COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL Towards a more efficient and democratic decision making in EU tax policy

The European Commission has prepared a communication, recommending that the EU moves from unanimous decision-making on tax policy, to qualified majority voting (QMV). The communication proposes a means to introduce the recommended approach, but is intended for debate and discussion ahead of the elections to the European Parliament in May 2019 and is not a final proposal.

2. The Commission argues that unanimous decision-making on tax policy, which gives each Member State the ability to veto any tax legislation, slows down decision-making and discourages Member States from seeking to reach a compromise, as they are aware they can block any proposal indefinitely. The Commission further suggest that unanimity in tax policy is used as a bargaining chip to extract concessions on other areas of policy, or between unrelated tax policy proposals. QMV, in contrast, would require only 55% of Member States, representing at least 65% of the EU population to vote in favour of a proposal in order for it to be adopted.

3. The Commission proposes to use the “passerelle clauses”, in article 48(7) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and article 192(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which permits the use of QMV in areas previously decided by unanimity. Under these articles, the European Council must consult national Parliaments and the European Parliament on the move to QMV in an area where unanimity applies. If there is no opposition from national Parliaments or the European Parliament, the Council must then make a unanimous decision to use the passerelle and move to QMV for tax.

Topic  Tax 
Department  HMT 
Council Reference  5472/19 
COM Reference  COM(19)8 
SEC Reference   
PE Cons   
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Associated file(s)


  1. 5472/19 - 514 KB - pdf
  2. EM 5472/19 - 9 MB - pdf

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