Sunday

14th Apr 2024

EU should drop unanimity in foreign policy, Italian PM says

  • Italian premier Mario Draghi said the EU should also help to mitigate the economic crisis from Russia's war (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi on Tuesday (3 May) called for the EU to abandon its unanimity requirement on foreign policy decisions, and prepare for treaty changes after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The 74-year-old former European Central Bank chief told European lawmakers that Europe should move towards "pragmatic federalism" to better equip itself in dealing with economic, energy, defence and foreign policy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

"If this will require starting a process to change EU treaties, we should embrace it," Draghi said in Strasbourg.

He argued that the EU needs to improve its decision-making to respond to Russia's attack which called into question peace on the continent.

"We must overcome this principle of unanimity, which leads to a logic of crossed vetoes, and move towards decisions taken by a qualified majority," Draghi said, calling the war in Ukraine a "security, humanitarian, energy and economic" crisis-in-one.

Using a qualified majority, which means that 15 out of 27 EU countries, representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population, is needed to back a decision, would make it impossible for one single country to block decisions.

"A Europe which is capable of taking rapid decisions is a Europe that is more credible towards its citizens and to the rest of the world," he added.

EU countries' have faced a tough challenge to their unity in agreeing to sanctions against Russia, as Baltic countries and Poland want to move faster with measures while Hungary have said energy bans are a red line.

Draghi reiterated that Italy would back any energy-related sanctions against Russia, despite its own heavy reliance on Russian gas imports.

The strong support of Draghi's government for sanctions on Russia has been seen as a policy shift for Rome which has for decades — particularly under the premiership of former PM Silvio Berlusconi — had warm relations with the Kremlin.

New emergency fund

Draghi said the "geopolitical situation is changing rapidly and we have to move fast", and added that the EU needs to build a "fairer and sustainable social model".

Draghi called for the EU to deploy financial tools to mitigate the economic fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine.

The Italian premier warned that national budgets alone could not finance the spending necessary to uphold sanctions imposed on Russia without risking domestic upheaval.

"We need strong and immediate decisions," Draghi said.

Draghi said the EU should extend the scope of its unemployment scheme to help member countries shield their economies from soaring energy prices.

"I am referring to measures to reduce bills, but also to temporary support for lower wages, for example through tax relief," Draghi, who is credited with saving the euro during the 2010s euro crisis, said.

For long-term investments in areas such as defence, energy, food and industrial security, the model should be the Covid-19 recovery plan, he added, a grant and loans package to help the economy against the fallout of the pandemic.

He called for better coordination and more efficient spending on European defence.

Draghi said the new realities "require an acceleration in the European integration process", adding that his country supports the accessions of Albania, North Macedonia and Ukraine.

Call for sanctions on foreign meddling and disinformation

The draft report, from a special committee on foreign interference and disinformation, also calls for the EU-wide ban on foreign funding for European political parties — and legislation to make it harder for foreign regimes to recruit former top politicians.

Opinion

Unanimity under review, if new EU sanctions to work

Any new regime should focus on individual perpetrators, such as the prison guards and low-level administrators and officers - but it must also similarly allow the listing of individuals higher up in the command chain.

Livestream

German foreign policy in an era of transformation

Participants will discuss the most important foreign policy challenges for a new German government and Europe. What should Europe expect from German foreign policy under a new government — continuity or change?

Does Draghi have a Russia problem?

While much of the infatuation with Russia among some Italians may be hard to explain, it's still a factor that its leaders, like prime minister Mario Draghi, must contend with.

Scholz wants majority voting for EU sanctions

In a speech about the future of Europe, the German chancellor argued for majority voting in some policy areas — and institutional reform to prepare for enlargement eastwards.

Interview

EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us