Ministers’ Deputies
    Information documents

    CM/Inf(2007)22 14 May 20071
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    Working methods of the Ministers’ Deputies
    Voting procedures for meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies

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    The present document reproduces the basic texts concerning voting procedures for meetings of the Ministers' Deputies.

    They are taken from the Statute of the Council of Europe, from the Rules of Procedure for the meetings of the Ministers' Deputies, from Resolution (93) 27 and from relevant decisions adopted by the Ministers’ Deputies.

    The appendix indicates the majorities required when voting on different subjects.

    * * *

    Statute of the Council of Europe

    Article 20

    a. Resolutions of the Committee of Ministers relating to the following important matters, namely:

    i. recommendations under Article 15.b;
    ii. questions under Article 19;
    iii. questions under Article 21.a.i and b;
    iv. questions under Article 33;
    v. recommendations for the amendment of Articles 1.d, 7, 15, 20 and 22; and
    vi. any other question which the Committee may, by a resolution passed under d below, decide should be subject to a unanimous vote on account of its importance, require the unanimous vote of the representatives casting a vote, and of a majority of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee.
    b. Questions arising under the rules of procedure or under the financial and administrative regulations may be decided by a simple majority vote of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee.

    c. Resolutions of the Committee under Articles 4 and 5 require a two-thirds majority of all the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee.

    d. All other resolutions of the Committee, including adoption of the budget, of rules of procedure and of financial and administrative regulations, recommendations for the amendment of articles of this Statute, other than those mentioned in paragraph a.v above, and deciding in case of doubt which paragraph of this article applies, require a two-thirds majority of the representatives casting a vote and of a majority of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee.

    Rules of Procedure

    Article 9 - Voting

    "1. The following decisions shall require a unanimous vote of the Deputies casting a vote, and a majority2 of the Deputies entitled to vote:

    (a) Recommendations to governments under Article 15(b) of the Statute3;

    (b) Decisions on the inclusion of information about the activities of the Committee in the reports made by the Committee of Ministers to the Assembly in pursuance of Article 19 of the Statute4;

    (c) Decisions to derogate from the rule that meetings are held in private or concerning the publication of information relating to the conclusions and decisions of the Deputies on the basis of the provision of Article 21 of the Statute5;

    (d) Decisions on holding sessions of the Consultative Assembly elsewhere than in Strasbourg;

    (e) Recommendations for the amendment of the Statute;

    (f) Decisions on the admission of new Members;

    (g) Decisions on matters which the Deputies may, under the conditions provided for in paragraph 4 of the Article, decide to subject to a unanimous vote on account of their importance.

    2. Resolutions concerning the adoption of the budget shall be taken by a two-thirds majority.

3. Questions arising under the Rules of Procedure or under the Financial or Staff Regulations shall be decided by a simple majority.

    4. All other decisions of the Deputies, including, in case of doubt, the decision as to which paragraph of this Article applies, require a two-thirds majority."

    Article 10 - Method of voting

    "1. In every vote it shall be open to a Deputy:

    (a) to record his approval, opposition or abstention, which may be accompanied by an explanatory statement;

    (b) to agree to a text or decision ad referendum; in that case he shall inform the Secretariat at a later date whether he is able to give his final agreement. Should his vote have been necessary in order to obtain the statutory majority or to achieve the required unanimity, the adoption of the text or the application of the decision shall be suspended; once the final agreement had been given, the text or decision shall take effect as of the date on which the vote was taken in the meeting of the Deputies;6

    2. Where unanimity is required, a Deputy may:

    (a) record his opposition, in which case the proposal shall be rejected;

    (b) require that the decision be deferred; in that case the question is included in the agenda of a subsequent meeting;

    (c) approve the adoption of a text but reserve the right of his government to comply with it or not;

    (d) record his abstention which may be accompanied by an explanatory statement, which shall not prevent the Deputies from reaching a decision in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of the present Rules.

    3. A two-thirds majority is obtained if two-thirds of the Deputies casting a vote and the majority of the Deputies entitled to vote, vote in the same sense7.

    4. A simple majority requires the votes of half of the number of the Deputies entitled to vote, plus one8.

    5. Only affirmative and negative votes shall count in calculating the number of votes cast.

    6. After the result of a vote has been announced a Deputy may, with the agreement of his colleagues expressed by a simple majority, change the position which he adopted during the vote.

    7. Before proceeding to a vote, the Chairman may ask the Deputies to express their views on an indicative basis."

    Statutory Resolution (93) 27
    on majorities required for decisions of the Committee of Ministers

    The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 15.a and 16 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, …

    Resolves as follows:

    I. Opening of conventions and agreements for signature

    Decisions on the opening for signature of conventions and agreements concluded within the Council of Europe shall be taken by a two-thirds majority of the Representatives casting a vote and a majority of the Representatives entitled to sit on the Committee, as set out in Article 20.d of the Statute.

    II. Partial Agreements

    In accordance with the Statutory Resolution on Partial and Enlarged Agreements, decisions authorising certain member states to pursue an activity as a Partial Agreement shall be taken by a two-thirds majority of the Representatives casting a vote and a majority of the Representatives entitled to sit on the Committee, as set out in Article 20.d of the Statute.

    443rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies
    (September 1990) – Item 8

    Decision

    The Deputies agreed upon a “gentleman’s agreement” amongst themselves to the effect that their delegations would endeavour, whenever possible, not to abstain when voting on the inclusion of activities in the intergovernmental programme of activities.

    519bis meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies
    (4 November 1994) – Item 2.2 para. C.

    Decisions

    C. Regarding the voting procedures,

    1. the Deputies agreed upon a Gentleman’s Agreement amongst themselves to the effect that no delegation should request the application of the rule of unanimity provided for under Article 20 (a) (I) of the Statute to block the adoption of recommendations to the governments of member States, if the majority foreseen in Article 20 (d) of the Statute has been attained;

    2. the Deputies, noting that no binding decision on this subject exists in the Statute, agreed to adopt replies to the Parliamentary Assembly henceforth by the majority provided for in Article 20 (d) of the Statute, considering that every effort will be made to reach a consensus within a reasonable period of time;

    3. the Deputies agreed to specify, at the beginning of the text of an answer of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly, if a delegation should request it, that this answer was adopted by a majority as provided by Article 20 (d) of the Statute.

    APPENDIX

    Majorities required in the Committee of Ministers - Basis: 47 member States
    (With the exception of particular provisions applicable under certain Conventions)

    Simple majority of representatives 2/3 majority of representatives
    entitled to sit on the Committee entitled to sit on the Committee

    = 24 = 32

    VOTING SUBJECT MATTER

Unanimous votes of the representatives casting a vote and majority of the representatives entitled to sit on the CM (Article 20.a of the Statute and Article 9 of the Rules of Procedure for the Meetings of the Ministers' Deputies).

Derogations from the rule that meetings are held in private; publication of information relating to conclusions and decisions by the CM; holding of Assembly sessions elsewhere than in Strasbourg; Recommendations for the amendment of certain Articles of the Statute (1d, 7, 15, 20 and 22); any other question which the CM may consider to be of the requisite importance (by a decision taken with a 2/3 majority of votes cast and a majority of representatives entitled to sit on the CM); replies to Written Questions addressed to the Committee of Ministers; decisions relating to the admission of new members, when such decisions are taken by the Deputies.

2/3 majority of votes cast and majority of representatives entitled to sit on the CM.

Most decisions, including the adoption of the budget, of the Rules of Procedure of the CM and for meetings of the Deputies, Financial and Administrative Regulations; decision - in the event of doubt -as to which majority is applicable to a particular item; opening for signature of conventions; authorisation to set up partial agreements.
Decisions adopted by the Deputies on 4 November 1994 (519bis meeting):
Recommendations to Governments: Gentleman's agreement = no delegation will request the application of the unanimity rule provided under Article 20.a.i of the Statute to block the adoption if the majority provided for in Article 20.d (i.e. 2/3 votes cast and majority of representatives entitled to sit) has been reached.
Replies to Assembly Recommendations: noting the absence of binding provisions on this matter in the Statute, the Deputies decided to adopt such replies with the majority provided under Article 20.d of the Statute (ie 2/3 votes expressed and majority of representatives entitled to sit), "considering that every effort will be made to reach a consensus within a reasonable period of time". If so requested by a delegation, it will be indicated at the beginning of the text of a reply that the reply has been adopted with the majority provided under Article 20.d of the Statute.

2/3 majority of representatives entitled to sit on the CM.

For example, decisions on the admission of observers to steering committees.

Simple majority of representatives entitled to sit on the CM.

Decisions coming under the Rules of Procedure or the Financial and Administrative Regulations, decisions concerning the agenda, procedural matters, reopening of discussion.

    "Only affirmative and negative votes shall count in calculating the number of votes cast." Article 10.5 of the Rules of Procedure for the meetings of the Ministers' Deputies.

    Different possibilities concerning a 2/3 majority of votes cast and
    majority of the representatives enabled to sit on the Committee of Ministers

    VOTES CAST 2/3 MAJORITY

47

32

46

31

45

30

44

30

43

29

42

28

41

28

40

27

39

26

38

26

37

25

36

24

35

24

34

24

33

24

32

24

31

24

    After doubling the number of votes against:

    a. if the resulting number is lower than or equal to the number of votes in favour, the 2/3 majority has been reached (e.g. 24 for, 12 against, 10 abstentions: carried);
    b. if, on the contrary, the number obtained in this way is higher than the number of votes in favour, the 2/3 majority has not been reached (e.g. 24 for, 13 against, 9 abstentions: not carried).

Note 1 Revised to take account of the increase in the number of Council of Europe member states (47 member states as from 11 May 2007).
Note 2 Article 21 see infra.
Note 3 Article 15(b) of the Statute reads as follows:
Note "In appropriate cases, the conclusions of the Committee may take the form of recommendations to the governments of members, and the Committee may request the governments of members to inform it of the action taken by them with regard to such recommendations."
Note 4 Article 19 of the Statute reads as follows:
Note "At each session of the Consultative Assembly the Committee of Ministers shall furnish the Assembly with statements of its activities, accompanied by appropriate documentation."
Note See however “The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe”, Guy De Vel, p. 59, footnote 3: “This is a reference to the Statutory Report of the Committee of Ministers, which has long been disseminated by the Secretariat without any examination by the Committee of Ministers.”
Note 5 Article 21 of the Statute reads as follows:
Note "a. Unless the Committee decides otherwise, meetings of the Committee of Ministers shall be held:
Note i. in private, and
Note ii. at the seat of the Council.
Note b. The Committee shall determine what information shall be published regarding the conclusions and discussions of a meeting held in private.
Note c. The Committee shall meet before and during the beginning of every session of the Consultative Assembly and at such other times as it may decide."
Note 6 See also CM/Bur/Del(2002)21 (808/1.4, 18 September 2002) and CM(2005)181 revised (951/1.5, 14 December 2005)).
Note 7 In other words as from 11 May 2007, with 47 member states, if 47 Deputies participate in the vote, 32 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 46 Deputies participate in the vote, 31 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 45 or 44 Deputies participate in the vote, 30 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 43 Deputies participate in the vote, 29 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 42 or 41 Deputies participate in the vote, 28 votes in favour are necessary; if 40 Deputies participate in the vote, 27 votes in favour are necessary; if 39 or 38 Deputies participate in the vote, 26 votes in favour are necessary; if 37 Deputies participate in the vote, 25 votes in favour are necessary; if between 36 and 24 Deputies participate in the vote, 24 votes in favour are necessary; if fewer than 24 Deputies participate in the vote, the vote is not carried. Abstentions do not count as a vote for the purposes of calculating the two-thirds majority.
Note 8 The Council of Europe membership from 11 May 2007 being 47, a minimum of 24 votes in favour is necessary for a proposal to be adopted.


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