EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Ioannina compromise

The Ioannina compromise takes its name from an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Greek city of Ioannina in late March 1994. At the meeting, the Council adopted a decision concerning qualified majority voting in an enlarged 16-member EU. The decision was later adjusted because of Norway’s decision not to join.

The resulting compromise laid down that if members of the Council representing between 23 votes (the old blocking minority threshold — number of votes needed to block a decision the approval of which needs a requires qualified majority for approval) and 26 votes (the new blocking minority threshold) demonstrated their intention to block a Council decision by qualified majority, the Council would do all within its power, within a reasonable space of time, to reach a satisfactory solution that could be adopted by at least 68 votes out of 87.

Article 16 of the Treaty on European Union introduces a new definition of the rule of qualified majority which applies from 1 November 2014 onwards.

However, between that date and 31 March 2017, it was possible for each EU Member State to ask for the previous weighting rules to be applied. It was also possible to apply the ‘Ioannina compromise’. This enabled countries representing at least three quarters of the EU’s population or at least three quarters of the number of Member States required to form a blocking minority, to block the vote for a Council act by qualified majority, in order to try to find a solution within a reasonable space of time.

From 1 April 2017, the new rule of qualified majority became compulsory. The activating percentage of the ‘Ioannina compromise’ was reduced to at least 55% of the EU’s population or at least 55% of the number of Member States required to constitute a blocking minority.