How the EU makes laws


    Commission sends a proposal to Parliament and Council    
    Parliament gives opinion
Commission amends proposal
Council approves all Parliament's amendments.
Act adopted
  Parliament approves the Proposal.
Council may adopt the Act
  By QMV, Council rejects some or all amendments.
Establishes common position
    Parliament examines common position of Council    
Parliament approves common position, takes no action   Parliament by absolute majority rejects the common position.
Act not adopted
  By absolute majority Parliament proposes amendments
Act is adopted       Commission opinion
Parliament (by absolute majority), and Council (by QMV), adopt the Act   Council does not approve all Parliament's amendments.
Conciliation Committee. Commission takes part.
  Council approves the amendments.
Act is adopted
Conciliation Committee reaches agreement.   Conciliation Committee does not reach agreement.
Act falls

QMV = Qualified Majority Voting

Decisions in the Council are taken by vote. Countries with a larger population have more votes. But to be fair to smaller countries the numbers are weighted in their favour.

Usually the Council takes decisions by qualified majority voting (QMV). The 28 EU countries have a total of 345 votes between them.

A qualified majority is reached

  • if the measure is approved by a majority of the member states (on some issues a two-thirds majority is needed), and ...
  • a minimum of 255 votes has been cast in favour;
  • a member state may also ask for confirmation that the votes in favour represent at least 62% of the total population of the Union. If this is not so, the decision cannot be adopted.