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Using security concerns to overrule smaller states


17 Jan 2023


Justice & Home Affairs
Statement on proposals to remove unanimity from security policy

MCC Brussels hits out at new proposals to move to qualified majority voting for security and foreign policy. Commenting for MCC Brussels, Professor Bill Durodie, chair of international security and risk at University of Bath and MCC Brussels Visiting Professor, attacked the proposals:


“All member states are equal. But some will be more equal than others.

That is the implicit message in the European Union’s latest annual report on the implementation of its common foreign and security policy.

The document tables a motion – scheduled to be voted upon tomorrow January 18th – for a European Parliament resolution; “to form a small group with more ambitious security and defence objectives”. 

So, in effect, a state within the state, that would enable already existing ‘passerelle clauses’, which could; “be used immediately to switch from the requirement of unanimity to qualified majority voting in specific policy areas”, including “all areas of the CFSP” as soon as possible (emphasis added).

It continues with a not so veiled threat commanding; “Member States to support the Union’s external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity”.

The conflict in Ukraine is evidently being used to accelerate the EU’s already existing, profoundly anti-democratic processes (a forthcoming report on EU Security Policy from MCC Brussels will expand upon this).

In effect, a shift away from unanimity among member states to a system of qualified majority voting (QMV) would return Europeans to the ancient (Westphalian) state of affairs whereby ‘might is right’ as the bigger players inevitably get more say in decision-making over smaller states who will simply have to toe the line according to a new; “solidarity policy”.

Together with the EU’s historically secretive mode of conducting its foreign and security matters, this would condemn not just member states but countless European citizens to the state of affairs that last existed in the run-up to the First World War, and that was roundly condemned by President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points speech immediately afterwards.

All MEPs and member states must rise up in unanimity to vehemently oppose these moves.”

This latest attack on the principle of unanimity comes hot on the heels of recent suggestions to abolish veto power to deal with so-called 'Rule of Law' concerns. You can read more about the importance of unanimity and the weaponisation of rule of law criticisms in MCC Brussel's recent briefing paper here.