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Qualified majority

A qualified majority (QM) is the number of votes required in the Council for a decision to be adopted when issues are being debated on the basis of Article  16 of the Treaty on European Union and Article  238 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, the Council acts by QM, in codecision with the Parliament.

On 1  November 2014, a new procedure for QM voting, the ‘double majority’ rule, was introduced. Here, when the Council votes on a proposal by the Commission or the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a QM is reached if two conditions are met:

  • 55  % of EU countries vote in favour - i.e. 16 out of 28;
  • the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65  % of the total EU population.

When the Council votes on a proposal not made by the Commission or the High Representative, a decision is adopted if:

  • there are 72  % of EU country votes in favour; and
  • they represent at least 65  % of the EU population.

Until 31 March 2017, any EU country may request that a decision be taken in accordance with the rules in force before 1  November 2014 (i.e. in accordance with the rules as defined by the Treaty of Nice).