The consent procedure (formerly the 'assent procedure') is a single stage procedure where both the Council of Ministers and the Parliament have to give their consent to a proposal, or for major decisions where the European Council and the Parliament have to give their consent. It is not used for 'normal' legislation.
In the consent procedure a proposal must be accepted by both the Council of Ministers (or the European Council) and the European Parliament. The exact details of the voting, however, vary, since in some cases the Council votes by QMV, in others by unanimity, while in some cases the Parliament votes by simple majority of those voting, in other cases by absolute majority of Parliament seats.
The consent procedure seems superficially like a simpler version of co-decision, but the difference here is that the decisions being made are usually political rather than legislative.
The consent procedure applies to:
- agreement by the European Council to revise the Treaties (48 TEU)
- application to the Council of Ministers for EU candidate state status (49 TEU)
- negotiation by the European Council of a post-withdrawal agreement for a country leaving the EU (50 TEU)
- adoption of measures by the Council of Ministers combating discrimination (19 TFEU)
- adoption of measures by the Council of Ministers for judicial cooperation (82 TFEU, Irish opt-out)
- adoption by the Council of Ministers of new areas of cross-border crime (83 TFEU, Irish opt-out)
- establishment by the Council of Ministers of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (86 TFEU, Irish opt-out)
- extension of the powers of the European Public Prosecutor by the European Council (86 TFEU, Irish opt-out)
- adoption by the Council of Ministers of international agreements of the following kinds: (i) association agreements; (ii) agreement on Union accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; (iii) agreements establishing a specific institutional framework by organising cooperation procedures; (iv) agreements with important budgetary implications for the Union; (v) agreements covering fields to which either the ordinary legislative procedure applies, or the special legislative procedure where consent by the European Parliament is required. (218 TFEU)
- establishment by the Council of Ministers of new categories of 'own resources' and abolition of existing categories (311 TFEU)
- adoption by the Council of Ministers of multi-annual financial frameworks (312 TFEU)
- adoption by the Council of Ministers of powers necessary to attain a Treaty objective (352 TFEU)
As can be seen from the list above, most of the use of the consent procedure is in decisions relating to the structure of the EU and its budgets, or to membership and relations with third countries - decisions with serious political consequences.