30 January 1966

Accade Oggi

June 30, 1965 - January 30, 1966: exactly 7 months was the duration of what for the European Economic Community had been the "crisis of the empty chair", a true boycott of the activities of the Community, and specifically of the meetings of the Council of Ministers, conducted by French President Charles De Gaulle.

It was the first time that the Council saw its activities stop by the 1958 Treaties of Rome. What was the reason behind this decision?

It all started when a proposal to extent the use of qualified majority voting was put forward in the Council, the institution where all the States and governments representatives of the then six Member States met to decide - until then unanimously - the EEC action plan. De Gaulle, opposed to such a strengthening of the European integration process and to the further proposal to strengthen the budgetary powers of the then Parliamentary Assembly, literally left his chair empty in protest.

Only on 30 January 1966, with the signing of the Luxembourg compromise, the situation did re-stabilize: in fact, the possibility was foreseen for the member states of the EEC to postpone the adoption of a qualified majority resolution if a Member State could prove it to be harmful to very important national interests.
This compromise, which in fact became a right of veto and nicknamed "the agreement to disagree", significantly slowed down the process that for the famous founding fathers should have led to a federal Europe, because in reality the “reserve” was used also in areas where the principle of qualified majority was scheduled in the Treaties. An intergovernmental rather than supranational tendency demonstrating how since the beginning of the European integration process, national interests and pushes have been reluctant to let community action proceed untied.

Basically, the situation did not change until 1987, when in a different climate and with new States that joined the Community, the Single European Act reintroduced the use of qualified majority voting in some areas.
Although formally the Luxembourg compromise is no longer used, it is good to remember how the major limitation of the action of today's European Union remains the obligation to proceed unanimously in very important areas, such as foreign policy and financial policy, in the context in which, with 28 (27) voting States, the European integration process can only be slowed down.

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  • L'Autore

    Giulia Geneletti

    Laureata con lode in Scienze Politiche presso l'Università degli Studi di Milano, curiosa, intraprendente e sempre motivata da nuove avventure ed esperienze. Ha svolto diverse esperienze lavorative, formative e di volontariato in Italia e all'estero. Si interessa di politiche pubbliche, relazioni internazionali, comunicazione politica, affari europei e di consulenza.
    Giulia è entrata nella community di Mondo Internazionale nel Giugno 2019 ed ha da allora ricoperto diversi ruoli sia di redazione che di direzione. Ad oggi è Direttore di Mondo Internazionale HUB, all'interno del quale ha dato vita al progetto di MIPP, l'Incubatore di Politiche Pubbliche di Mondo Internazionale.

    Graduated with honors in Political Science from the University of Milan, curious, proactive and always motivated by new adventures and experiences. She has had several work, training and volunteer experiences in Italy and abroad. She is interested in public policy, international relations, political communication, European affairs and consultancy.
    Giulia joined the Mondo Internazionale community in June 2019 and has since held various editorial and management roles. To date she is Director of Mondo Internazionale HUB, within which she gave life to the project of MIPP, the Public Policy Incubator of Mondo Internazionale.



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