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Democrat May-June 2010 (Number 118)

How the EU Operates - After Lisbon

Qualified Majority voting
Council of Ministers and European Council

European Council

From 1 November 2014 the European Constitution (aka Lisbon Treaty) imposes a new system, where EU Member States also vote according to their population. Then, eg, Ireland will vote with 4.4 million citizens and Germany with 82 millions. The system requires a “double majority” - as today where laws shall also have a majority of Member States voting in favour.


European Council meeting


   From 2014 to adopt legislation or a policy will have to be supported by 55% of the Member States representing 65% of the population of the EU.

   To block a proposal at least four countries are needed while at least 15 countries must back up a decision for it to come into force.

   The inclusion of the population factor into this voting system mainly benefits the bigger countries while the "one country one vote" element benefits the smaller countries. The new system makes it much easier to take decisions. 

   Currently qualified majority requires 74% of the weighted votes in the Council.

   The Lisbon system requires 72% of the Member States and 65% of the population for the few cases where a proposal does not need a Commission initiative. This has been called a super-qualified majority (SQMV). It is used when a new Commission is appointed and when the European Council elects its new permanent President.

   The latest QMV system means the three big countries—Germany, Britain and France can dominate decision making.

   As shown in the table below nearly 70 more areas have now been transferred to QMV by the EU Constitution. This means these areas have been taken away from national governments and parliaments.

   Voting arrangements in the European Parliament are on a simple majority and no QMV. MEPs sit in political groups which have to be more than 25 MEPs from at least five Member States. This institution votes on reports of legislation agreed at the European Council and Council of ministers level. These are handled by the Commission. In theory the European Parliament has joint powers with the Council but in practice this is not proving the case.


See two flow charts of 'who elects whom' and 'who has the power'


Summary of QMV in
European Treaties

Treaty (year)  -  Articles moved to QMV

Treaty of Rome (1957)

38

Single European Act(1986)

12

Maastricht (1992)

30

Amsterdam (1997)

24

Treaty of Nice (2001)

46

Treaty of Lisbon (2009)

68


Voting systems

A simple majority requires one vote more than half of the given votes.
An absolute majority requires more than 50% of all members, irrespective of the number of those voting.
Decision by qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers currently requires 255 out of 345 votes. The votes of the Member States are weighted.
In normal voting procedures in international organisations, every member has one vote each. In the EU Council of Ministers they normally vote with weighted votes where e.g. Ireland has 7 votes and Germany and Britain with 29 votes each.
Qualified majority voting is the most common form of voting in the EU Council of Ministers.
The Commission initiates legislation in the EU.


Member State

Nice

Lisbon

MEPs
European Parliament

Votes

%

pop

%

2007

2009

Lisbon

Germany

29

8.4

82

16.5

99

99

96

France

29

8.4

64

12.9

78

72

74

Britain

29

8.4

62

12.4

78

72

73

Italy

29

8.4

60

12.0

78

72

73

Spain

27

7.8

46

9.0

54

50

54

Poland

27

7.8

38

7.6

54

50

51

Romania

14

4.1

21

4.3

35

33

33

Nethrlnds

13

3.8

17

3.3

27

25

26

Greece

12

3.5

11

2.2

24

22

22

Portugal

12

3.5

11

2.1

24

22

22

Belgium

12

3.5

11

2.1

24

22

22

CzechRep

12

3.5

10

2.1

24

22

22

Hungary

12

3.5

10

2.0

24

22

22

Sweden

10

2.9

9.2

1.9

19

18

20

Austria

10

2.9

8.3

1.7

18

17

19

Bulgaria

10

2.9

7.6

1.5

18

17

18

Denmark

7

2.0

5.5

1.1

14

13

13

Slovakia

7

2.0

5.4

1.1

14

13

13

Finland

7

2.0

5.3

1.1

14

13

13

Ireland

7

2.0

4.5

0.9

13

12

12

Lithuania

7

2.0

3.3

0.7

13

12

12

Latvia

4

1.2

2.2

0.5

9

8

8

Slovenia

4

1.2

2.0

0.4

7

7

8

Estonia

4

1.2

1.3

0.3

6

6

6

Cyprus

4

1.2

0.87

0.2

6

6

6

Luxembourg

4

1.2

0.49

0.1

6

6

6

Malta

3

O.9

0.41

0.1

5

5

6

Total

345

100%

498

100%

785

736

751

Majority

255

74%

324

65%

< --  Totals  -- >