The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

WELCOME HOME, POLAND
into europa
In the words of President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the Polish state decided to "come back to Europe" this weekend.

That begs the question: Where was Poland this whole time? In Asia? No, of course, "coming back" means, in this instance, joining the EU, where all the hip Euro-states hang out now.

One odd aspect of this referendum was the impact of overseas votes by expatriate Poles who retained their citizenship. None are so important than those coming from Chicago, the largest Polish city after Warsaw.

Take note of the makeup of the EU Council, which is where the primary decision-making powers of the European government resides:

The threshold for qualified majority voting is 62 votes out of 87 (71% of all votes). The votes of the Member States are weighted according to population and adjusted in favour of the less populous countries in the following way: Germany, France, Italy and the UK have 10 votes; Spain has 8; Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal have 5; Austria and Sweden 4; Denmark, Ireland and Finland 3; Luxembourg 2.


Poland, with a present population of 38 million, would be on par with Spain, and thus have 8 Council votes. Of course, that's not going to happen for a while. Basically, the initiation rites call for only limited participation in EU government for a number of years, with full membership not coming until later. One of the reasons why opponents of union don't want to join under these conditions.

For myself, I wonder how the Polish entry affects Greece. Presently, a big chunk of Greece's slave labor--oops, I mean migrant labor, what was I thinking--comes from Poland. I'm not sure that relationship will be the same once both states are equal members. In any case, I'm sure the Greeks are more interested in Cyprus' coming entry into the EU, and perhaps how Turkey will react afterward.