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Enhanced cooperation

Enhanced cooperation (Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union and Title III of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) is a procedure where a minimum of 9 EU Member States are allowed to set up advanced integration or cooperation in a particular field within the EU, when it has become clear that the EU as a whole cannot achieve the goals of such cooperation within a reasonable period.

This allows them to move at different speeds and towards different goals than those Member States who decide to stay outside the fields of enhanced cooperation. The procedure is designed to overcome stalemate where a particular proposal is blocked by one or more Member States who do not want to take part. It does not, however, allow for an extension of powers outside those permitted by the EU Treaties.

Authorisation to proceed with the enhanced cooperation is granted by the Council as a last resort, on a proposal from the European Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

As of February 2013, this procedure was being used in the fields of divorce law, patents and financial transaction tax, and to protect the financial interests of the EU by setting up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).