Thursday

13th Aug 2020

EU wins new powers at UN, transforming global body

  • United Nations General Assembly chamber (Photo: tomdz)

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy will now be able to address the United Nations no differently from US President Barack Obama, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Russia's Dimitri Medvedev.

In order to win the vote, the EU had to agree to changes to the global organisation that transforms the UN from an assembly of nation states into a body that also offers representation rights to regional blocs as well, including potentially the African Union, the Arab League and the South American Union.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU on Tuesday was given almost all the rights in the global chamber that fully-fledged states enjoy after the General Assembly backed 180 to two a resolution giving the bloc, which until this week only maintained observer status at the UN, the union the right to speak, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right of reply, the right to raise points of order and the right to circulate documents.

There will also be additional seats put in the chamber for the EU's foreign policy chief, High Representative Catherine Ashton and her officials.

Ashton and her team have lobbied heavily over the last six months, according to her representatives, with a major offensive in the last 48 hours by the high representative herself in New York, to push through the changes after the EU was dealt a surprise defeat last September when other regional blocs voted against a similar resolution.

She declared herself "delighted" at the win, which, she said: "will in future enable EU representatives to present and promote the EU's positions in the UN."

Last year, two groups in the chamber resisted the move. The first, some of Brussels' closest allies in the world, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, consulted with each other and agreed to abstain on the original motion, according to one Commonwealth diplomat, as they were annoyed by the "presumption" of the EU, who had delivered the resolution for consideration the night before the vote.

After half a year of consultations, the Commonwealth allies appear to have had their procedural concerns dealt with.

But the second group, led by Caricom, the Carribean's regional integration bloc inspired by the EU, felt that it was unfair that Brussels should win additional rights but not themselves or other similar bodies, from the Gulf Co-operation Council to the Pacific Islands Forum.

In order to win over these refuseniks, the EU had to back an amendment to the resolution, put forward by Hungary - currently at the helm of the bloc's six-month rotating presidency - that gives these other blocs the same rights Brussels has won, should they ask for them.

"Following the request on behalf of a regional organisation which has observer status in the general assembly and whose member states have agreed arrangements that allow that organisation's representatives to speak on behalf of the organisation and its member states, then the general assembly may adopt modalities for the participation of that regional organisation's representatives," read the amendment.

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

The coming week will see all eyes once again focussed sharply on the rapidly metastasising eurozone crisis, although little official is programmed. According to EU officials everything is “still fluid”.

Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions

Images of bloody injuries after police attacked protesters with batons and stun grenades marked Belarus' latest sham election, posing questions on EU sanctions.

News in Brief

  1. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  2. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says
  3. EU to finance new Covid-19 research projects
  4. Croatia receives EU earthquake relief funds
  5. Facemasks required throughout Brussels
  6. EU opposes Mexico's transparent junk food labels
  7. Greece accuses Turkey of 'escalation' in maritime dispute
  8. Slovakia expels three Russians linked to Berlin murder

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Belarus violence goes on, as EU ministers scramble
  2. French navy to deter Turkey's oil and gas grab
  3. EU ministers urged to talk Belarus, Turkey sanctions
  4. Drums of war again, in Europe
  5. EU looks on as Belarus protests turn lethal
  6. EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed
  7. Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions
  8. Schrems privacy ruling risks EU's ties to digital world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us