Europe. The last herbivore in a world full of carnivores.

Europe. The last herbivore in a world full of carnivores.

Nov 5, 2020, 5:36:15 PM UTC
From Government officials to European diplomats, we have heard this expression is repeated as a bleak assessment on the EU’s foreign policy.

From Government officials to European diplomats, we have heard this expression is repeated as a bleak assessment on the EU’s foreign policy. The latest events are doing little to contradict this. 

The EU has struggled over and over again to have an impact on the countries at its borders. It struggled to affirm its voice against Turkey. While the European Parliament called for stronger sanctions against the Belarusian dictatorship, demanded the resumption of the nuclear non-proliferation talks, or pushed for a peaceful resolution in Nagorno-Karabakh, there is little hope for the voice of the European people to significantly come to fruition. We can’t accept this state of play where the EU is paralysed, weakened, and the voice of its population remains unheard. From the Russian aggression to Chinese assertiveness, we refuse to resign and to close our eyes on the current stakes and that is why we should change how our foreign policies are being decided. 

Firstly, because the current decision making is ineffective. To do anything, our governments must decide unanimously at the Council. A single government motivated by its own political egoism can block any collective decision. Even if that government represents less than 0,02% of the European people. The European Parliament has limited power. The Court of Justice has close to none. Thus, the EU is ineffective and does not have the means to truly act. The EU is paralyzed.

Secondly, it is dangerous. By not uniting the Member States, it isolates and weakens them, enabling external forces to prey on their division. Individual countries such as Greece are slowly becoming a playground for foreign investments, and it is difficult to imagine a government on a drip of Chinese FDI greenlighting any Council decision that would contradict Beijing. Even recently, Nord Stream 2 was pushed for by Germany despite fears from other countries that it would increase our dependency on Russian energy. Despite it being clear that with the transition to renewable energy we can fight climate change and decrease our Russian. The way foreign policies are adopted should transform so that Europe can deal as equals with China or the USA on the global scene.

Thirdly, it is undemocratic. The European Parliament, the one EU body directly elected by the population, has little say in all of this. It is merely being consulted for foreign affairs, and like for other policies, cannot propose measures. Such democratic aberration means that the European Parliament is both the assembly representing the most citizens in Europe and the one with the least power.  This trend should be reversed by entrusting the Parliament with legislative initiative for foreign affairs. 

To be truly effective and democratic, Europe must talk with a single voice. In order to achieve this, three things must change. The suppression of the vetoes at the Council, and their replacement by qualified majority voting. No single government should be able to block the other twenty-six. This will foster convergence between national governments and better protect individual Member States from external bullying. In addition, the the European parliament has to be empowered and be able to propose its own foreign affairs measures. This would even the playing field between European citizens and the Council and would give more legitimacy to our collective decisions in foreign affairs. Finally,  the EEAS and the Court of Justice have to get a true mandate to ensure the decisions are really implemented.

These changes require public support and strong political will. Two-thirds of the Europeans are already in favor of a common foreign policy. So where is the political will?

More Europe is the solution to make our foreign affairs decisions democratic and effective. It will make forth the voice of the European population. It is not about the EU joining the pack of carnivores. It is not even about remaining an herbivore. It is about being able to decide over our own diet.  

Further information:

For inquiries please contact:

Reinier van Lanschot  - Co-President, Volt Europa

Robin Fontaine - Communications, Volt Europa
Tel. +33 678 632209