New voting rules in the EU Council of Ministers from 1st November

On 1st November, the new Lisbon treaty voting rules for the Council of the European Union enter into force. In comparison to the existing Nice treaty rules (and considerably simplified, for more details see especially Table A3 in the online appendix to an article I wrote on the topic), the new rules reduce the overall threshold for reaching a qualified majority from about 74 to 65 percent and allocate voting weights of individual member states in direct proportion to member states' population size. The figure below shows that the clear winners of this reform, at least in terms of increased voting weight, are the larger member states, whereas the medium-sized and small states lose out. However, the full effect of the changes in the voting rules are unlikely to be felt before April 2017. Until that point in time, any member state can still request that a Council decision is to be adopted according to the old Nice treaty rules. Whether the new voting rules will make any difference until then for the way the Council makes decisions will mainly depend on how readily member states are willing to take advantage of this right to request the application of the old rules.

Council voting weights