Sunday 22 March 2009

Lisbon Treaty & European Council: Simple majority decisions

After looking at qualified majority voting (QMV) in the European Council, we turn to the instances when it takes its decisions by simple majority.



Treaty amendment ─ With or without IGC?

When a member state, the European Parliament or the Commission has submitted to the Council a proposal for the amendment of the treaties, Article 48 TEU under the ordinary revision procedure, sees the European Council deciding by a simple majority to examine the proposed amendments. Normally, this leads to a Convention, but the European Council can decide by a simple majority to refer “small change” directly to an intergovernmental conference (IGC):

Article 48(3) TEU

3. If the European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, adopts by a simple majority a decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments, the President of the European Council shall convene a Convention composed of representatives of the national Parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and of the Commission. The European Central Bank shall also be consulted in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. The Convention shall examine the proposals for amendments and shall adopt by consensus a recommendation to a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States as provided for in paragraph 4.

The European Council may decide by a simple majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, not to convene a Convention should this not be justified by the extent of the proposed amendments. In the latter case, the European Council shall define the terms of reference for a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States.


Procedural questions & Rules of Procedure

According to Article 235(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Council decides by simple majority on procedural questions and the adoption of its Rules of Procedure:

Article 235(3) TFEU

3. The European Council shall act by a simple majority for procedural questions and for the adoption of its Rules of Procedure.

(We are still waiting for progress reports on the preparatory work and concrete proposals concerning the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon. Among the awaited proposals is the one with the European Council’s Rules of Procedure.)


The next post is going to indicate the voting rules (a tribute payment to the constraints of unanimous treaty amendment).

Ralf Grahn

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