Government backs unanimity requirement in EU foreign policy

Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The government discussed potential changes to the EU foreign policy decision-making process last week and continues to back the unanimity requirement and Member State vetos.

"Retaining unanimity in foreign and security policy helps make sure decisions that affect smaller Member States' interests will not be made for or without them," the government said in a press release after the Thursday evening call. "In the conditions of unanimity, debates and negotiations need to arrive at a solution where Member States are unanimous."

The decision reads that EU foreign and security policy is strong if decisions are made and executed with support from all members for which regular strategic discussions are needed at Foreign Affairs and European Council meetings.

The government's position obligates representatives of Estonia to express this position on various levels of the European Council.

The unanimity requirement that gives Member States a de facto veto right in some EU decisions has come under scrutiny in connection with Hungary that has hindered Russia sanctions and help for Ukraine.

Dropping the unanimity requirement has been suggested by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz who has held changing EU decision-making processes to be a possible precondition for EU expansion. France, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy have also voiced support.

Researchers at the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies published a report in July of 2022 where they urged Estonia to drop its recent position and support scrapping the unanimity position to expedite decision-making in crises, make the EU more resilient to third country interests and avoid paralysis in foreign policy.

Estonia's current position was first approved in 2019, according to which Estonia supports upholding the unanimity requirement in EU foreign policy in relevant matters.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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