When Messrs. Klaus and Mečiar decided to separate the Czech and Slovak Republics, they were most certainly not aware that by doing so they would strengthen the role of their countries in the European Union. Indeed, if Czechoslovakia had remained as it was before 1993, the country would have received the same number of seats in the European Parliament - and probably also the same voting power in the Council - as the Netherlands, which has a population close to that of the Czech Republic and Slovakia together. However, the institutional arrangements as agreed at the Nice European Council (for 27 member states) adapted for 25 member states give the following picture.
Whereas the Netherlands end up with 13 weighted votes in the Council, the Czech Republic and Slovakia together benefit from 19 weighted votes (ie 50 per cent more). In the European Parliament, the Netherlands will have 27 seats, against 41 for the two central Visegrad states.
So together, and that is precisely what they will be in the EU, the Czechs and the Slovaks get a better deal than had they stayed together as one state. More seats, more weight, and one language more! I am convinced that neither Klaus nor Mečiar even distantly could have dreamed that their decision would give their countries, taken together, more weight in the EU.
This is what one might call an unexpected benefit. With hindsight, those who were critical towards the separation should thank the then-leaders.
18. Nov 2002 at 0:00