What is at stake at the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), and why is the timing so crucial? The fundamental aim, as with its two immediate predecessors, is to try to create an effective, efﬁcient and democratic Union able to function with twenty ﬁve or more members. Neither the treaties of Amsterdam nor Nice brought the sort of wide-ranging reforms that were needed, and so the Treaty of Nice called for a new IGC, perpetuating what has become an almost constant process of treaty reform and renegotiation.
In addition, the Treaty of Nice required the Swedish and Belgian governments, which were to hold the EU presidency during 2001, to open a dialogue on the future of Europe, with particular emphasis on bringing the political elite closer to the public. The December 2001 Laeken summit agreed to a convention on the future of Europe, which would prepare for the new IGC.