Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

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The paragraphs above provide for a probably slightly caricatural insider view of the strategy (sometimes of the tactics) of the Commission.

On the whole, it immediately took the view that Amsterdam was going to be a milestone along the road, not an end product.

Commentators who were expecting some great institutional overhaul before the enlargement have been disappointed and have - for the moment- rather written off Amsterdam.

But it has to be said that after two years of work and reflection, the great institutional debate has proved to be curiously elusive.

A few things seem quite certain, which will considerably shape any future institutionnal discussion:

1.Nobody wants to consider a "tabula rasa" out of which a brand new system would be rebuilt; to depart radically from the recipe of so far a success story, seems a non-starter;

2.The issues postponed in Amsterdam (reweighting the votes in the Council; the number of commissioners) do not amount to any radically new system either; they can probably be solved when pressure mounts immediately before the next enlargement;

3.There is no magic formula that can confound mathematics: the functioning of Europe will inevitably be more difficult at 21 or 30, than at 6 or 15;

4.As a result, most of the urgent measures are issues of fine tuning. In particular with the Council, institution which will be the most affected by the enlargement;

5.Ultimately, there is one single major reform: the general use of majority voting. It is on this score that the Treaty still has far to go: in the short term for justice and home affairs; progressively for foreign policy; and finally for the amendment of the Treaty itself. Europe will then have a proper Constitution.

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