Qualified Majority Voting in EU Foreign Policy: Make It So

This paper makes a case for extending qualified majority voting (QMV) to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the Union’s main framework for collective external action. Although many EU capitals are unwilling to move away from unanimity in decision-making on CFSP, the paper argues that the benefits of introducing some QMV to this intergovernmental domain outweigh the costs. QMV would boost the resilience of the EU’s foreign-policy system to third-country influence, facilitate the emergence of a common strategic culture among the member states and mitigate the risk that the tone of common European foreign policy is set in various mini-lateral forums outside the EU. The Lisbon Treaty contains a built-in safety mechanism that is designed to ensure that no member state could be dictated to on issues vital to its national interests if QMV were to be used in CFSP. Initially, QMV should be extended only to the adoption of EU statements on international human rights questions. Although a modest step, this would help build trust and confidence among the member states, both towards each other and in the use of QMV in CFSP. If the experience was positive, this could create momentum for expanding QMV to additional CFSP areas later on.