The past weeks have shown the dangers of European conservative governments allowing themselves to be distracted by the ongoing war in Ukraine from the power grab in European Union headquarters in Brussels and Strasbourg. Calls for an EU army and abandoning member state’s right to veto the sanctions mechanism by replacing it with a majority voting system are all wrapped in a mantra of solidarity with Ukraine and a more effective European reaction in times of similar crises, but those in favor of preserving national competences should be wary of such arguments.
The ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), which is a long-term consultation process initiated by the EU to formulate how the continent’s political blocs will decide on Europe’s future, has come up with a scheme to radically reduce sovereignty. The idea being put forward would use citizens to take away individual state’s rights to block sanctions, and go for a majority vote system instead.
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What is behind the push for this decision? Undoubtedly, it has to do with Germany’s and Hungary’s opposition to the introduction of sanctions against Russian energy supplies, such as gas and oil, which is immoral according to some politicians and political activists. Nevertheless, if the sanctions procedures are altered to a majority vote system, some European member states might find themselves at the mercy of the goodwill of the ruling left-wing European governments that currently dominate the EU.
The very method that the EU is pursuing for a “majority” consensus on further integration, which amounts to the federalization of the union, is deeply flawed. For instance, the recent claim that most of EU citizens would want to take away member states’ rights to block sanctions is based on the opinion of some youth delegates carefully vetted by a selection process, which will ensure that most of them will be enthusiastically pro EU. And if anyone had doubts about whose influence the majority voting system in the EU is meant to undermine, they need to look no further than the statement from the Czech Green MEP Markéta Gregorová, who recently said: “We cannot let Viktor Orbán decide the EU’s foreign policy.”
However, Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger had rejected the majority vote proposal, saying that “voluntary agreements have a better value” than forcing the majority will on smaller member states.
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The federalization drive does not focus only on the sanctions process but also wants to speed up the creation of a European army that would not only draw troops from EU member states, as its name suggests, but would fall under a central command of the European Council. This could override the decisions of member states’ parliaments in one of the most fundamental competencies nation-states currently possess, which is the right to declare war.
The politician who is most active in pushing the EU army topic is Commissioner Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, who has been very vocal concerning the topic since the NATO’s Afghanistan debacle, and especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has been the co-creator of the recently adopted European Strategic Compass, saying that “I will be relentless in pushing everyone towards results. If there are blockages or hesitations to implement what everyone has now agreed to, I will not be shy in pointing them out.”
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In some critics’ views, a common European defense policy would not only undermine NATO’s role in Europe, but would also be a decisive step towards a European federal superstate that would have the power to override sovereign nations’ right to have the final word in matters concerning their own security.
Among others, this has been pointed out by Professor Bart Szewczyk of the German Marshall Fund, who stated that the newly discovered European consensus regarding defense “will lack a clear sense of direction and strategy as long as governments from Paris to Berlin remain stuck in their naive myths of the European Union as a military power.” He added that “In Brussels, the EU bureaucracy is using Europe’s ‘geopolitical awakening’ to justify a further centralization of security policy with the aim of creating an eventual EU army controlled by the European Council through qualified-majority voting.” As Szewczyk points out, “the ultimate decision to sacrifice the lives of soldiers in war can only be made by a government responsible to its people. To think this difficult decision could be handed down by Brussels is folly.”