17th Sep 2021

'Emergency brake' may be solution for veto issues

As member states bickered over controversial veto and institutional issues in the EU Constitution on Tuesday (18 May), alternative ways are being sought to break the deadlock.

Diplomats report growing support for a so-called 'emergency break' solution in some areas where member states still retain a veto in the Constitution.

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  • The emergency brake solution appears to be gaining ground (Photo: EU Commission)

This solution would see qualified majority voting introduced but with the proviso - or emergency brake - that member states could refer an issue back to the European Council (and so unanimity) if they feel it is vital to national interests.

Such a brake system would comfort those member states who want to push forward with closer integration in these areas - like France and Germany - while giving more reluctant member states - such as the UK and the Nordic countries - a way out if they wanted.

The solution already found public praise with some member states. Austria's foreign minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said it was a good compromise.

Officials indicated that this might be the way forward in the areas of justice and home affairs where there is still a veto in the Constitution.

After Tuesday's meeting, however, it still appeared unlikely that the brake solution would be applied to any tax and social security issues - particularly as the UK continued to ardently oppose any backing down on what is for them core 'red line' issues.

Easier enhanced co-operation?

However, Germany and France, increasingly exasparated with what they see as UK stubborness, are also looking for other ways to move forward.

On Tuesday, they made a concerted call for enhanced co-operation in the Constitution to be made easier.

This would mean that some countries could co-operate more in certain areas - such as tax, social security and justice and home affairs - and other states could participate later.

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