I found this article from Dagens Nyheter (temporary link) very interesting.
“‘If anything, I think we work more effectively now than we did before, even though we’re almost twice as many’ an EU diplomat tells Dagens Nyheter.
‘People stop to think one more time, if what they’re going to say really adds something new or is just a way of [looking good?] in front of their colleagues, says an experienced negotiator.
Since the new arrivals signed the accession treaty in Athens this April they get to participate in the Council of Ministers as observers. They attend all meetings, on all levels. They have access to all documents. They have complete freedom of expression, and may also bring up issues they want to dicuss on their own. In short, they have everything except the right to vote.
The thinking is to give them the possibility to learn what’s on the agenda, and how things are done.
‘In the beginning it was the same old countries that dominated and the newbies were mostly quiet. But now they’re picking up steam. In questions of importance to them they’re active, and both can and want to influence decisions, even if they can’t be a part in making them.’
The Poles are among those that most often speak up. They’re big, they’re many and they’re hard bargainers. Representatives of the Baltic countries are also fairly active, as well as Hungarians and Czechs.
With 25 [delegations] around the table, everyone realizes that they can’t be too longwinded. Even if every country only would speak for three minutes there would be an hour and a half of debating. Just to do one item on the agenda.
Negotiations are therefore more to the point. The elaborate flowery language has been cut down, and silence has increasingly come to signal agreement. This is true on all levels, from the working groups to the ambassador’s preparatory meetings to the ministers’ Council meetings.”
(Crap translation by me)
This suggests that people like for instance Chris Bertram were wrong:
“But getting back to enlargement …. My take on this, for what it’s worth, is that it gives the UK everything that lukewarm Europhiles/moderate Eurosceptics have always wanted. EU will now be so large and will vary so much in cultural and economic conditions that a thoroughgoing federalist project is dead in the water. The centre – Brussels and Strasbourg – will be fatally weakened vis-?-vis the component parts of the union because twenty-five (or more) states will find it almost impossible to reach agreement on anything but the most anodyne proposals.”
And that I was right.
And hey, seems I was right about this too. DN writes: “How the countries line up depends more on the issue and where one can get support than old bonds and allegniances.”
Update: Slightly edited.