… and why on some dossiers it does not.
There are European reforms that require years of gestation and reforms of the founding treaties.
It takes at least a couple of years to revise the treaties: unanimous agreement on the new drafting and 27 national ratifications: the outcome is uncertain, some revision processes fail, as it happened in 2004 for the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe.
Then there are reforms that do not require a change in the treaties, just making the most of the existing rules.
It happened in the middle of the pandemic when, without the competence to legislate in health matters, joint tenders for vaccines were made, pharmaceutical research was financed, health devices (and the trucks that transported them) were made to circulate.
It happened again with the adoption of the Next-generation EU, the largest investment plan in European history doubling the budget, issuing Eurobonds and imagining new tax revenues that do not directly affect citizens.
And now, crisis after crisis, the worst we could imagine is real, we have a war again in the European continent, something we had imagined we had left behind in history. I know wars are not over in other continents. Sadly enough, we European citizens are sorry for that but we don’t get identified as we feel we are now with Ukrainians, our neighbours whose lifestyle and values are so close to ours
With an unprecedented initiative, the European Union jointly buys weapons to be sent to Ukraine, supports the ban of Russian banks from swift and closes its airspace to Russian aircraft.
Yet, what Europe can not do without amending its founding treaties is adopting a true common foreign security and defence policy.
Although there are already numerous forms of military collaboration among EU countries, foreign policy remains blocked by the unanimity vote
Without eliminating this structural obstacle (the same that has always paralyzed the UN Security Council), we are going nowhere. Military partnerships are of little use without a common foreign policy.
On the platform of the Conference on the future of the Union, citizens are asking for a more incisive role of the Union on the international stage, a European defence policy, greater solidarity and a more efficient joint response to crises.
But, first, we must abolish unanimity.
Once and for all the Union should be enabled by its member states to act on the international stage with a single voice, together we are stronger. And we can do more to prevent wars like the Ukrainian one and other tragedies.
Eventually, we should never forget why European Union was created in the first place: to make war impossible among its member states, and for me as well as for many people who were born inside it (then European Community), it really sounds like an absurdity even to imagine.
Article 21 of the Treaty establishing the European Union, at the opening of the chapter dedicated to its external action states that “The Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world”. It is a long article listing European values and goals, but this sentence, in my opinion, summarizes it all.
Somebody could see the opening for Ukraine to join the EU as a deliberate provocation to Russia, yet Russia too has been for years a partner of the Union and it could become a closer partner with a different kind of government. I hope so.
EU is not an alliance against something or somebody, it is a challenge for the governments inside it, not always successful, but supported by strong roots in the values of peace and collaboration.