Written Answer to a Question: Changes to distribution of votes in the Council after Brexit

Written answer by the Commission to a question (Rule 130) by Sven Schulze (EPP) regarding “Changes to distribution of votes in the Council after Brexit”.

The withdrawal of a Member State from the European Union is addressed by article 50 TEU. In this framework, following the notification by the United Kingdom of its intention to leave the European Union, the European Council adopted guidelines on 29 April 2017. Throughout these negotiations the Union will maintain its unity and act as one with the aim of reaching a result that is fair and equitable for all Member States and in the interest of its citizens, while minimising the uncertainty for its citizens, businesses and Member States caused by the United Kingdom’s decision. The Union will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

The Council has not discussed the issues referred to by the Honourable Member.

Question for written answer P-001864/2017
to the Commission
Rule 130
Sven Schulze (EPP)

Subject: Changes to distribution of votes in the Council after Brexit

The threat of less free trade and more protectionism in the future comes not only from current American policy but also from within the EU, with the loss of a country which is closely linked to free trade: the UK.

Most votes in the Council require 55% of the Member States representing 65% of the EU’s population. Looked at the other way, this means that Member States comprising at least 35% of the EU’s population have a blocking minority. Together with the UK, other countries dedicated to free trade and open economic ties such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland have a combined population of 35%, which is exactly the proportion needed for a blocking minority.

This balance will disappear with Brexit, as the Member States which are particularly supportive of free trade will comprise only 25% of the total population. They will no longer have a blocking minority against economic projects launched by Member States which pursue state-interventionist or protectionist economic policies and could therefore damage the economic model based on free trade.

Are talks prompted by Member States under way in the Council — or is there currently any reflection — not only on adjusting the future external relationship with the UK as part of the Brexit negotiations but also on reviewing the internal relationships and rules on decision-making in the Council as part of a package solution?

View the question and answer on the European Parliament’s website

Source: European Parliament

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