I understand that member states have a veto power over some (a minority of?) issues in the Council of Ministers (aka Council of the European Union).

But does the European Council [sic] (i.e. heads of state and government) have a veto power?

1 Answer 1


As a general rule, the European Council takes unanimous decisions, which is equivalent to each member having a veto. This is stated in article 15, section 4 of the Treaty on European Union:

Except where the Treaties provide otherwise, decisions of the European Council shall be taken by consensus.

One such exception is the election of its President, where a qualified majority suffices (section 5 of the same article).

However, the European Council has only a limited formal role. Most decisions are taken elsewhere, such as by the Council (of the European Union).

  • Thank you. So for example, if a piece of legislation is proposed by the Commission, a head of government sitting in the Europeans Council cannot step in and say: “no, stop this”?
    – 52d6c6af
    Sep 15, 2018 at 14:43
  • 1
    @Ben: No, the European Council isn’t concerned with regular legislation at all. Of course, the head of government of a particular country and the country’s representative in the Council won’t act independently of each other; depending on the country’s constitutional rules, the head of government may be able to order the Council representative to vote no. This won’t stop the legislation if a qualified majority is sufficient, which is the default for the Council. There is one special rule (art. 48 TFEU) that, in certain cases, the representative may request a referral to the European Council.
    – chirlu
    Sep 15, 2018 at 15:33
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    @Ben To be complete, it seldom comes to that, most of the work is actually done in the COREPER. Permanent representatives are national civil servants and as such representing their national governments.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 18, 2018 at 20:54

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