Treaty of Nice
The Treaty of Nice of 2000 made a number of important changes to the Treaties, especially with a view to enlargement of the Community by the accession of new Member States. Most attention was directed to questions concerning the composition of the Commission (increase in numbers to take account of the then acceding countries) and the weighting of votes (mainly in favour of larger Member States) and voting procedures in the Council of Ministers (significant extension of qualified majority voting to many policy areas currently requiring unanimity).
There was one change to the qualified majority voting procedure which had an impact on the field of employment and industrial relations. As regards the co-decision procedure and qualified majority voting, the position remained as previously determined. However, a provision was inserted (Article 137(2), paragraph 3 EC) allowing for a unanimous decision of the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, to authorise qualified majority voting in three cases where unanimity was the rule: in Article 137(1) EC: (d) (‘protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated’, (f) (‘representation and collective defence of the interests of workers and employers’) and (g) (‘conditions of employment for third-country nationals legally residing in Community territory’).
The European Council of Nice also approved the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prepared by the Convention, but reserved for the future a decision as to its legal status. The Treaty of Nice came into force on 1 February 2003.
See also: co-decision procedure; competences of the European Union; Council voting procedure; EU law; European Court of Justice; European Parliament; Lisbon Strategy; qualified majority voting; Single European Act; social exclusion; Treaties of Rome; Treaty of Amsterdam; Treaty of Maastricht; Treaty of Paris; treaty provisions.