This press release, issued on 17 April 1997 to mark the 2000th meeting of the Council of the European Union, held on 21 and 22 April 1997 in Luxembourg, outlines the key dates, events and figures which have played a role in the development of the institution, and, in particular, in its operation, over the past 30 years.
This board, located in the main entrance hall of the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels, displays the time of and venue for the meetings of the Council and of its preparatory bodies on 9 February 2004.
On 14 January 1962, following 140 hours of negotiations, the first European ‘agricultural marathon’ concludes with the decision of the Council of Ministers of the Six to move to the second stage of the transitional period and to organise common agricultural markets for each product, to apply specific rules on competition and to create a European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
In this interview, Charles Rutten, former Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the European Communities, recalls how, and for what purpose, agricultural marathons gradually developed as a negotiating method in the Council.
In this interview, Catherine Lalumière, former State Secretary to the Minister for Economic Affairs, Finance and the Budget with special responsibility for Consumer Affairs (1983–1984), recalls the establishment of the Internal Market Council, which she chaired during the first half of 1984.
During the Council sessions and those of its preparatory bodies, the delegations change place every six months, on the first day of January and of July, moving one seat to the left in accordance with the order of rotation followed by the presidencies. This interactive diagram shows the order of succession of the presidencies of the Fifteen, from 1 July 1998 to 31 December 2005, following the end of the second ‘round of twelve' and before the start of the ‘round of twenty-five'.
The ‘Luxembourg Compromise’ of 29 January 1966 brings to an end what is known as France’s ‘empty chair’ policy. From 1966 to 1985, the Luxembourg Compromise is invoked by Member States in order to secure unanimity as the standard Council decision-making procedure.
In this interview, Charles Rutten, former Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the European Communities, discusses the period of the ‘empty chair’ crisis and its resolution through the Luxembourg Compromise.
The Council Decision of 29 March 1994 concerning the taking of decisions by qualified majority gives effect to the ‘Ioannina Compromise’. This Compromise lays down that, where Members of the Council representing a number close to the blocking minority oppose the taking of a decision by qualified majority, the Council will do its utmost to reach, within a reasonsable period of time, a satisfactory solution that can be adopted by a larger consensus.
In an article published in July 1984 in the Revue du Marché commun, Xavier Deniau, legal adviser to the French Conseil d’État and French MP, compares the voting rules in the Council of the European Communities, as provided for by the treaties, with the institutional practice that has developed since 1958. He considers, in particular, the consequences of the Luxembourg Compromise of 29 January 1966 and notes the importance of the majority decision of 18 May 1982.
Declaration by the representatives of the 12 Member States of the European Union, meeting at the Intergovernmental Conference (ISG) convened in Ioannina on 30 March 1994, following the adoption by the Council the day before of the decision concerning the taking of decisions by qualified majority.
On 30 March 1994, the European Commission issues a press release concerning the adoption by the representatives of the twelve Member States of the European Union of the Declaration on the ‘Ioannina Compromise', following the informal meeting of the Council on 26 and 27 March 1994.
In November 1994, in advance of the Intergovernmental Conference of 1996, Daniel Vignes, Editor-in-Chief of the Revue du Marché commun et de l’Union européenne, takes a critical look at the Ioannina Compromise which, in his opinion disrupts the balance of the decision-making process designed by Paul-Henri Spaak and reduces the influence of the Franco-German partnership.
In an article published in 1995 in the Revue du Marché Unique Européen, Martin Bangemann, Member of the European Commission, defends the widespread use of majority voting in the Council in order to increase the efficiency of the Union.
Extract from the Presidency's report on the progress of the work of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), drawn up at the Florence European Council of 21 and 22 June 1996, concerning the extension of qualified?majority voting within the Council. The objective of the report is to provide an overall picture of the work carried out so far and to identify the major trends emerging vis-à-vis key political issues in preparation for the next stage of the IGC.
In a speech given on 14 March 2000, Michel Barnier, Member of the European Commission, explains the reasons for the additional contribution of the Commission to its opinion of 26 January 2000 on the extension of qualified-majority voting. In particular, Mr Barnier clarifies the criteria governing the move to qualified?majority voting in sensitive areas such as tax and social security, and clears up the confusion between a ‘transfer of powers’ and a ‘change in the decision?making process’.
Table showing the development of qualified majority voting in the Council of the European Union since the entry into force, on 1 January 1958, of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community.
Published in the Spanish daily newspaper El País during the Amsterdam Intergovenmental Conference held on 16 and 17 June 1997, this article describes how the system of weighting votes within the Council has evolved since the foundation of the European Communities, and summarises the arguments surrounding its reform.
In a speech given on 14 March 2000, Michel Barnier, Member of the European Commission, outlines the reasons for the additional contribution of the Commission to its opinion of 26 January 2000 on the extension of qualified-majority voting. In particular, Mr Barnier clarifies the criteria governing the move to qualified-majority voting in sensitive areas such as tax and social security and clears up the confusion between a ‘transfer of powers’ and a ‘change in the decision-making process’.
The author of this article, published on 20 January 2004 in the French daily newspaper Le Monde, outlines the historical reasons for the creation of a weighted voting system in the Council and the difficulties involved in introducing a new system based on an objective criterion, such as population.
On 27 March 2006, the Council adopts by qualified majority a Directive amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (Eurovignette), approving all of the amendments adopted by the European Parliament at second reading. The Portuguese and Maltese Delegations vote against, whilst the Estonian, Finnish and Greek Delegations abstain.
On 24 July 2006, the Council adopts without debate and by qualified majority a common position on a draft directive on services in the internal market. The Belgian and Lithuanian Delegations abstain. The common position is forwarded to the European Parliament for an opinion at second reading under the codecision procedure.