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.