Opposition to the United States of Europe grows — within the EU itself
The EU is about to implode the EU is set to divide itself in two — leaving Macron’s plans marooned.
More member states sign letters against treaty change and loss of veto
Last week President Macron set out his vision for what amounts to a loose association of European countries — including the UK — and the ‘hard core’ EU. Meanwhile, the EU announced its plans for radical changes to the EU’s Treaty. Twelve member states of the EU have signed a letter rejecting moves towards the abolition of unanimity and national vetoes that would require treaty change.
The 12 countries issued the letter to demonstrate that the possibility of the seamless adoption of the ideas formulated at the EU’s expensive and lengthy exercise called the “Conference on the Future of Europe” (sic) will not be easily accepted.
In addition to growing opposition is then the problem that some countries are required to have a referendum to accept a new EU Treaty. Getting the abolition of national vetoes from past electorates will prove exceedingly difficult.
What the “Conference on the Future of Europe” (sic) recommended
- The Conference on the Future of Europe (sic) resulted in 325 proposals accepted at the meeting— the most significant change is the abolition of the veto
- The member states’ veto currently exists in certain sensitive policy areas, such as health, taxation, defence and future members
- Decisions in key areas could be by a majority — 15 of the 27 member states voting in favour, as long as they represent more than 65% of the EU population of c.450 million
- The 49 proposals for change will now to be evaluated by the EU countries requiring only a simple majority of the — 14 member states — to agree, to allow negotiations on possible treaty changes to begin
A dozen countries oppose abandoning loss of veto
The countries that have signed the letter thus far include:
- Czech Republic
The text of the letter includes the following
“While we are not ruling out any options at this stage, we do not support rash and hasty attempts to launch a process that would lead to treaty changes.”
“Treaty change has never been a purpose of the Conference.”
The letter also warned seeking to establish a new Treaty would “entail a serious risk of drawing energy away” from “the urgent geopolitical challenges facing Europe”.
The signatories then finished with the rather ironic claim that the EU “can deliver with the current treaty framework”, mentioning the Covid pandemic and Europe’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. “We already have a Europe that works. We do not need to rush into institutional reforms to deliver results,” they claimed.
Will it make any difference? I doubt it.
Unanimity in specific areas simply does not make sense if we want to move forward quickly.”
- Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission President
“We can no longer be held hostage by those who paralyse European foreign policy through their vetoes.”
- Heiko Mass, German Foreign Minister
The growing opposition to the proposed ending of national vetoes in the EU’s institutions shows a deep divide within the EU. Small nations are gathering momentum with more countries — such as Hungary — likely to join the group opposing the moves being led by the European Parliament and arch-federalists like Guy Verhofstadt.
All of this is happening at a time when the Danish people are deciding if they will give up Denmark’s opt-out from involvement in the EU’s common foreign and defence policies at a referendum to be held on 01 June.
The difficulty in obtaining consent to change the treaties that establish how the EU operates will not stop the Commission’s attempts to make the changes. It simply means that new ways of working without treaty change will be attempted so that national referenda do not get in the way of the push for federalisation.
The original problems of rejection of treaties in the past — even by the French electorate — have been avoided by either repeating the votes until ‘the right result’ was obtained or changing the title so the proposal is not called a treaty.
This rumbling dispute will continue while there is a division within the EU over dealing with the Ukraine war and undoubtedly over the Northern Ireland Protocol which is expected to erupt next week.
With the UK Government establishing greater links with Sweden and Finland this week the propensity for a divided EU continues to grow, making its hopes for becoming a strategic world power all the more unlikely to be realised.
Sources: Various EU member state government websites | EU Commission