theory to calculate how much power each country will have if the new constitution is adopted i.e., what their ability to influence the decisions of the Council will be.

They found that citizens in different EU countries will not have the same degree of influence on decisions taken by the Council. They disagree with the notion that the new constitution uses the simplest voting system possible, and claim that there is a much fairer solution, which they have named the Jagiellonian Compromise. First you take the square root of 82,424,609, then…

Nevertheless, this might not go down too well in the pubs in Barnsley. It is difficult to imagine patrons struggling with their calculators over their pints of John Smith, as they work out the knife-edge percentages on whether the latest wing-mirror directive is going to scrape home. But there you go.

Source: Institute of Physics News Release PR39(04)

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