Friday

28th Apr 2017

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.

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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”.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

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