The Council (also known as the Council of Ministers) is made up of ministers from the EU’s national governments. The member states take it in turns to hold the Council Presidency for a six-month period. Every Council meeting is attended by one minister from each EU country. Which ministers attend a meeting depends on which topic is on the agenda: foreign aff airs, agriculture, industry, transport, the environment, etc.
The Council’s main job is to pass EU laws. Normally it shares this responsibility with the European Parliament. The Council and the Parliament also share equal responsibility for adopting the EU budget. In addition, the Council signs international agreements that have been negotiated by the Commission. According to the Lisbon Treaty, the Council has to take its decisions either by a simple majority vote, a ‘qualified majority’ vote or unanimously, depending on the subject to be decided.
The Council has to agree unanimously onimportant questions such as taxation,amending the Treaties, launching a new commonpolicy or allowing a new country to join the Union.In most other cases, qualifi ed majority voting isused. This means that a Council decision is adoptedif a specifi ed minimum number of votes are cast inits favour.The number of votes allocated to each EU countryroughly refl ects the size of its population.
Until 1 November 2014, assuming the EU still has 27 member states, a decision is adopted if: at least 255 of the 347 votes (i.e. 73.91 %) are cast in favour; it is approved by a majority of member states, i.e. at least 14; i f these favourable member states represent at least 62 % of the EU’s population.
1. What’s the Council’s main job? 2. How many votes at least have to be casted in favour?