Qualified majority voting, QMV

A simple majority requires one more than half of the given votes.

An absolute majority requires more than 50% of all members, irrespective of the number of those voting.

Decision by qualified majority in the Council of Ministers currently requires 255 out of 345 votes. The votes of the member states are weighted.  


- In normal voting procedures in international organisations, every member has one vote each. In the EU Council of Ministers they normally vote with weighting votes where e.g. Ireland vote with 7 votes and Germany and the UK with 29 votes each.

- Qualified majority voting is the most common form of voting in the EU Council of Ministers.  

The future

From 1 November 2014 the Lisbon Treaty imposes a new system, where member states also vote according to their population. Then e.g. Ireland will vote with 4.4 million citizens and Gerany with 82 millions. The system require a „double majority” - as today where laws shall also have a majority of member states voting in favour.

From 2014 there shall be 55 % of the member states representing 65% of the population of the EU to adopt an act.

At least 4 countries are needed to block a decision while at least 15 countries must back up a decision for it to come into force.

Including the population factor mainly benefits the bigger countries while the "one country one vote" element benefits the smaller countries. The new system makes it much easier to take decisions. Today qualified majority requires 74 % of the weighted votes in the Council.

The Lisbon system requires 72 % of the  member states and 65 % of the populationfor the few cases where a proposal does not need a Commission initiative. In this lexicon we call it super-qualified majority. It is used when a new Commission shall be assembled and when the European Council shall elect its new permanent President.    



See also with the number of votes for each country in Voting in the Council. Majority voting


Number of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) articles introduced, or of unanimity articles moved to QMV, by the different European treaties





Number of

- QMV articles introduced or extended

- unanimity articles moved to QMV


Treaty of Rome (plus extensions)




Single European Act




Maastricht (Treaty on European Union)




Treaty of Amsterdam




Treaty of Nice




EU Constitution




Treaty of Lisbon


[1] Source:


- The Bruges Group, http://www.brugesgroup.com/med......nt.live?article=4056#footnote2

- The Extension of Qualified Majority Voting from the Treaty of Rome to the European Constitution, House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/54, 7 July 2004

[2] Source: Klaus Heeger, Comparison of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty with the earlier EU Constitution, EUWatch issue 8, October 2007

[3] Source: Klaus Heeger, Comparison of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty with the earlier EU Constitution, EUWatch issue 8, October 2007

List of 68 new areas for majority voting in the Lisbon Treaty can be downloaded from the front page of this euabc, first column