Brexit – the impact on decision-making in the Council of the EU
On 31st January the UK leaves the EU, and can no longer vote in Council.
What does this do for creating a qualified majority or a blocking minority?
Download here the post-Brexit Fipra voting card which gives the new numbers regarding population distribution calculated according to the Banzhaf index. We also invite you to check out our voting calculator App.
What will be different post Brexit?
- The Council’s three main approaches to voting are unanimity (all Member States), simple majority (50% +1 Member States) and qualified majority (55% Member States representing 65% of the population). Under qualified majority rules, at least 4 Member States representing 35% of the EU population can form a blocking minority – which would prevent any proposition from being adopted (even if a qualified majority is found).
- Member States are driven to find compromises – making the ability to form blocking minorities the cornerstone of the expression of voting power in the Council. Indeed, the search for compromise will lead other Member States to offer concessions to an existing or potential blocking minority – giving them a stronger ability to change the output of the decision-making process.
- The departure of the UK means that Member States with a large share of the population of the Union will see their ability to form such blocking minorities increase – thus increasing their ability to influence the outcome of a vote. Clear winners of this change in arithmetic are Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Spain. In particular, France and Germany have become key in forming blocking minorities – with most possible coalitions of 4 states having to include at least one of the two largest EU member States.
- In addition, the UK historically focused its political capital on votes related to budgetary matters, economic policy choices (liberalization vs status quo, as well as competitiveness), the consolidation of the internal market, global free trade, and security. In its approach to such topics, the UK was the most prominent member of like-minded States (Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands), and its departure means that its traditional allies will have to seek new alliances in order to retain their influence on such subjects.
- A key new coalition in the Council is the Hanze coalition – which includes Scandinavian, Baltic, and Benelux States as well as Ireland.
For more information and analysis or a copy of the wallet sized voting card
contact Grégoire Zammit