Passerelle Clause

Passerelle Clause

Passerelle Clause

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The Passerelle Clause is a clause within treaties of the European Union that allows the European Council to unanimously decide to replace unanimous voting in the Council of Ministers with qualified majority voting (QMV) in specified areas with the previous consent of the European Parliament, and move from a special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure. “Passerelle” means “overpass” in the French language.

Certain matters in the Council of Ministers are decided by unanimous voting and certain by qualified majority voting. The distinction is laid down in treaties and cannot normally be changed without a new treaty. Under the Passerelle Clause, voting on certain areas can switch from unanimity to QMV if the European Council unanimously approves this. This decision cannot be later reversed without treaty change.

Passerelle provisions

Before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty there were only four passerelle provisions:

  • on police and judicial cooperation established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992;
  • on immigration and asylum, social policy and the environment established by the Treaty of Nice in 2001.


In 2004 the European Council used the Passerelle Clause to move to QMV on asylum and immigration.

After the 2009 Lisbon Treaty further passerelle provisions were added:


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