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qualified Majority Voting

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is a system of voting used by the European Council of Ministers which was first introduced by the Single European Act 1986. Under the current procedure, a total of 345 votes are distributed across the 27 member states, in proportion to population size, and 258 (74.8 per cent) of these have to be cast in favour for a directive to be adopted. The purpose of QMV is to speed up the pace of European decision-making and integration and prevent any single country, even a large one, vetoing legislation. Directives can be adopted through QMV in the following areas: health and safety, working conditions, informing and consulting with workers, integration of people excluded from the labour market, equality between men and women, combating social exclusion, and the modernization of social protection schemes. There is also scope under the Treaty of Nice for the Council of Ministers to take a unanimous decision to extend QMV to other issues, including redundancy and codetermination. In other areas of social policy, unanimity is required or else there is no competence of the European Union to legislate. The Reform Treaty of the European Union, which is due to be adopted in late 2007, proposes a new form of QMV (known as Double Majority Voting) to be introduced from 2014. This will require 15 member states (55 per cent), with at least 65 per cent of Europe's population to vote in favour of new law.

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