European Council decides by qualified majority - EU monitor

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Saturday, October 19, 2019
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Source: Europa Nu.

The European Council adopts a proposal when the following conditions are met:

  • a minimum of 55% of the member states, with a minimum of 15 member states, vote in favor. These votes are counted using a 'one member state, one vote' system; weighed voting is not applied
  • the member states in favor represent a minimum of 65% of the total population of the EU

A quorum of two-thirds of the member states is required in order for a vote to be called.

Near blocking minorities

When a proposal is approved but the votes against represent 55% or more of the votes required by either of the conditions to block a proposal those member states who voted against may call to postpone a decision. The Council then proceeds to find a satisfactory solution that meets the objections raised by opposing member states.

Between the 1st of November 2014 and the first of april 2017 the percentage is set at 75% instead of 55%.

1.

Application

This voting method applies only when the European Treaties make explicit mention of it. It is only mentioned in limited number of policy areas. In each case it concerns topics of lesser political importance.

2.

Legal framework

Voting by simple majority is based on the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

  • application voting method: should voting by qualified majority apply this is explicitly mentioned in the European Treaties for each policy area
  • on weighing votes: part six TFEU title I chapter 1 section 2 art. 235 paragraph 1 (reference to TEU title III art. 16 paragraph 4 and part six TFEU title I chapter I section 3 art. 238 paragraph 3a)
  • reconsider: declaration on art. 16 paragraph 4 TEU and art. 238 TFEU

3.

Distribution of votes

The European Council uses the same distribution of votes as the Council of Ministers. The distribution of votes is based on the principle that countries with a larger population have more votes then countries with a small population. The division of votes is corrected in favour of countries with a small population.

 

# votes

% votes

Countries

29

8,2

France, Germany, Italy, UK

27

7,7

Poland, Spain

14

4,0

Romania

13

3,7

Netherlands

12

3,4

Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal

10

2,8

Austria, Bulgaria, Sweden

7

2,0

Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia

4

1,1

Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Slovenia

3

0,9

Malta

At the behest of a member state it can be examined whether a vote in favour represents at least 62% of the population of the European Union.

Near blocking minorities

When a significant minority has voted against a proposal (more then three quarters need to form a blocking minority) but failed to reach a blocking minority they may request to postpone the vote to allow for additional deliberation to attempt to take away the objections raised by the opposing minority.