Friday

1st Jul 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get 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.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us