IIUC, the Commission proposes laws, that are then voted on in the Parliament by a simple majority of hands. Seats in the Parliament are allocated on the basis of number of member residents.

At any one time, the UK has a single Commissioner who is either the head or a representative with a specific brief.

Say the UK has a Commissioner for Energy. Can that commissioner veto a law being proposed by another part of the commission (eg Budget) on the basis of national interest?

Or is there another mechanism for veto (or none at all, or only in some areas)?

  • 3
    At the start of the EU, and for some considerable time thereafter, unanimity was required. Today most things are passed with a "Qualified Majority Vote (QMV)". ThisWiki page tells you all about it. All that concerns the Council of Ministers. But two other bodies, the Commission and the EU Parliament also have such rules. The whole EU Constitution is embodied in a succession of treaties.
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2018 at 17:24
  • Thank you for the explanation. So for most law, both the Council of the European Union (QMV) and the Parliament (absolute majority), need to approve. So, law can be passed against the interest of one of the nation states, on this basis.
    – 52d6c6af
    Feb 14, 2018 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


A single commissioner does not have a veto, and if they had, its use “in the national interest” would be frowned upon: It’s not a commissioner’s job to act for the interest of their home country, but for that of the European Union as a whole.

However, you are missing another important institution: the Council of the European Union, or Council of Ministers. It is the second part of the EU’s legislature and consists of representatives for the governments of the member states. In general, new legislation needs to be approved both by the Council and the European Parliament.

There are some areas in which the Council can only take unanimous decisions; in those, any member state (including the UK) has essentially a veto. In most areas, however, the Council decides by majority – either a simple majority or, more often, a qualified majority. (A qualified majority requires that 55% of the member states agree and that the agreeing states represent 65% of the population.) In those areas, the UK can be overruled.


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