EU should abandon national vetoes – German chancellor
Olaf Scholz insists it’s the only way for the bloc to maintain a leading role in global politics
If the European Union hopes to compete in global politics, it can no longer afford to allow individual member states to veto the bloc’s actions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an article published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Sunday.
Arguing that the EU should become a geopolitical actor, the German leader highlighted the importance of unity in Europe in light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He insisted it was time to put an end to the “selfish blockades” of EU decisions by individual members.
“We simply can no longer afford national vetoes, for example in foreign policy, if we want to continue to be heard in a world of competing great powers,” he wrote.
Under current EU rules, any policy decisions within the bloc must be approved by all 27 member states. However, after countries like Hungary and Slovakia held up the implementation of the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia due to energy concerns, some have called for the bloc’s principle of unanimity to be abandoned.
Last month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Politico that the union should ditch the unanimity requirement in matters of foreign policy and should move to qualified majority voting. She noted that “the speed at which things happen” was too slow and that it was important for the “European voice” to be heard and seen without one single member being able to block it.
In his article, Scholz also stated that the EU had been weakened by “permanent disunity” and “permanent dissent between member states,” claiming that unity was Europe’s most important response to the “change of times.”
He suggested that one of the ways unity across Europe and other democratic countries could be achieved was if Germany “assumes responsibility for Europe and the world in these difficult times.”
Scholz noted that Germany could bring together “East and West, North and South in Europe” since it was located in the middle of the continent and was a country that “lay on both sides of the Iron Curtain.”
The chancellor added that it was important to “close our ranks” in all areas in which Europe has been struggling, such as migration policy, European defense, technological sovereignty, and “democratic resilience.”