Analysis of Development Co-operation
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Treaty of Amsterdam - TEC TEU
Treaty of Maastricht - TEU

Article 16

1. The Council shall, jointly with the European Parliament, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall carry out policy-making and coordinating functions as laid down in the Treaties.

2. The Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level, who may commit the government of the Member State in question and cast its vote.

3. The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise.

4. As from 1 November 2014, a qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65 % of the population of the Union.

A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.

The other arrangements governing the qualified majority are laid down in Article 205(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. The transitional provisions relating to the definition of the qualified majority which shall be applicable until 31 October 2014 and those which shall be applicable from 1 November 2014 to 31 March 2017 are laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions.

6. The Council shall meet in different configurations, the list of which shall be adopted in accordance with Article 201b of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The General Affairs Council shall ensure consistency in the work of the different Council configurations. It shall prepare and ensure the follow-up to meetings of the European Council, in liaison with the President of the European Council and the Commission.

The Foreign Affairs Council shall elaborate the Union's external action on the basis of strategic guidelines laid down by the European Council and ensure that the Union's action is consistent.

7. A Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States shall be responsible for preparing the work of the Council.

8. The Council shall meet in public when it deliberates and votes on a draft legislative act. To this end, each Council meeting shall be divided into two parts, dealing respectively with deliberations on Union legislative acts and non-legislative activities.

9. The Presidency of Council configurations, other than that of Foreign Affairs, shall be held by Member State representatives in the Council on the basis of equal rotation, in accordance with the conditions established in accordance with Article 201b of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


  • The Council legislates jointly with the European Parliament.
  • The Council decides by qualified majority voting except where the Treaties provide otherwise.
  • From 1 November 2014, in order to achieve a qualified majority, the Council requires positive votes from 55% of Council members (representing at least 15 EU Member States and 65% of the EU's population.
  • A decision cannot be blocked by less than 4 Member States.
  • The EU's external actions will fall under the remit of the Foreign Affairs Council, which will ensure consistency between those actions.


  • Qualified majority voting is the general rule within the Council. Whenever the Foreign Affairs Council votes on an issue relating to development cooperation it should always use qualified majority voting.
  • Development cooepration and humanitarian aid will be discussed in the Foreign Affairs Council.
  • Prior to June 2002, development cooperation was discussed in the specific Development Council. This institutional arrangement facilitated a greater focus on development cooperation at both the EU and Member States' levels as the Development Council members were generally ministers for development or international cooperation.
  • Since June 2002, development cooperation has been discussed in the framework of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC). This has clearly subordinated development cooperation as a policy area.
  • By establishing the Foreign Affairs Council, the Lisbon Treaty separates external relations from general affairs. The Foreign Affairs Council will discuss all aspects of the EU's external relations, including development cooperation, humanitarian aid, external trade and common security and defence policies. Under the current institutional arrangements, development ministers participate in GAERC meetings when issues relating to development cooperation are on the agenda. It is, therefore, important that development ministers are also able to participate in meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council when development cooperation is being discussed.
  • The practice of holding an informal meeting of development ministers during each EU presidency should continue.


Draws on Articles 202 - 205 and 207 TEC and Articles 3 and 45 TEU