EU Continues to Reduce the Authority of the State


There are significant changes coming, to the way the EU conducts its decision making business.

Firstly the qualified majority voting (QMV) mechanism is changing.

Currently decisions are made by QMV as defined in the Treaty of Nice as follows:

  • Majority of countries: 50% + one, if proposal made by the Commission; or else at least two-thirds (66.67%), and
  • Majority of voting weights: 74%, and
  • Majority of population: 62%. (This last condition is only checked upon request by a member state).

The voting weights of the member states according to this treaty have varied depending on the number of countries in the EU, and can be found here. This system seeks to ensure that, to some extent, the number of people in each country are considered, and those with larger populations have greater weighting. Although as the table at the link above shows, this method still favours the smaller countries over the big 4 (Germany, France, UK, Italy).

From November 2014, the system will be significantly changed to the Lisbon rules:

  • Majority of countries: 55%, comprising at least 15 of them, if acting on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative, or else 72%, and
  • Majority of population: 65%.
  • A blocking minority requires – in addition to not meeting one of the two conditions above – that at least 4 countries vote against the proposal. Thus, there may be cases where an act is passed, even though the population condition is not met. This precludes scenarios where 3 populous countries could block a decision against the other 24 countries.

This change in strategy shifts the relative weight of the individual member states even more in favour of the smaller countries over the larger ones, further reducing the UK’s impact.

Up to now, decisions concerning a large number of areas of EU law are required to be passed unanimously, however this is also set to change in November when QMV is introduced to 39 areas currently requiring unanimous voting, and four new areas of legislation are added. This will further undermine the UK’s ability to affect law making within Europe as it will be impossible for a single country to stop any of the legislation, in fact it will need a minimum of four countries to be in disagreement.

The change will also mean that no domestic law can be enacted that has any bearing on any of the 43 aspects of government without the approval of the EU by majority voting of other members. We could, for example, be asked to drive on the right and there is nothing we could do about it. But that is a trivial matter compared what could be pushed our way, against our national interests.

The areas changing from unanimity to QMV are;
1. Rules concerning the Armaments Agency
2. Freedom to establish a business
3. Self-employment access rights
4. Freedom, security and justice – cooperation and evaluation
5. Border checks
6. Asylum
7. Immigration
8. Crime prevention incentives
9. Eurojust
10. Police cooperation
11. Europol
12. Transport
13. European Central Bank
14. Culture Unanimity
15. Structural and Cohesion Funds
16. Organisation of the Council of the European Union
17. European Court of Justice
18. Freedom of movement for workers
19. Social security
20. Criminal judicial cooperation
21. Criminal law
22. Funding the Common Foreign and Security Policy
23. Common defence policy
24. General economic interest services
25. Diplomatic and consular protection
26. Citizens initiative regulations
27. Intellectual property
28. Eurozone external representation
29. Sport
30. Space
31. Energy
32. Tourism
33. Civil protection
34. Administrative cooperation
35. Emergency international aid
36. Humanitarian aid
37. Committee of the Regions
38. Economic and Social Committee
39. The EU budget

The new areas added are;
40. Response to natural disasters or terrorism
41. President of the European Council election
42. Foreign Affairs High Representative election
43. Withdrawal of a member state

Note in particular the last bullet – this change in policy implies that we won’t even be able to leave the EU without getting agreement from the EU to do so!

This goes to show how far the EU is prepared to evolve to protect itself and its own interests and how little it values the individual member states and their people – we are on an inexorable march towards a United States of Europe and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Apart from leave – #No2EU #VoteUKIP.





5 responses to “EU Continues to Reduce the Authority of the State

  1. You do know that you are wrong about QMV being extended to new areas in November, don’t you? A simple check with would reveal this.

    Plagiarising Wikipedia, too. That’s bad.

    And you’re wrong on voting weights. The table you link to doesn’t show the changes in voting weights.


    • Many thanks for your comment. Always happy to be corrected. I have to say that, like much EU policy making, I find these changes somewhat opaque.

      Re your first comment – Reading around a few articles again suggests that November is the start of the transition to using the new QMV system and that this change will take place gradually until 2017 – I assume that is what you are alluding to although I couldn’t find anything specific on this at the web site you refer to, if you have a specific URL that I can look at please let me know.

      Not sure I’d agree with the term plagiarise. I certainly copied the definition of past and present QMV systems and the list of areas affected from the Wiki definition (adding the links to Eurojust and Europol too) as Wiki was the easiest to understand of the many statements I found, but since these are simply statements of known fact it hardly constitutes stealing someone else’s ideas. And I link back to the page so I’m clearly not trying to take credit for it.

      You’re right that the table doesn’t show new weights, I referenced it to indicate the concept of voting weights vs population. My main point from the article was to indicate that the UK effectively loses its veto in a number of areas as the voting regime shifts from unanimity to QMV.



  3. Thanks for the polite reply.

    What I actually meant was that QMV is not being extended to new areas in November – the changes took place in 2009 when Lisbon was agreed. If you go to, they show the votes by the Council and the rules by which the vote was decided. You’ll see that votes in the areas that you claim are decided by unanimity have been decided by QMV.


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