Inching Toward EU Supranationalism? Qualified Majority Voting and Unanimity Under the Treaty of Lisbon
Stephen C. Sieberson
Creighton University - School of Law
Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 50, No. 4, 2010
The European Union’s senior legislative body, the Council, can make decisions either by unanimity or by a qualified majority vote (QMV). When unanimity is required, each Member State can block the action by voting against the matter at hand. When QMV applies, EU action can be taken over the objection of a Member State. Thus, whenever QMV is utilized there is the effect of undermining the sovereignty of an objecting Member State, because it is bound by the action despite its objection. Another way to characterize the phenomenon is to say that where a Member State loses sovereignty the EU becomes increasingly supranational in character.
This article examines the EU’s most recent treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon, to determine where it has shifted unanimous decision-making (under the previous treaties) to QMV. In addition, the article examines new subjects for EU action for which QMV has been selected rather than unanimity. The article also identifies all the remaining subjects for unanimity under the amended Treaties and discusses whether any of these subjects may be amenable to being changed to QMV in the future. The author concludes that any supranationalizing tendencies under the Treaty of Lisbon are incremental, and that there is not a significant undermining of Member State sovereignty.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 78
Keywords: Treaty of Lisbon, EU, qualified majority vote
Date posted: August 23, 2010