A total of 50 UEFA teams entered the competition. The European zone was allocated 15 places (out of 32) in the final tournament. France, the hosts, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition between 49 teams.
The 49 teams were divided into nine groups, four groups of six teams and five groups of five teams. The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winners would qualify. The runners-up would be ranked according to their records against the 1st, 3rd and 4th-placed team in their groups, and the team with the best record would also qualify. The other runners-up would advance to the UEFA Play-offs.
In the play-offs, the 8 teams were paired up to play knockout matches on a home-and-away basis. The winners would qualify.