Absolute majority of members (European Parliament)

The European Parliament, Strasbourg, 5 May 2009 (Photo: www.kirkhope.org.uk)

Usually, the European Parliament takes its decisions by a simple majority of those members taking part in a vote.  In many cases, for example in co-decision, budget matters and the assent procedure, it decides by an absolute majority. This is a majority of all its members, regardless of whether or not all are present.

From July 2009,  an absolute majority was 369 of 736 MEPs. When the Lisbon Treaty enters into force and a new Protocol is approved by all 27 member states it will be 378 out of 754 until July 2014.

Then Germany will lose 3 seats and go from 99 to 96, and the absolute majority will be 376 out of 751 MEPs.

New enlargements may change the figures again.

After the 2004 enlargement (with ten new member states), the number of votes needed for an absolute majority was 367 out of 732. After the accession of Romania and Bulgaria the absolute majority required 393 out of 785 votes.

If MEPs want to censure the Commission, a two-thirds majority of those voting, as well as an absolute majority of the members, is needed.

An absolute majority may also change if an MEP place is vacant. 

Links

Supranational decision-making procedures http://www.europarl.eu.int/factsheets/1_4_1_en.htm  

The decision-making triangle http://europa.eu/abc/12lessons/lesson_4/index_en.htm

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament http://www.europarl.europa.eu/......guage=EN&reference=TOC#top