Decisions made by consensus in the Council of the European Union emerge from the coalition-building behaviour of individual governments.


Despite the use of qualified majority voting, a high percentage of decisions in the Council of the European Union are still made by consensus. Frank Häge outlines a model which can potentially explain this phenomenon. He argues that the high numbers of decisions made by consensus are in fact an unintended by-product of coalition building within the Council: states band together to form blocking coalitions, with eventual decisions reflecting a compromise between these coalitions (and therefore a consensus between all states). This explains why decisions made by consensus are still extremely common, despite the EU enlargements which have taken place since the mid-1990s.

European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog. London: London School of Economics and Political Science (available at
Frank M. Häge
Frank M. Häge
Political Scientist

Senior Lecturer at the University of Limerick. Interested in Legislative Politics, European Union Politics, and Historical Political Economy.