Little is known about the bargaining process of the European Council, because negotiations of member countries occur behind closed doors. Using a brand-new dataset, we analyze the factors leading a country to a successful negotiation over one of the most important decisions taken by the Council every year, that for the allocation of the European budget. Important predictors of a country’s bargaining success, proxied by the quota of EU budget received, are the extent to which its votes are pivotal to form a winning coalition in the Council, its seniority, the control over the Council presidency office, and the political orientation of its government on the EU integration process. We also provide new evidence that countries advancing a similar policy agenda may benefit from each other’s effort. Finally, we demonstrate that the reform of the Council introduced by the treaty of Niece had no significant impact on the bargaining process and the balance of power among member countries.