Between 1957 (Treaty of Rome) and 1986 (SEA) there were no new treaties, but since 1986 there have been six treaties. The EU seemingly has an endless obsession with updating and changing its institutions. Treaty revision has been a virtual non-stop process since the mid-1980s. EU citizens cannot be blamed for thinking of the ‘EU as an organisation hard wired for mission-creep’ (FT 26/7/08). There were basically three reasons for this, enlargement being the first.

When future membership was expected to grow to around 25 states and as a club of 15 they were using institutional machinery designed for six, the rules had to be re-examined first. In 15 years EU membership more than doubled from 12 states in 1992 (Maastricht Treaty) to 27 by 2007, with Bulgaria and Romania joining. Earlier in 1995 there was the ‘Alpine-Arctic’ enlargement – Austria, Sweden and Finland – and in 2004, 10 states in a swathe stretching from the Baltic through Central and Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean joined (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus). Enlargements are tricky as they are effectively balancing acts, to maintain the political, geographic, demographic and economic symmetry of the EU. A balance of big and small, North and South, rural and industrial states needs ideally to be maintained. To retain a harmonious balance of interests and influence means the sequence of admissions, i.e. which states to admit and when, requires careful evaluation (assuming they qualify). Also it’s obviously important that net beneficiaries from the EU budget cannot outvote the net contributors. The political arithmetic of voting weights and the voting system required revision, the rule book had to change and ceilings agreed on the size of EU institutions, the European Parliament, the Court and the Commission, all of which is exceedingly difficult to get unanimous agreement on. The Treaty of Amsterdam failed to do so in 1997 and these problematic reforms were effectively ducked until later. EU treaties proliferated because they self-propagated; each one happened

to contain the seed for the next. A clause stipulated that a future IGC in so many years would review, revise, complete, correct or change the treaty for

another. So one treaty begat the next. They are not independent one-off treaties but instalments in a serial. A third contributory factor to treaty revision is that Germany maintained

pressure to bring about political federation regardless of whether the CDU or SPD was in power. This was their quid pro quo for giving up the DM for the euro and EMU. The French, though, want what they call a ‘strong’ Europe (not federation), with strongly integrated institutions in situ preferably run by an old Ecole National Administrative (ENA) trained member of the French politico-administrative elite. The job of the 1996 IGC (as specified in the Maastricht Treaty) was to

correct any mistakes Maastricht drafters had made and to change the club rules to accommodate a move to 20 or more members in a ‘son of Maastricht Treaty’. The main difficulty was to keep the balance between big and small countries. The big had more votes so could not be outvoted, the small benefited from the weighed vote system. Of a total of 76 votes 54 were needed for a QMV and only 23 for a blocking minority. In 1996 the Maastricht arithmetic meant the big five were needed for a QMV and only 23 for a blocking minority. In 1996 the Maastricht arithmetic meant the big five had 48 votes and could only get a QMV with the support of two states. For small states to get their way they needed 3 big ones too. Also two big states could block if they were supported by one small state (other than Luxembourg). The problem in changing this would be to keep the balance of the political

arithmetic right in the future. Blocking power had proved to be critically important; of 233 SEM decisions in five years only 91 went to a vote. Any club containing conflicting interests and rival cultures cannot tolerate one being constantly overruled. (Economist 22/10/99). Germany, Denmark, Holland and the UK were instinctively for free trade and open markets; Spain and France mistrust market forces they cannot influence. Other ‘fault lines’ existed between contributors and net beneficiaries; between Germany and Benelux which wanted the EP to have more power and France and the UK that didn’t. France and Spain wanted big countries’ voting strength to rise; Germany wanted a ‘double majority’ system of voting taking the number of states but also a percentage of total population of states in favour. The French opposed this as Germany would end up with more votes than France. There was a long and difficult list of issues to resolve and changes to be

agreed unanimously. The 1996 IGC started in Turin and immediately became bogged down in the UK’s row with EU partners over mad cow disease, during the most heated part of which the UK adopted a policy of total noncooperation. The British continued to be obstructive and of course other countries hid and concealed their own difficulties with proposed changes behind British intransigence. Then first the British followed by the French elections put the IGC on hold. Time was running out and the task too difficult. So the Treaty of Amsterdam, October 1997 fell far short of its intended objectives it failed to resolve any of the key issues of institutional reform (such as the maximum size of the Parliament, Court and Commission) and