Online Debate | Constitutional Design of the European Union: Getting Rid of the Unanimity Rule | Conversations for the Future of Europe | 2020 #4

3rd June 2020 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
European Governance and Politics Programme


Decision-making by means of qualified majority voting in the Council, rather than unanimity, is an essential means of maintaining the European Union’s capacity to act when the number of member states is as high as it is today. The Lisbon Treaty did indeed shift the voting rules for a number of policy areas, but today many decisions of the EU are still subject to unanimity. In 2018, the European Commission made two concrete proposals to change this, one to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in selected areas of Common Foreign and Security Policy, followed by another one proposing a similar shift to QMV for selected issues of tax policy. I will argue that the time has come to do away with unanimous decision-making in all areas of EU policy and for all kinds of decisions, including for the revision of the EU Treaties themselves, if we want to preserve the Union’s capacity to act.


Lorenzo Cicchi (EUI – European Governance and Politics Programme)


Bruno de Witte (EUI – Law Department)


Philipp Genschel (EUI – Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)

Deirdre Curtin (EUI – Department of Law)

Please note: the Conversation will take place via ZOOM. Participation is only possible upon registration. The link to the meeting will be sent only to registered participants.

Conversations for the Future of Europe February – June 2020

Objective: To guide the steps of the European Union and to mobilise its citizens so as to make policy change possible, it is not sufficient to analyse the past and criticise the present. It is necessary to develop concrete proposals for a better future and to subject them to critical multidisciplinary discussion. The Conversations for the Future of Europe aim to contribute to such discussion. The focus of our Conversations will be to consider concrete and politically feasible projects which may guide the future development of the Union. A concern for political applicability, however, is compatible with creativity and boldness. Indeed, it may require it.

Format: Each Conversation will focus on one issue manifesting as a major challenge to the EU. The issue will be briefly introduced by one or two speakers, presenting a brief proposal for how to address this challenge. Presentations will be followed by comments from one or two discussants after which, there will be a general discussion.

Output: The aim of the Conversations is to facilitate debate and inspire far-sighted, creative ideas for how to address current policy problems.


Brigid Laffan (EUI – Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)

Philippe van Parijs (Robert Schuman Fellow and Université Catholique de Louvain)

Andrea Sangiovanni (EUI – Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Juri Viehoff (EUI – Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Lorenzo Cicchi (EUI – European Governance and Politics Programme)



All events part of the Conversations on the Future of Europe series can be found here.