Wednesday, 2 December 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty: Convoy principle strikes again (QMV)

„Warum einfach, wenn es auch kompliziert geht?“ The European Union is legendary for its ability to complicate matters when it acts or fails to act, especially in the fields of intergovernmental cooperation. The EU advances according to the convoy principle, at the speed of the slowest member.

The Lisbon Treaty has been praised as a reform to make the EU institutions more effective, but the price of the unanimity rule was to delay the effect of the new provisions on qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council, enough to confound all but the most persistent followers of EU affairs.

As a semi-perennial monument to the ingenuity of the Polish Kaczynski twins, aficionados of EU affairs were left with a four stage process of transition to the so called double majority:

1. Nice Treaty rules in force until 31 October 2014
2. Lisbon Treaty rules from 1 November 2014, but subject to
3. Transitional rules from 1 November 2014 to 31 Mars 2017, still tempered by
4. Delaying action from 1 April 2017 (Ioannina compromise)

Formally, one part of this mess has now been officially published in the Official Journal of the European Union:




Council decision of 13 December 2007 relating to the implementation of Article 9C(4) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 205(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union between 1 November 2014 and 31 March 2017 on the one hand, and as from 1 April 2017 on the other (2009/857/EC); OJEU 1.12.2009 L 314/73.


N.B. After renumbering, Article 9c TEU is Article 16 TEU in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty, and Article 205 TFEU has become Article 238 TFEU.

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The governments of the EU member states are not devoid of a sense of wry humour. The Council decision starts by stating the reasons (Whereas):


Provisions should be adopted allowing for a smooth transition from the system for decision-making in the Council by a qualified majority...




Ralf Grahn



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