EU Commission launches debate on more efficient decision-making.

IF – 04/2019

The Juncker Commission, in one of its last official acts, has released a Communication on ‘More efficient decision-making in social policy: Identification of areas for an enhanced move to qualified majority voting’ with the aim of achieving faster and more efficient decision-making in European social policy areas by the enhanced use of qualified majority voting. There will now be a discussion at European level.

In most social policy areas where the EU has the power to act, decisions are already made through qualified majority voting. However, there are still some areas, such as social security and social protection for workers, where unanimity is required in the Council to adopt relevant initiatives. An example of this would be the Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed.

According to the Communication, ‘passerelle clauses’ in the EU Treaties allow for decisions to be made via qualified majority instead of unanimity. This would mean that a qualified majority would have to obtain the approval of at least 55% of the Member States and also the majority of at least 65% of the total EU population. This change would have a significant impact on decision-making processes in European social policy. 

The first step would be to use the passerelle clauses to facilitate decision-making on non-discrimination matters. This would be followed in the near future to adopt recommendations on social security and social protection of workers. The Commission clearly wants to increase the speed of decisions in the social field, as well as support the process of modernisation and convergence of social protection systems. 

The Commission has expressly stated that nothing will change in terms of Member State responsibility for national social security systems; however, this initiative is clearly intended to strengthen Europe’s ability to act over national interests. The German Social Insurance will be closely following the debate at European level.